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100 Terms the Communist Party Wants You to Know for the 19th National Congress

100 “must-know” terms for the 19th National Congress, propagated by People’s Daily.

Manya Koetse

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These are the 100 terms to know for the 19th CPC National Congress – propagated by People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, on Weibo.

It is the week of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), better known as the “19th Party Congress.” This meeting, that takes place from October 18 to October 24, is a major event that takes place every five years.

On Chinese social media, Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily (@人民日报) presented a vocabulary list for people to know before the huge political event.

During the 19th Party Congress approximately 2280 delegates from across the nation officially come together to select the party’s top leadership for the next five years. The event is also called a “celebration of decisions that have already been taken,” as the key points of the meeting have mostly already been settled behind closed doors.

It is these key decisions for China that will be discussed during the CPC National Congress and then officially announced, representing “new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies proposed by the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core” (Xinhua).

In a recent report by APCO Worldwide, Gary Li summarizes what to look out for during the 19th National Congress, writing that it is likely for President Xi Jinping to “consolidate his power further by making changes to the party apparatus,” influencing regulators in various sectors from finance to trade and cybersecurity.

Posting the 9-page list of a total of 100 terms on Weibo, People’s Daily (@人民日报) writes:

“Study time! We want to teach you the translation of 100 hot terms for the 19th CPC National Congress (..) Do you know how to say these things in English? This is how to avoid using Chinglish and to express [these terms] in a more authentic way. They are all useful for CET-4 & CET-6 [national English level tests in China] and other exams. Let’s learn these!”

By October 18, the list was shared 19000 times on Weibo and received many comments.

One netizen said: “With these 100 words you can understand a new China.” Others complained that they still think the English translation of these Chinese terms “sounds like Chinglish.”

 

Relevant Words: Policy Trends & Digital Focus

 

The vocabulary list, which was selected from China Daily‘s “Little Red Book of Hot Words” (热词红宝书), is an interesting combination of terms that says a lot about the focal points of the National Congress and the trends that are emphasized for the coming five years.

In the recent APCO report, Gary Li mentions Ideological Tightening as a crucial policy trend. This promotion of “Chinese values” is clearly visible in the vocabularly list, that includes terms such as “the Chinese Dream” (中国梦), “Stay true to the mission” (不忘初心), and “cultural confidence” (文化自信).

Another important policy trend on the government agenda is Anti-Corruption, which is represented by the term “anti-corruption TV series” (反腐剧).

The list also includes some Internet slang terms such as “give a like” (点赞) or “phubber”/”bowed head clan” (低头族), referring to people who constantly look down to their smartphone.

It also includes a catchphrase that became especially popular on Chinese social media in 2016 when it was used by Chinese swimming champion Fu Yuanhui during an interview about her winning medal during the Olympics – (“用了洪荒之力”), which can be translated as “I’ve used my primeval powers!”, basically meaning “to give one’s full play.”

Swimmer Fu Yuanhui went viral in 2016 when she introduced a new catchphrase that is still a hot online sentence.

The inclusion of some typical internet catchphrases is especially noteworthy because in 2014, Chinese state media published that programs and commercials should not use Internet language to preserve traditional expressions.

The entire list has a clear Digital Focus when it comes to different industries, including government, media, finance, and traveling, introducing words such as “in-flight Wifi services” (空中上网服务), “face scan payment” (扫脸支付), 5G era (5G时代), and taxi-hailing app (打车软件).

The Belt and Road initiative and China’s role in the world is an important point on this year’s agenda.

The list also includes words that emphasize the Belt and Road Initiative and China-centric Relations for Economy and Trade, such as the “New type of major-power relationship” (新型大国关系).

 

The List: 100 Hot Words for the 19th National Congress

 

This is the full list of the 100 terms as shared by the People’s Daily through screenshots, typed out by What’s on Weibo. The pinyin and tones are also provided by What’s on Weibo.

