Censorship of “Empress of China” TV Drama Parodied by Netizens


The Tang Dynasty historical drama The Empress of China starring actress Fan Bingbing was pulled off the air just 4 days after debuting on Hunan TV. While Tang Dynasty concubines such as the later first empress Wu Zetian were known to dress in revealing clothes that showed off ample cleavage, this was however deemed too risque by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) for broadcast. When the series finally re-aired on TV, all the scenes of the actresses showing cleavage were cropped out from the neck down.

Netizens responded to the censorship by filling in the cropped out frames with their own ‘imagined’ versions of the show, leading to numerous parodies online.


The show Empress of China before and after censorship where the actresses’ cleavages were cropped out.

From Sina Weibo:

@人鱼线VS马甲线: An amazing reconstruction of the truth behind censorship of Wu Zetian’s cleavage, why did her cleavage get cropped out? Let us experience SARFT’s well-intentions.










Comments on Sina Weibo:


Oh my god!


If it was really like this, then it was understandable that they censored it…


It opened a new world.


Thanks you SARFT for your “well-intentions”.

游来 游去不是鱼:

The more they don’t let people watch, the more lewd people become, SARFT is really well-intentioned.


Hahahaha what the fuck is this shit!


Why do they have to crop from the neck up when it only gave people unlimited room for imagination???


Haha, so this is the truth.


The unstoppable netizens.


I just want to say one thing! They didn’t censor the first episode yet they censor the rest, are they afraid of the high ratings??!! Only when all the leftover evil old men and women from the Cultural Revolution and the generation that they influenced dies, can I then truly love my country! As a student I am so disappointed, not for the show, but I can feel the despotism and tragedy of a backwards system.


Don’t you guys feel that after censorship, this kind of ‘imagining’ can be even more detrimental to young people, they might as well not censor it.


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  • lonetrey / Dan

    Pointless censorship…. every time I see a form of pointless censorship, I feel like they’ve successfully insulted our intelligence with their stupidity.

    As if the public were too immature to handle a bit of insignificant cleavage, so they wield their authority like a blunt instrument and start battering away at the media in order to reduce it into what they think is an acceptable form.

    And we are meant to blindly digest that battered and broken product, they assume.

    • Surfeit

      “successfully insulted our intelligence with their stupidity.”

      That’s very good.

    • biggj

      Congratulation, you just one a no expenses paid vacation to china’s “Reeducation camp 2015!!!!!”

    • mr.wiener

      The party has set itself up as mummy, and occasionally drunk abusive dad to the people of China. The message is clear: You can’t be trusted to govern yourself.
      You wonder why some Chinese are a bit…screwed up? Just imagine living with your parents for the rest of your life.

    • KStyleBlue

      Well sometimes I feel insulted by too much cleavage. It’s like they think I am too stupid to understand the themes the show, so they have to use a blunt instrument like sex to keep my attention.

      From the clips shown, the censorship was stupid. No one want’s to watch talking heads for 30 min / 1 hour (how long is this show?).

      • Amused

        Wait, what is this “too much cleavage” you speak of?

      • Luke the Duke

        I think the point of the cleavage is usually to distract you from the fact that the show has no themes.

  • Da Qin

    Sad thing is that this series probably reinforces the Chinese historical stereotype of women as evil schemers, if they get too close to political power. History is written by the winners; and Wu Zetian was loathed by the Confucian officials who wrote the story of her rise to power. Even today, China is far too male-dominated a society

    • Insomnicide

      I’d disagree, today in Chinese society women hold too much power over men. Compared to our Japanese and Korean neighbours, Chinese men pamper their wives and daughters too much.

      • Da Qin

        1) They have the power that they do, because of the sexism of Chinese society that killed millions of little girls, because their parents wanted boys. You reap what you sow.
        2) Chinese women have very little respect or power in Chinese society. Men control the government and the economy. Men can beat women at home all they like; if they divorce the woman gets nothing. And yet you wish for women that are even weaker, like Korean or Japanese women!
        It is no wonder that Chinese women were miserable. If I were a Chinese woman I would do everything I could, to emigrate.

