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China Targets Celebrity Fan Culture In Latest Tech Crackdown

Cyberspace regulators said on Tuesday they will tighten oversight on celebrity reports online, and the placement of their ads on internet sites, ‘to avoid promoting bad values’

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Zhao Wei, a billionaire actress who found fame on Chinese TV, saw her name, photos, plus her films and shows largely erased from internet sites a few months ago for reasons unknown. And she is not the only star to suffer this fate. Reuters photo.


China’s cyberspace regulator said on Tuesday it will tighten oversight over how celebrity information is disseminated online, such as the publishing of their personal details and the placement of their advertisements on internet sites.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said this was aimed at creating a positive and healthy internet environment, describing the proliferation of gossip and star-chasing as impacting mainstream values.

It said it would create a “negative list” that would target online celebrity information that promoted bad values such as ostentatious wealth, as well as any attempts to encourage fans to spend money to support celebrities.

Celebrity endorsements and advertisements should be clearly marked out by platforms, the CAC said, and fan clubs must be managed by authorised agents.

Chinese authorities in recent months have moved to dampen what they have called the country’s “chaotic” celebrity fan culture, ordering broadcasters, online platforms and artists to help curb the phenomenon after a series of celebrity scandals involving tax evasion and sexual assault.


‘Idol Economy’ Worth Billions

Online celebrity fan clubs had become a widespread phenomenon in China with local newspaper The Paper projecting the country’s “idol economy” could be worth 140 billion yuan ($22 billion) by 2022.

But they have also been criticised for their influence over minors and for causing social disorder.

When Canadian-Chinese pop star Kris Wu was detained by Beijing police in July on suspicion of sexual assault, his fan groups came to his defence on social media. Most of these fan accounts, along with Wu’s online accounts, were later shut down.

Chinese authorities have also ordered actors and other performers to follow moral guidelines or face being banned.

On Tuesday, the China Association of Performing Arts published a list of 88 people it said were banned from live-streaming for reasons including violating ethics, which included Wu.


• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard


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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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