1. 中国梦
Zhōngguó mèng
China dream

2. 不忘初心
Bù wàng chūxīn
Stay true to the mission

3. 两个一百年
Liǎng gè yībǎi nián
Two centenary goals

4. 新常态
Xīn chángtài
New normal

5. 中国制造2025
Zhōngguó zhìzào 2025
Made in China 2025

6. “双一流”
Shuāng yīliú
Double First-Class initiative

7. 工匠精神
Gōngjiàng jīngshén
Craftsmanship spirit

8. 中国天眼:500米口径球面射电望远镜(FAST)
Zhōngguó tiānyǎn:500 Mǐ kǒujìng qiúmiàn shèdiàn wàngyuǎnjìng (FAST)
China’s Eye of Heaven: The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

9. 歼-20战斗机
Jiān-20 zhàndòujī
J-20 Stealth Fighter

10. 国产航母
Guóchǎn hángmǔ
Domestically built aircraft carrier

11. 国产客机
Guóchǎn kèjī
Homemade passenger jet

12. 可燃冰试采
Kěrán bīng shì cǎi
Sampling of combustible ice

13. 量子卫星”墨子号”
Liàngzǐ wèixīng “mò zi hào”
Quantum satellite “Micius”

14. 北斗卫星导航系统
Běidǒu wèixīng dǎoháng xìtǒng
Beidou navigation system

15. 风云四号A星卫星
Fēngyún sì hào A xīng wèixīng
Fengyun-4A satellite

16. 重型运载火箭
Zhòngxíng yùnzài huǒjiàn
Heavy-lift Carrier Rocket

17. 沪港通
Hù gǎng tōng
Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect

18. 深港通
Shēn gǎng tōng
Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect

19. 京津冀一体化
Jīng jīn jì yītǐ huà
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration

20. 雄安新区
Xióng ān xīnqū
Xiong’an New Area

21. 自贸实验区
Zì mào shíyàn qū
Pilot Free Trade Zones

22. 医疗改革
Yīliáo gǎigé
Medical Reform

23. 供给侧改革
Gōngjǐ cè gǎigé
Supply-side reform

24. 扫脸支付
Sǎo liǎn zhīfù
Face scan payment

25. 二维码支付
Èr wéi mǎ zhīfù
Two-dimensional barcode payment

26. 人工智能
Réngōng zhìnéng
Artificial intelligence

27. 虚拟现实
Xūnǐ xiànshí
Virtual reality

28. 5G时代
5G shídài
5G era

29. 分享经济
Fēnxiǎng jīngjì
Sharing economy

30. 互联网金融
Hùliánwǎng jīnróng
Online finance

31. 亚投行
Yà tóuháng
Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank

32. 低碳城市
Dī tàn chéngshì
Low-carbon cities

33. 一小时通通勤圈
Yī xiǎoshí tōng tōngqín quān
One-hour commuting circle

34. 蓝色经济
Lán sè jīngjì
Blue economy

35. 纵向横向经济轴带
Zòngxiàng héngxiàng jīngjì zhóu dài
North-south and east-west intersecting economic belts

36. 众创、众包、众扶、众筹
Zhòng chuàng, zhòng bāo, zhòng fú, zhòng chóu
Crowd innovation, crowdsourcing,crowd support and crowdfunding.

37. 战略性新兴产业
Zhànlüè xìng xīnxīng chǎnyè
Emerging sectors of strategic importance

38. 香港回归祖国20周年
Xiānggǎng huíguī zǔguó 20 zhōunián
The 20th anniversary of Hong-Kong’s return to China