        • Insomnicide

          First off, killing female children happens mainly in the countryside, in the city people couldn’t be happier to have a daughter. And actually beating women is taboo in China. Especially here in Shanghai, you’d be socially ostracized for domestic violence. Men don’t control the politics and economy entirely, as the PRC government has one of the highest numbers of female politicians in the world. And also some of the most powerful female politicans and female business owners in the world are from China. In a divorce, a lot of the times the court would rule in favour of the women, to say the woman get “nothing” is outright false.

          • Da Qin

            If you are from Shanghai, then it is easier to understand why you think that “in Chinese society women hold too much power over men.” The combination of the skyrocketing wealth of the city, together with the gender-disparity and the Chinese real-estate bubble, has put enormous pressure on mothers to see to it that their daughters marry as wealthy a husband as possible. But a high bride-price does not mean that “women have too much power in society.” The very IDEA of a “bride price” is a sexist idea, where a woman’s value comes from how much money she can get for her youth and attractiveness.

            Also, though she should own her estate with her husband in common, in reality typically only his name is on the property-lease; if they divorce, he gets the property. All this makes divorce financially ruinous for many women. And then let’s not get started on the infidelity of Chinese men, especially men with money. Domestic violence may be “taboo” (I should hope so!!) but women have very little protection by law, from domestic violence. Add all this to the fact that the official, Government(!!) name for unmarried women over 30 is “Leftover” (like unwanted food), and there is no way you can say that women have respect or power in China.

  • biggj

    Can’t show cleavage on tv but can have a whore house pretty much on every street in china…..seems legit.

    • lonetrey / Dan

      I don’t believe you! I’d like you to point out these whore houses!

      … You know, for research purposes.

      • biggj

        Well wait until it gets dark and look for a pink light shinning out of a shitty looking building. If you see some girls dressed in lingerie sitting on a couch watching tv……you most likely can get your dick sucked there and pretty much whatever else….so i’ve been told. Or just go to a small bar….I don’t know how many times I’ve had the whores hired by the bar try to take me home for money.:) here is an example.

        • bujiebuke

          ewww… that is one street that I’d never walk by. I like how “ayi” is giving you a grin as you’re taking their picture.

          • biggj

            This does look like a skanky street. I seen this all the time…not down some back alleys but down pretty busy streets mixed in with other business. I remember the Tesco I uses to shop at had one right next door to it. It’s not really a hidden thing.

          • bujiebuke

            “I seen this all the time…not down some back alleys but down pretty busy streets mixed in with other business.”

            You might have mentioned this before but approximately which area of China did you live in? I was in Shenzhen for a few weeks and granted I saw signs that hinted at being a sex toy store, but never saw anything like this. Honestly, I might have vomited on the spot if I saw that.

          • biggj

            I lived in Hangzhou for most of my time in china. It’s not open during the day, well maybe some are but I don’t notice them.After late evening I start noticing them. I think during the day they open as something else and at night they switch to”whore house” mode. I’m not too sure though, I don’t go looking for them, I just have a keen eye for that shit.

          • bujiebuke

            I think your spot on about the barber shop turning tricks at night, looking back I think I may have noticed that as well.

          • NeverMind

            Just curious, what makes you vomit when you see something like that? Are you looking down on them?

          • bujiebuke

            Please don’t misunderstand me, I was referring to specifically the picture posted by biggj. The photo depicts a dimmed alley/street with two storefronts, one with a grinning auntie and another with a girl in lingerie sitting nonchalantly on a chair looking at her phone, while another looks away. There’s also some overweight guy in the corner that’s either their pimp or customer. Taken together, the whole picture looks seedy and grim, therefore it’s something that I’d avoid when possible.

          • WannabeXenophile

            Ah, so every little DOES help! ;-)

      • biggj

        Do you live in china?Have you even been to china? Just curious.

        • lonetrey / Dan

          Haha, nah I’m in USA. But I’ve been to China before. As a naive teenager.

          But I was just joking, I believed you the first time you said.

