China bans ‘sissy men’ from TV in new crackdown

Published September 2, 2021
A television shows a broadcast of a Chinese talk show programme as it sits beneath a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping in a home converted into a tourist homestay in Zhaxigang village near Nyingchi in western China's Tibet Autonomous Region on June 4. — AP/File
A television shows a broadcast of a Chinese talk show programme as it sits beneath a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping in a home converted into a tourist homestay in Zhaxigang village near Nyingchi in western China's Tibet Autonomous Region on June 4. — AP/File

China’s government banned effeminate men on TV and told broadcasters on Thursday to promote “revolutionary culture”, broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality.

President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation”, with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion. Companies and the public are under increasing pressure to align with its vision for a more powerful China and healthier society.

The party has reduced children’s access to online games and is trying to discourage what it sees as unhealthy attention to celebrities.

Broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics”, the TV regulator said, using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — “niang pao” or literally, “girlie guns”.

That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, girlish look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.

Broadcasters should avoid promoting “vulgar internet celebrities” and admiration of wealth and celebrity, the regulator said. Instead, programmes should “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture”.

The government is also tightening control over Chinese internet industries.

It has launched anti-monopoly, data security and other enforcement actions at companies including games and social media provider Tencent Holding and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group that the ruling party worries are too big and independent.

Rules that took effect on Wednesday limit anyone under 18 to three hours per week of online games and prohibit play on school days.

Game developers were already required to submit new titles for government approval before they could be released. Officials have called on them to add nationalistic themes.

The party is also tightening control over celebrities.

Broadcasters should avoid performers who “violate public order” or have “lost morality”, the regulator said. Programmes about the children of celebrities also are banned.

On Saturday, microblog platform Weibo Corp suspended thousands of accounts for fan clubs and entertainment news.

A popular actress, Zhao Wei, has disappeared from streaming platforms without explanation. Her name has been removed from credits of movies and TV programmes.

Thursday’s order told broadcasters to limit pay for performers and to avoid contract terms that might help them evade taxes.

Another actress, Zheng Shuang, was fined $46 million last week on tax evasion charges in a warning to celebrities to be positive role models.

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