39. 点赞
Diǎn zàn
Give a like

40.自媒体
Zì méitǐ
We-Media

41. 实名认证
Shímíng rènzhèng
Real name authentication

42. 精准扶贫
Jīngzhǔn fúpín
Targeted poverty reduction

43. 精准医疗
Jīngzhǔn yīliáo
Precision medicine

44. 利益共同体
Lìyì gòngtóngtǐ
Community of shared interests

45. 轨道交通
Guǐdào jiāotōng
Rail traffic

46. 动车
Dòngchē
Bullet train

47. 城际列车
Chéng jì lièchē
Inter-city transport

48. “一带一路”倡议
“Yīdài yīlù”chàngyì
Belt and Road Initiative

49. “丝绸之路经济带”
“Sīchóu zhī lù jīngjì dài”
The Silk Road Economic Belt

50. 21世纪海上丝绸之路
21 Shìjì hǎishàng sīchóu zhī lù
21st- Century Maritime Silk Road

51. 古丝绸之路
Gǔ sīchóu zhī lù
The Ancient Silk Road

52. 互联互通
Hùlián hùtōng
Establish and Strengthen Partnerships/Connectivity

53. 文化自信
Wénhuà zìxìn
Cultural confidence

54. 新型大国关系
Xīnxíng dàguó guānxì
New type of major-power relationship

55. 可替代能源汽车
Kě tìdài néngyuán qìchē
Alternative energy vehicle

56. 可载人无人机
Kě zài rén wú rén jī
Passenger-carrying drone

57. 空中上网服务
Kōngzhōng shàngwǎng fúwù
In-flight Wifi services

58. 海外购外
Hǎiwài gòu wài
Overseas shopping representative

59. 海淘
Hǎi táo
Cross-border online shopping

60. 多次往返签证
Duō cì wǎngfǎn qiānzhèng
Multiple entry visa

61. 散客
Sǎn kè
Individual traveler

62. 自由行
Zìyóu xíng
Independent travel

63. 跟团游
Gēn tuán yóu
Package tour

64.深度游
Shēndù yóu
In-depth travel

65. 自驾游
Zìjià yóu
Self-driving tours

66. 免税店
Miǎnshuì diàn
Duty-free store

67. 无现金支付
Wú xiànjīn zhīfù
Cashless payment

68. 旺季
Wàngjì
Peak season

69. 淡季
Dànjì
Offseason

70. 反腐剧
Fǎnfǔ jù
Anti-corruption TV series

71. 合拍片
Hépāi piàn
Co-production

72. 打车软件
Dǎchē ruǎnjiàn
Taxi-hailing app

73. 代驾服务业
Dài jià fúwù yè
Designated driver business

74. 单双号银行
Dān shuāng hào yínháng
Traffic restrictions based on even- and odd-numbered license plates

75. 共享汽车
Gòngxiǎng qìchē
Car-sharing

76. 绿色金融改革新试验区
Lǜsè jīnróng gǎigé xīn shìyàn qū
Pilot zones for green finance reform and innovations

77. 超国民待遇
Chāo guómín dàiyù
Super-national treatment

78. 现代医院管理制度
Xiàndài yīyuàn guǎnlǐ zhìdù
Modern hospital management system

79. 机遇之城
Jīyù zhī chéng
Cities of opportunities

80.直播经济
Zhíbò jīngjì
Live stream economy

81. 互联网+政府服务
Hùliánwǎng +zhèngfǔ fúwù
Internet Plus government services

82. 创新型政府
Chuàngxīn xíng zhèngfǔ
Pro-innovation government

83. 无人机紧急救援队
Wú rén jī jǐnjí jiùyuán duì
UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) emergency rescue team

84. 二孩经济
Èr hái jīngjì
Second-child economy

85.父亲假;陪产假
Fùqīn jià; péi chǎnjià
Paternity leave

86. 带薪休假
Dài xīn xiūjià
Paid leave

87. 低头族
Dītóu zú
Phubber

88. 副中心
Fù zhōngxīn
Subcenter

89. 用了洪荒之力
Yòngle hónghuāng zhī lì
Give one’s full play

90. 营改增
Yíng gǎi zēng
Replace business tax with value-add tax (VAT)

91. 创新型人才
Chuàngxīn xíng réncái
Innovative talent

92. 积分落户制度
Jīfēn luòhù zhìdù
Points-based hukou system

93. 混合所有制改革
Hùnhé suǒyǒuzhì gǎigé
Mixed-ownership reform

94. 税收减免
Shuìshōu jiǎnmiǎn
Tax reduction and exemption

95. 生态保护红线
Shēngtài bǎohù hóngxiàn
Ecological wealth

96. 网约车
Wǎng yuē chē
Online car-hailing

97. 宜居城市
Yí jū chéngshì
Habitable city

98. 移动支付
Yídòng zhīfù
Mobile payment

99. 电子竞技
Diànzǐ jìngjì
E-sports

100. 双创人才
Shuāng chuàng réncái
Innovative and entrepreneutrial talent

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

“Support Xinjiang MianHua!” – China’s Social Media Storm over Xinjiang Cotton Ban

The hashtag “Wo Zhichi Xinjiang Mianhua” – “I Support Xinjiang Cotton” – received over 6 billion views on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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Western brands faced heavy criticism in China this week when a social media storm erupted over the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and its brand members for no longer sourcing from China’s Xinjiang region. The ‘Xinjiang cotton ban’ led to a major ‘Xinjiang cotton support’ campaign on Weibo, and a boycott for those brands siding with BCI.