          • biggj

            Speaking of being naive, first time I was in Hong Kong I was just walking around Nathan road seen like a shit ton of “foot massage” shops with usually 2 sexy girls outside holding a menu. So I assumed well they must do foot and body message and maybe some happy ending shit, but my main concern was actually a real message. Well come to find out that’s not how it works. I just wanted a foot message and ended up getting a naked hot oil message with the girl being naked too…..I wont get into too many details but you can imagine what happened……and I honestly just wanted a foot message….the trickery lol. Live and learn.

      • David

        In Wuxi it is actully hard to find a real KTV or massage parlor (i.e. non sex related). Most, especially in New District, are just for good time.

    • Irvin

      Jealous wives of government officials can have that effect on televise cleavage.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      Well yeah. Officials don’t want the rest of China’s male population becoming aware of women having boobs. They’ll get horny and steal away all them prostitutes.

      Hey I probably put more thought into this than they did.

    • Stefan

      Not all cities have, for example I lived in Beijing and couldn’t find any, I searched the whole city.
      In Shanghai they are grouped in some places around Shanghai, thankfully I lived in of those areas. If someone has any questions about this just ask me, I can consider myself an expert in these things now.

      • Joey

        lol buddy, if you can’t find a whorehouse in Beijing, maybe you should work at a massage parlor yourself, since you’re obviously blind

        • Dr Sun


        • Stefan

          Where in Beijing? I lived at Wudaokou but visited all areas but couldn’t find any. All I found was massage parlors where they only did genuine massage.

          • Jahar

            ask a taxi driver

      • biggj

        Beijing has tons man. You just have to know what to look for. If it’s 2am and the barber shop is open….im sure they are not cutting hair in there. If you can’t find pussy in Beijing…I dont know what to tell you man. It’s actually hard to avoid it… Here man thins might help you out.


      • kinky_professor

        Ello Faptain Stefan, I am in Shanghai, could u tell me the direction to the nearest Fap Island please?? I am in Pudongxin.

        • Stefan

          Go to Gubei in west Shanghai, Shuicheng lu metro station.

      • Zappa Frank

        man is so sad… a long way from Sweden to become an expert in borthels

        • Stefan

          I lived in a red lights district while living in Shanghai so then just tried and then really enjoyed it so I went 3 times a week because that was my only chance to gt some pussy. For example I lost my virginity to a Chinese hooker. All the sex I’ve had in my life have been with hookers.

          • Paul Shanahan

            Beijing has plenty but they cleaned up the city centre.

            There are loads of pink lights still on the outskirts.

            City centre has a sex trade but it takes place in high end KTVs and ostensibly legit-looking massage parlours.

          • Zappa Frank

            Are you joking? You said in Sweden many girls were attracted by you but you didn’t want them because there was ‘no love’ and than you go hookers?

          • Stefan

            It was only after I came back from China that some Swedish girls have liked me. I don’t want to start a relationship because it’s hard to get put of an. I must be really sure that I really like the girls before. And it’s hard to have sex without relationship.

          • Zappa Frank

            Really? In Sweden? Isn’t the country of the easy sex? It’s a myth for. The whole europe … Well at least for the south.

          • Stefan

            Good luck in having easy sex in Sweden. Girls aren’t as easy as the rumor.

          • Zappa Frank

            You destroy one European myth… And maybe also the tourism in Sweden.

          • Mihel

            I’m sure entire generations of italian high school students went to Sweden during summer vacations just for swedish girls. I’ve heard Japan is the new Sweden in this sense.

          • Zappa Frank

            usually at the end of the high school, inter rail to get to cape north. but the legend was not related just to students. Anyway, so sad. Japan is a little bit out of hand for Europeans, I’ve heard legend of Japanese girls do this and that when are tourists in Europe, but it’s a completely different magnitude compared with the legend of Sweden girls, besides Sweden girls are considered by far more attractive than Japanese.

    • Dr Sun

      whats funny is these govt running censors are playing with naked chickens (prostitutes) at the KTV every night

    • Jahar

      Don’t forget the internet ads, especially for online games

    • monster

      dongbei whores are everywhere in sh.
      just had a fight with a dongbei whore,i’m glad police locked her with handcuffs.also tried best to protect me when do recording.
      i hate dongbei bitches.

