China’s censorship crackdown

China’s censorship crackdown

The Chinese government is erasing the existence of celebrities from their Internet

Popular actress Zhao Wei is a subject of the Chinese government’s culture crackdown. Original photo by Reuters.

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Saf Bartley

China, one of the most powerful nations in the world, have consistently exerted their strength in a bid to reinforce their status as a global superpower. Whilst their displays of influence often rear their head in a military, financial and geopolitical form, their fan culture is a soft power technique that has garnered considerable attention.

With an identifiable ‘idol economy’ centred around the fan clubs of their biggest stars, referred to as ‘Idols’, their fan culture economy is predicted to be worth nearly £16 billion by 2022. 

The power of this economy had been overlooked for years, but now China is aiming to crackdown on the power of the fan by censoring vast amounts of their pop culture media outlets – even erasing their ‘idols’ from existence.  

Put forth by the Chinese government and the Cyberspace Administration of China, new rigid rules are being put into place that ‘maintain online political and ideological security’ throughout the country. Any further discussion as to why this is happening is being censored on social media, causing a great stir among fans and their collective clubs.  

The prevalence of this issue has arisen due to the sudden removal of one of China’s biggest stars, Zhao Wei. All information about her and her work has been erased from internet platforms and websites, with Chinese video platforms going as far as to completely remove her films, chat shows and credits from their streaming services. Her disappearance sparked outrage globally, yet it is still not clear to the public why this has happened. 

Speculation among fans has led to an even further crackdown on Internet censorship, laws now prohibiting social media platforms and users to publish certain information on popular celebrity individuals and further regulating fans posts by shutting down fan accounts dedicated specifically to Zhao Wei.  

China’s rapid censorship of fan and pop culture is the beginning of what could turn out to be a total siege of Internet freedom in the nation. 

Sadly, Zhao Wei is not the first celebrity this has happened to and she will not be the last. It is likely that this censorship of celebrity individuals and their fans will only spread.