In 2019, an extensive brand ‘witch hunt’ took place on Weibo and other Chinese social media networks in light of the protests in Hong Kong, with international fashion and luxury brands, from Versace to Swarovski, getting caught in the crossfire for listing Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as separate countries or regions – not part of China – on their official websites or brand T-shirts.

Now, another brand ‘witch hunt’ is taking place on Chinese social media. This time, it is not about Hong Kong, but about Xinjiang and its cotton industry.

H&M, Uniqlo, Nike, Adidas and other international brands have caused public outrage for the stand they’ve taken against the alleged use of forced labor involving the Muslim Uyghur minority to produce cotton in China’s western region of Xinjiang.

The social media storm started earlier this week on Wednesday, March 24, and is linked to H&M and the ‘BCI’ (Better Cotton Initiative), a Swiss NGO that aims to promote better standards in cotton farming.

In October 2020, H&M shared a statement on its site in which the Swedish retailer said it was “deeply concerned” over reports of forced labor in the production of cotton in Xinjiang, officially Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

H&M stated that it would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang, following the BCI decision to suspend licensing of BCI cotton in the region.

 

BCI and its Suspension of Activities in Xinjiang

 

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world. It practices across 23 countries and accounts for 22% of global cotton production. The governance group was established in 2005 in cooperation with WWF and leading retailers, with the aim of promoting the widespread use of improved farm practices.

While H&M is a ‘top member’ of the Better Cotton Initiative (link), many others brands such as IKEA, Gap, Adidas, Nike, Levi’s, and C&A are also brand members.

January 2020
In January of 2020, the BCI was slammed by Dr Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington DC, for its refusal to pull out of the Xinjiang region. At the time, 20 percent of its ‘better cotton’ was sourced from Xinjiang, which is China’s largest cotton growing area.

According to a 2020 report by EcoTextile, the BCI maintained that its implicated council member, the yarn producer Huafu, denied the allegations and that an independent audit of the company’s Aksu facility in Xinjiang had failed to identify any instances of forced labor. An earlier report by Adidas from 2019 also stated that their independent investigations found no evidence of forced labor.

March 2020
In late March of 2020, the BCI reportedly did suspend activities with licensed farmers in the Xinjiang region for the 2020/21 cotton season while also contracting a global expert to conduct an external review of the Xinjiang situation. Chinese state media Global Times later reported that despite suspending its licensing activities, the BCI would remain committed to cotton farming communities in Xinjiang and would continue to engage in activities in the region.

July 2020
The pressure on BCI and other brands to stop sourcing from Xinjiang was heightened when a coalition of civil society groups raised concerns over the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China and the “grave risk of forced labor.” Reuters reported that more than 180 organizations urged brands from Adidas to Amazon to end sourcing of cotton and clothing from the region and cut ties with any suppliers in China that would benefit from the alleged forced labour of Uyghur other Muslim groups.

October 2020
In October of 2020, the Better Cotton Initiative announced it would cease all field-level activities in Xinjiang with immediate effect because the region had reportedly become “an increasingly untenable operating environment.” The aforementioned statement by H&M came out in the same month.

March 2021
By late March 2021, various Chinese state media reported on the BCI suspension. These reports came days after a coordinated effort by the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada to impose sanctions on Chinese officials over China’s alleged human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang, something which was called a “concerted effort to slander China’s policies in its Xinjiang region” by Global Times. The news outlet linked these “anti-China forces’ efforts” to the BCI decision to suspend its Xinjiang activities.