      • Sharrma

        were you arguing over price ?

        • monster

          no! i do not need whore.
          she lived next to me, i did not know most girls live in this place are hookers. she always got back late, fking moaning at late night,talking till 5am,i told her before nothing changed,i kicked at the wall,botherred her business guess.
          rubbish dongbei whores! before i shared apt with a girl from dongbei too,also a pt whore,doing nothing everyday,just make money from men…but they are well-known in china for this.

          • Sharrma

            is it common for single men and women to share a apartment in China ?

          • mr.wiener

            Monster is in fact a woman… no joke.

    • OdinNG

      Check your home, maybe there is the largest whore house

  • Surfeit

    Lucky horse!

  • RickyBeijing

    I’ve seen this article a couple of times now, and the one thing that cracks me up every time is the name-dropping of fan-bing-bing. Am I supposed to know who that is?!

    “Ah you don’t know Fan Bing Bing?! She is very Famurss!!”

    NO!! I don’t know Fan Bing Bing, as I don’t know any Chinese actor apart from Jackie Chan or Lucy Liu or the regulars. Have YOU ever heard of the Belgian sensational acrobat and clown duo Bassie and Adriaan?! YOU HAVEN’T?!?! They too are VERY FAMURS!!!

    I know she was in the Chinese version of Iron man, but for obvious reasons I avoided the Chinese version like the plague that it was. Seriously though, China, get your shit together and realise that Chinese shit isn’t famous anywhere else. Every country has their homebred actors and entertainers that no one outside of their country has heard of, and Fan Bing Bing is just another one.

    • Alex Dương

      Um, are you talking about Chinese people in China name dropping Fan Bingbing, or Chinese people in Belgium name dropping Fan Bingbing?

      • RickyBeijing

        In China for the most part. It’s a notion that they have here that what’s famous here must be famous elsewhere. I assume they believe that because they don’t have any travel experience or whatever. In any case, every country has their celebrities that no-one outside of that country has heard of, Fan Bing Bing is popular in China, and I’ve heard that she went to Hollywood to work on something, but I doubt it is anything that will be screened outside of China with success.

        • Alex Dương

          So you are in China, you are talking to Chinese people in China, and you think it is arrogant of them to “name drop” a Chinese actress in China? I could see that if you were talking about Chinese people in Belgium. But you are talking about Chinese people in China.

        • fury

          Fan Bing Bing is popular in East_Asian_cultural_sphere. Korea and japan and Vietnam is outside China.

          • Boris

            Is she?
            When I lived in Korea or Japan, never heard of her.
            Only seem to know her since I was in China and her face plastered everywhere. That and her name is easy to remember.
            I know some other Chinese stars by face only.
            Really, Jet Li and Jacky Chan are the two really famous ones. Chow Yun Fat is another that is known but not by too many. After that, the rest are unknown worldwide.

        • Taddious

          I think I understand your frustration at being unclued as to who is in and who is out in the world of celebrities. However, I think on this one, you didn’t think things through.
          If you were an American in England, I would assume you know Johnathon Ross, Matt Lucas and David Walliams. If you didn’t, I would certainly think you to be a strange kettle of fish.
          A lot of Americans talk about all these talk show hosts, dropping names like Connel ‘o Brian or something like that. Like I should know… I’m a limey! The pure cheeck of it all.

        • fury

          you sun of beach. why dont you stay in islam zone in antwep. when you are in china follow the chinese rules

    • biggj

      How dare they!! Fucking chinese ass holes telling me who they think is famous!! The nerve of these fucking orientals!!! haha

    • bujiebuke

      Were you living in China when this conversation took place? Because if you were, then I think it’s reasonable for people to assume that you’ve tuned in on the local pop culture on some level. You don’t even need to have seen her on TV, her face is literally plastered everywhere in Chinese billboards and magazines at the grocery store.

      • RickyBeijing

        Ok, so I was half asleep when I wrote that this morning, however the point still stands. Yes, I’m in China.

        What I mean is that every country has their celebrities. In Ireland there are People like Dermot Morgan, or Tommy Tiernan, in the UK they have Graham Norton, Jeremy Clarkson, or to a lesser extent Holly Willoughby. Every country has those ‘celebrities’ that no one from outside the country has heard of. Another huge example is that none of my American friends had heard of the Eurovision, which is huge in Europe.

        My point is that in China there is this retarded national pride and patriotism as if to say ‘What?! you haven’t heard of this celebrity who is only famous here? Have you been living under a rock?’ I could ask the same thing regarding celebrities from other countries, but if someone has never heard of some obscure Polish cabaret singer, I’m not that surprised. Here in China, they believe that one of the judges on ‘the voice of China’ is an international superstar or some shit.

        I know Jackie Chan and the guy from ‘my boyfriend from the stars’ are plastered everywhere, but I don’t really care and it’s not a part of culture that interests me. I don’t need to know who Fan Bing Bing is to get through my day, so I don’t care. People acting like she is more famous/popular/important than Angelina Jolie are obnoxious.

        “You don’t know who Fan Bing Bing is?!?!”
        “No, are you familiar with the comedy stylings of Billy Connelly? You’re not!! You cultureless swine!”

        • bujiebuke

          “My point is that in China there is this retarded national pride and patriotism as if to say ‘What?! you haven’t heard of this celebrity who is only famous here? ”

          I think the “national pride and patriotism” bit is something that your reading into, rather than the actual expression of the person you were having a conversation with. More likely, they’re surprised at the fact that you’ve never heard of Fan BingBing or whatever local celeb given that you’ve lived in China for X amount of years.

          Pretty much everyone in the U.S. knows who Paris Hilton is, there’s no national pride there, but I’d expect a foreigner living in the states to know who she is after living here for a few years.

          Why in the world would you expect a few local Chinese to know who some obscure Polish cabaret singer is? That doesn’t make any sense at all unless they had traveled and lived in Poland.

        • OdinNG

          Excuse me but if what you said is true I can’t imagine what kind of guy you are to know such an idiot and took him(her) as representative of China, if someone recommended “the voice of China” or “the scream of China” or whatever they like to you.Then it’s just not what you are saying.

    • Sum Ting Wong

      They should talk about American pop stars only because I’m an American!

      • OdinNG

        GOOD TRYING sumsumwung

    • 宋易

      i think you lost this one, man. the people have spoken. lucy liu isnt even mainland chinese… her family is taiwanese and she grew up in new york.

      • Boris

        I don’t consider her a ‘Chinese’ actress. She’s American.

  • Vance

    Wow! Their Media is really uptight.

  • biggj

    If caught wearing this in china…..death by firing squad.

    • fury

      no firing squad ,dude, only Lethal injection.

    • KStyleBlue

      How is this legal in China, when that drama is not?!?! IS this a taiwan commercial?

      I love the boing! boing!

      • Boing Boing is a pretty good blog.

    • ClausRasmussen


    • Kai

      Ugh, we might have to delete this embedded video from your comment because the preview image features “lingerie”. Advertisers have complained about such “sexual/adult/mature” content.

      Frankly, this entire article is a great example of something advertisers have forced us to take down and censor. I’m only mentioning this because at least some of you have previously asked for examples of the issues we’ve faced and why we’re trying to move to direct crowdfunding.


      • biggj

        Fair enough, but if you have to delete this video then the whole story should be taken down if thats the case. I mean a horse licking a girls tits? A guy putting a smoke out on a girls tits? A guy squeezing a girls tits? A chinese lingerie commercial is mild in comparison…..just sayin.

        • Kai

          Sorry, Justin, I’m not trying to say your Chinese lingerie commercial is the main offense advertisers see here. They’d see the article and the images it involves first, and regardless of whatever sociological value or interest it has reflecting a Chinese internet phenomena reacting to a modern Chinese television series and the controversial censorship it has been subjected to.

          They don’t care that cS readers might be mature enough to understand the editorial mission of cS and mature enough to handle CONTEXTUALIZED violence, sexuality, and–in this case–illustrated satire. They care about about how they might look having their ad displayed next to something that isn’t “family-friendly” or some such.