 

A Social Media Storm over Xinjiang Cotton

 

The news developments were followed by a wave of social media boycott movements and Chinese brand ambassadors cutting ties with international brands, with H&M being the main target over its Xinjiang statement.

Chinese e-commerce platforms Taobao, JD.com, Pinduoduo, Suning.com, and Meituan’s Dianping on Thursday all removed H&M from their platforms, with Chinese Android app stores also removing H&M. On Thursday, a search for “H&M” came up with no results on these sites (see images below).

Two of China’s largest online maps also removed H&M from its systems.

No H&M on these maps.

On Thursday, virtually all topics in Weibo’s top trending lists related to the Xinjiang cotton ban (see image below), with Chinese famous influencers and celebrities one by one announcing they would terminate their contracts with international brands related to the Xinjiang cotton ban.

The storm became so big this week that some people on social media even commented that “if you’re a Chinese celebrity and you don’t have any contracts to terminate now, you’re not doing so well.”

After H&M, an entire list of brands was targeted, including Adidas, Nike, Calvin Klein, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo, Converse, Puma, Burberry, and Lacoste.

In light of the heated discussions and calls for boycotts, there was also another hashtag that popped up on Weibo, namely that of “don’t make it hard for the workers” (不要为难打工人). The hashtag came up after some Chinese staff members at Nike and Adidas stores were scolded on a live stream, with netizens calling on people to stay rational and not let the boycott turn into personal attacks on people. But another popular video showed a man in Chongqing calling customers out in an H&M store for buying their “trash.”

Another hashtag gaining many views, 520 million in total, was that of two ‘girls from Xinjiang dancing outside H&M’ (#新疆小姐姐在HM门店外跳新疆舞#) – it was linked to a video that showed two women performing outside of a H&M store in Chongqing.

Meanwhile, some brands, including Chinese company Anta Sports and the Japanese Asics, reportedly announced they would leave the Better Cotton Initiative in order to continue sourcing cotton from Xinjiang.

The discussions on Xinjiang as Weibo saw this week are unprecedented, as ‘Xinjiang’ was previously a sensitive topic on Chinese social media and was barely discussed in political contexts. The last time Xinjiang became a big topic of discussion on Chinese social media was in 2018, when CCTV aired a program on the region’s “vocational education programs” in Xinjiang. That media moment triggered mixed reactions on Weibo, with some commenters wondering what the difference between a ‘re-education center’ and a ‘prison’ is.

 

Chinese State Media and the ‘Xinjiang Cotton Ban’

 

While Chinese netizens and celebrities play a major role in the storm that erupted over BCI, H&M, and Xinjiang cotton, the role of Chinese state media is pivotal.

Over the past week, various state media outlets posted strong messages regarding the ban in various ways, the most noteworthy one being People’s Daily‘s “I Support Xinjiang Cotton” (#我支持新疆棉花#) hashtag, which had garnered six billion views by the weekend. “The H&M Group released a statement that sparked outrage among netizens. Let’s pass it on together: Support Xinjiang Cotton,” the tagline of the hashtag page said.

The message came with an image saying “Xinjiang Mianhua” (Xinjiang cotton) in a similar font to the H&M logo, the “H” and “M” within ‘mianhua‘ being identical to the H&M letters.

The image and post by People’s Daily was shared over 36 million times.

A message by People’s Daily: those who slander China are not welcome.

Another image by People’s Daily published on March 25 said that the Chinese market does not welcome those who slander China.

The Communist Youth League also contributed to the online storm by posting about H&M, writing: “On the one hand they are starting rumors and boycotting Xinjiang cotton, on the other hand they want to make money in China. Dream on, H&M!” That post received around 430,000 likes.

Various official media, including Global Times and China Daily, posted about cotton production in Xinjiang. Besides refuting the forced labor accusations and accusing Western players of hypocrisy and ulterior motives, a recurring issue stressed is how 42 percent of Xinjiang’s cotton is harvested by machines. Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng was quoted as saying that “the so-called forced labor in Xinjiang is nonexistent and entirely imaginary. The spotless white Xinjiang cotton brooks no slander.”

This image was posted by China Daily USA.

On March 27, People’s Daily posted a rap video by ‘Xinjiang Youth’ (新疆青年) on its official Weibo channel (video below) that included some tough lines attacking Western powers, companies, and media.