          WHICH IS FINE. It’s their money. It’s just that some commenters have expressed skepticism about our appeal for direct support from our readers, so if we can point out the sort of content we’d publish in pursuit of our editorial mission but which could cause us to lose the advertising dollars we need to keep the site going as it is, it MIGHT prove sufficient to convince a few more people to become a patron, whether large or small. Fauna explicitly gave another example earlier with the Charlie Hebdo story.

          That said, if you’ll recall, we did make it clear that we are also responsible for making sure the user-generated content on our sites also aren’t offensive or “inappropriate”. I believe we’ve moderated out comments with pornographic images/videos in the past (you might have been responsible for some). I’m pointing out here that advertisers are not content with just that (obvious porn), that we have literally had demands to take down articles where there was “lingerie” shown, or a “close-up” of covered breasts or buttocks arbitrarily deemed “sexually suggestive”, or of “adult products” (in articles about their manufacture in China).

          So your lingerie commercial video, as an article or a user-generated comment, would be something they could and would complain about and cite as noncompliance with their policies. Each time that happens, cS has to take things down, do audits, make appeals, and suffer loss of revenue it needs to run.

          If you feel it is ridiculous, inconsistent, or hypocritical, you are in good company (namely, US), but it is nonetheless the truth of our situation and we are at their mercy. We just never publicly complained about it all these years, choosing to compromise and yield to their demands to avoid asking our readers for financial support because we GET that people like “FREE”.

          Currently, we’re operating in defiance and basically running on borrowed time. We know some people can’t wait to see us fail and die, for whatever reason they have, but we hope there are enough of you who not only get what we do but also appreciate it enough to help us keep going. We will try to muddle through no matter what, but it’s up in the air about what comes out the other end.

          Finally, I’ve always tried to give a “glimpse behind the curtain” with my comments on cS affairs, some tidbits of how we operate and why, often to defend us against unfair accusations or criticisms, because I figure our most die-hard commenters deserve it for simply paying attention and being mainstays of our community. I’m not trying to blame you specifically of anything, so I hope you understand I am merely using an opportunity you provided to illustrate the nature of our predicament and again appeal for community support.

          Translating trending internet content and culture is always going to risk involvement of violence or sex or controversial/offensive opinions. We know this. We’re not trying to feign surprise. If we were out to make money off advertising, we should’ve chosen a safer subject-matter. But we were never out to make money off advertising. We simply relied on it so cS could keep going for all you guys who read our work. If you don’t care for our work, that’s fine, we’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I hope those of you who do regularly enjoy our work will consider helping out a wee bit. I know it can be annoying to be solicited to, so thank you for your understanding and support.

          • biggj

            Yeah I understand, you can delete my post if you like…no hard feeling really. It was just something funny anyway to show why is A ok and B is not when it’s the same thing. ie cleavage.

            My opinion is just dont do stories like this. I know the point is if you don’t have to rely on commercials then this would not be a problem…..but since you do at the moment rely on them why even post post a story like this to begin with. There are 1000’s other interesting chinese stories that would be appropriate.When you post a story like this people will most likely talk about censors and tits since the story is basically about censors and tits or the lack there of. Unless you are being spiteful and just try to piss them off…. I dont know.

            I understand you need readers help to keep this free and queer..err.. I mean free and clear.lol People are hard to get money out of. It doesn’t hurt to try to get money but what happens if you dont? Once you start censoring the comment section to the point where its boring to read, you will loose a lot of readers. And something other web site will pop up that will allow what you don’t and people will just start going there. It’s just the way it goes. I don’t know what the solution is, but if you cant get enough readers to give money just try to find new sponsors for advertisements. I know thats hard, but what other choice do you have? I cant see you getting 5000 a month from readers….I could be wrong though. Don’t take this the wrong way…but what you do is not that important to a lot of people…if you where streaming movies or music or something sure people like that….and even then people don’t pay for that shit if they don’t have to. Most of the stories I read on here I have already read them somewhere else…..just the comment section makes me come back. Discus is the best thing that ever happened to this site. And I don’t know why, but a lot of other english chinese news/ popular sites I go to don’t have discus and it ruins it. Again, no offense here….but I find other sites story way more interesting then chinasmacks but the ones i like don’t use discus, so I only read and leave, where with china smack the discus is fun and interesting so I stay here far longer than the others.

            Don’t take what i said the wrong way. I’m just being honest with you. And in no way am I trying to be a dick about anything.

          • Kai

            Don’t worry, I get your point about showing the inconsistencies when it comes to Chinese censors, the silliness of censoring Tang Dyansty fashion when they allow lingerie commercials.

            I’m using this opportunity in the same vein. I’m trying to show readers the inconsistency and arbitrary nature of how some advertisers can and have interfered with what we have translated and covered on cS.

            The hope in doing so is that our readers better understand WHY we have gotten tired of it and are more sympathetic to our appeal for direct support from our readers, cutting advertisers and their interests out of the equation entirely.

            If we can be so bold, we’re like a movie director who insists on the studio allowing us to make an R-rated film because that’s the only way we feel we can do the film’s story justice. We get that a PG-13 rating will get us more audience and money, but we’re okay with less because we care more about telling the right story as best we can to the people whom we believe will most appreciate it. Our film is Chinese internet culture. The studio are our advertisers. We’re trying to figure this out.

            I’m glad you enjoy our comments section and our community here even if the content isn’t the most awesomest ever and you have plenty of alternatives for that. We like to think our content was critical in building up this community, that people discuss here because we’ve never been shy about showing things for what they are through objective translation, and having a very lenient comment policy.

            Even if you don’t see yourself as a fan of our content, I hope you’ll understand how the comments section and community is interconnected with our content. I hope commenters can consider chipping in a bit in order to protect the comments section and community from what some advertisers want us to do, which includes censoring and greater policing of user-generated content like comments.

          • yi_ge_yi_jian

            I actually logged into Discus to make a comment to Kai’s post, as well (above). As you stated, I am in complete agreement that Discus and the comments portion of cS is excellent, and it really shows to the quality of the moderators that there was even a public notification as well as explanation as to why your post might have to be censored.

            I do politely disagree, however, with your statement about not “doing stories like this.” Your pragmatic approach is sound, as cS is in a difficult position with their advertisers. Nevertheless, even though there are a multitude of other articles that could have been translated and placed on cS instead of this one, the mere thought of potential censorship whilst discerning articles for the mods to post may set a dangerous precedent. To further clarify, once this process has begun and become ingrained, the “feel” of the articles, and, by extension, the community, will, in my belief, begin to change, and not necessarily for the better.

            I am trying not to sound too conservative with regard to maintaining the status quo, especially in the face of pragmatic issues (i.e. the primary necessity of maintaining sufficient funding to exist /at all/), and I do recognize that the hallmark of many a healthy community includes evolution over time, but I am fearful for a loss of part of the zaniness of cS. For all the deep political discussions that occur on cS, sometimes it is exciting to click on a new post about boobs, or dicks, or irreverent hilarity.

            cS has managed, over the years, to maintain its edge (at least with me), in quality of a usable, pseudo-minimalist website, article selection, and user comments. So many other sites are flashes in the proverbial pan.

          • Kai

            Wow, dude, we’re flattered by this praise and support. Your second paragraph reflects our own feelings.

            I personally think cS has definitely gotten less daring. I remember when Fauna was a lot more “zany” in what she’d translate and post. Granted, not everything was legitimately “widely popular/trending” by the standards we pursue today, but they still showed me a fascinating side about China that I think many people would find legitimately interesting in a sociological sense, if not eye-opening.

            I also personally like the (sure, arguably) immature stuff about boobs or dicks, because I frankly find that so very “human”. It’s something people can identify with and feel connected by, which I think has some real world value.

            It’s interesting that you consider our site “pseudo-minimalist”. While I tried to design it to be simple to use, I don’t think most people would consider it “minimalist” simply because of how visual it is with all the thumbnails, background images, and even our hot pink highlight color. Minimalist to me would be lots of empty white space and less visual stimuli. I’ve actually been wanting to redesign the site to be minimalist, starting with taking out the black background and b/w background images, probably going for a traditional white background. Any thoughts on this?