Also noteworthy in this propaganda campaign is how the Canadian YouTuber Daniel Dumbrill got caught up, as what he said in one of his videos was quoted by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (华春莹) on March 27 during a press conference, with his video being screened before the conference.

In this video, that was part of a larger panel on Xinjiang, Dumbrill responded to the decision-making process on how China’s treatment of Uyghurs is called a “genocide.”

Recently, a number of countries and parliaments including the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands have declared that China’s crackdown on the Muslim minorities amounts to “genocide” in violation of the U.N. Genocide Convention. Dumbrill talks about why the Xinjiang narratives matter to both the foreign and domestic politics of the US and other Western countries, with Dumbril claiming it “isn’t really about human rights and a care for overseas Muslims” but about other political goals. Dumbrill’s video was praised by authorities, state media, and by Chinese netizens.

“We have to push for the truth to come out,” some netizens commented. Others wrote: “But we’re only allowed to discuss it from within [the country].”

Meanwhile, while many companies are seeing sales falling, there are also many who are benefiting from the current developments. Some sellers on Taobao have found another way to attract customers, promoting their products as being made with “100% Xinjiang Cotton!”

As this is an ongoing topic, we will report more later. Meanwhile, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Arts & Entertainment

“Love the Motherland” – New Moral Guidelines for Chinese Performers Come Into Force

New “Self-Disciplinary Measures” for performers in China come into force on March 1st.

Manya Koetse

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On February 5th of 2021, the China Association of Performing Arts (中国演出行业协会), which is run by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, officially released new guidelines for Chinese performers in order to promote the idea that Chinese performers should abide by rules of ‘social morality,’ stating they could face a permanent ban from their profession if they fail to comply.

The guidelines, that come into force on a trial basis starting from March 1st, are meant to “promote the healthy development of the performer industry” (“促进演出行业健康发展”). It is the first time for the Association, which was established in 1988, to introduce “clear regulations” in this way.

The regulations are presented as being “self-disciplinary measures” for actors, musicians, dancers, opera performers, acrobats, and any other people engaged in performing within China.

Part of the article presented by the China Association of Performing Arts includes the “practice norms”, which stipulate that performers, among other things, should abide by national laws and regulations, should honor their contracts and comply with copyright laws. The article also lists other things. For example, performers should:

 

  • “..love the motherland, and support the Party’s line and policies” (“热爱祖国,拥护党的路线方针政策”)
  • “..persevere in the orientation that literature and art should serve the people and socialism” (“坚持文艺为人民服务、为社会主义服务的方向”)
  • “..actively uphold a positive image” (“积极树立正面形象”)
  • “..actively participate in social charity events, help the development of public welfare undertakings, consciously put social responsibility into practice” (“积极参与社会公益活动,助力公益事业发展,自觉践行社会责任”)

 

Another part describes what performers are not allowed to do. Among other things – of which some seem obvious, such as ‘do not violate the basic principles of the Constitution’ – they include things like ‘performers may not..’:

 

  • “..jeopardize national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, endanger national security or damage national honor and interests” (“危害国家统一、主权和领土完整,危害国家安全,或者损害国家荣誉和利益”)
  • “..encite hatred against ethnic groups, discriminate against ethnic groups, infringe the customs and habits of ethnic groups, insult ethnic groups or undermine national unity” (“煽动民族仇恨、民族歧视,侵害民族风俗习惯,伤害民族感情,破坏民族团结”)
  • “..organize, participate in, or promote illegal activities regarding obscenities, pornography, gambling, drugs, violence, terrorism, or criminal elements etc” (“组织、参与、宣扬涉及淫秽、色情、赌博、毒品、暴力、恐怖或者黑恶势力等非法活动 “)
  • “..violate national religion policies, promote cults or superstition” (“违反国家宗教政策,宣扬邪教、迷信”)
  • “..do lip-sync in professional performances, deceive the audience by fake playing instruments etc” (“在营业性演出中以假唱、假演奏等手段欺骗观众”)

 

The punishment for going against these regulations is an industry-wide boycott of one year, three years, five years, or even a permanent ban depending on how serious the case is.

By stressing that art should serve the people, the China Association of Performing Arts reiterates President Xi Jinping’s views on the arts, which he previously shared at a symposium of prominent artists and writers in Beijing in 2014, and where he also said that “the arts must serve the people and serve socialism.”

As discussed by Chinese author Murong Xuecun in the New York Times in 2014 (‘The Art of Xi Jinping’ link), President Xi’s comments reminded of the famous Yan’an talks by Mao Zedong in 1942 where he prescribed the new direction for art and literature in China, saying they should serve the ‘people’ – the workers, peasants, and soldiers – and not the petty bourgeoisie or intellectuals.

The Beijing comments by Xi signaled that the Chinese government fixed its sights on literature and the arts, with Murong Xuecun already predicting that it would be the start of new lists of forbidden films, broadcasts, and publications. Those lists may now also include banned performers.

 

“Idols should be a good example for others”

 

The China Association of Performing Arts also has a Weibo account (@中国演出行业协会) where they posted about the new regulations.

“I support this, idols should be a good example for others,” one top commenter reacted to the regulations.

Others suggested that there should be a blacklist of performers engaged in illegal activities in order to “warn the industry.”

But there are also voices, such as some on Q&A site Zhihu, expressing that the current regulations are too vague, as they include stipulations that are already part of the law. Some argue that there should be a clearer description of the consequences artists will face when they violate industry guidelines or when they engage in acts that are illegal.

“Surrogate pregnancies, insulting China, taking drugs, evading taxes, etc etc – this should be banned forever,” another person said.

The ‘surrogate pregnancy’ comment refers to the controversy involving Zheng Shuang (郑爽). It already is the biggest celebrity controversy of the year in China. The 29-year-old famous Chinese actress dominated all trending topics in January of 2021 when news came out that the actress and her husband Zhang Heng (张恒) had separated and that she had left behind two children born out of surrogacy in the United States. Surrogacy is not legal in China.

Since the controversy, Zheng Shuang was dropped by the brands she represented, she was shut down by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and her honorary titles were revoked by Huading Awards.

Among all Weibo comments on the new regulations, there also many mocking them – especially the rule that stipulates performers should not lip-sync and deceive their audiences. “What about the Spring Festival Gala?”, multiple commenters say, referring to the biggest live televised state media event, that is often criticized for lip-synced performances.

 

“Can Zheng Shuang still make a comeback?”

 

The recent regulations come at a time when Chinese celebrities have enormous influence in popular culture due to the blossoming of various social media platforms – some of Weibo’s top celebrities have over 120 million fans.

At the same time, the past decades have seen a higher grade of commercialization of Chinese media, with entertainment and celebrities being a major driving force behind the success of hundreds of Chinese television stations. This has only further accelerated the influence of China’s top performers.

Loved by millions of fans, the power of Chinese celebrity artists is often also used by authorities to promote Party ideology and policies. This is done in myriad ways. In 2017, a group of Chinese celebrities praised China’s “New Era” in a song supporting Xi Jinping Thought; in 2019, influential pop stars sang about the importance of social credit.

In this thriving celebrity culture, Chinese authorities are tightening control on the culture & entertainment content that reaches millions of fans within the country. In 2019 there was a crackdown on the rising popularity of Chinese costume dramas. In 2017, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) issued a notice that Chinese television stations should refrain from broadcasting TV dramas “focused on entertaining” during primetime. These are just minor examples of ways in which authorities are shaping a popular culture environment that is not just about the entertainment alone – it should also serve the Party’s goals.

As the “self-discipline management measures” have now gone into effect, some discussions on social media are focused on whether or not these measures should be applied retroactively, and if Chinese celebrities could still be affected now for past behaviors.

In a previous interview with Xinhua News, The Secretary-General of the China Association of Performing Arts Pan Yan (潘燕) stated that previous actions or situations will not be taken into account when it comes to the current guidelines.

“Does this mean Zheng Shuang can still make a comeback?”, some netizens wondered.

Pan Yan also said that the Association has an ‘ethics committee’ which will be involved in the process of assessing whether or not artists have violated the practice norms.

 
By Manya Koetse

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