          • yi_ge_yi_jian

            Thank you for the detailed and prompt reply! I apologize for my delayed response, as I was extremely busy over the past two weeks.

            As for being flattered — well, you, Fauna, and the cS team deserve it! The active userbase (and server costs), serve as a standing testament to that!

            With regard to the zaniness — indeed, communities evolve, so it is definitely difficult to determine whether or not this has been a positive progression. Although, if the decline in this attribute is recognized as something about which you, Fauna, and the rest of the team are actively thinking as you “filter” articles for the website (especially in light of the revelations about difficulties with advertisers), then it really does merit deep introspection as to how you all wish to proceed (and, you are definitely giving it due consideration).

            I do regard cS as a pseudo-minimalist site, as articles appear front and center, accompanied by a relevant picture, and recent comments are posted nearby. Articles are presented in a linear fashion, and within a predictable layout (article + netizen comments + related articles + cS comments). There are not, in my opinion, many unnecessary things cluttering the page, although, recently, there exists a fair amount of plugging at the bottom of the homepage which, admittedly, is most likely necessary for driving user interest in your sister sites, such as kB. The mouseover for original 汉字 serves as an awesome feature, and helps those such as myself with practicing translations on interesting media (which is one of the original motivations, as far as I can remember, for Fauna creating this site in the first place). The reason I say pseudo-minimalist is, as you have indicated, on account of the graphical assets, CSS, and JS/jQuery transitions that you employ, although the overall design is still “clean,” hence the “minimalist” categorization.

            I believe minimalist does not have to equate with bland, but, in web design (and I am no expert), relates more to ease of navigation and readability. Flare, as long as it is not laggy and cumbersome, is perfectly fine, and, once again, ties into the zaniness of cS. Hot pink highlighting on a black background? SMACK! Right? :P

            Some of your Lightbox and other jQuery scripts might be laggy (did a quick performance profile to check, which verified this) on slower machines (cS does load a lot of resources, which can perhaps be tough on slower VPNs, 网吧 machines, or whatnot), so if I may suggest doing something to the effect of keeping the cS pages generally as they are (if not leaving them untouched for the time being), but adding a toggle at the top for switching to a “light” version. Personally, I like dark backgrounds, so you could perhaps have a three-way toggle — one for this original dark theme, one for a light theme, and one for minimal graphical assets/plugins. A good test, I think, would be to ensure that the full-minimal version works with NoScript (especially seeing as how users that connect to your site via Tor, or are generally wary of scripting on Chinese sites, will most likely have this extension enabled). In this manner, you provide some reasonable options to users, yet also prevent backlash against a major alteration to the tried and true classic design you have now. You could even set the light theme as the new “default,” to force users to at least see it once, before they change their preferences back to the original SMACK ^_^

          • Dr Sun

            time you moved the site to wordpress, no sponsors needed

          • Kai

            Regular WordPress.com options (“Premium” and “Business”) are inadequate for us. It’d be like going back to basic shared hosting plans or low-end VPS setups. The website would be down much of the time.

            We’d probably have to start with their WordPress VIP service:


            “Starts at $5000 per month”

          • yi_ge_yi_jian

            Thank you for the comment, and, honestly, it is a great place to make a plug for becoming patrons, in my opinion (no, I am not one, as my financial situation has not been great over the years for donations, but, perhaps one day).

            That having been said, I am still rather confused as to the vicissitudes of these advertisers (I completely believe you, and cannot imagine the frustration, of course). Has not most of the content of cS over the years consisted of provocative stories? Not merely of political or social nature, but also stories that involve persecution, graphic violence, and death? Yet, these are unmentioned? Do these advertisers even /look/ at this website?

            I have been a reader and heavy lurker since your first year (so, naturally, I am not complaining), as cS provides what serves to be, in my opinion, a much needed window into some highly intriguing portions of the Chinese propaganda/news sphere, Chinese internet bloggers/comments, translation practice for myself, and the insightful comments of fellow cS users and moderators. Of cS’s content, a sizeable portion of posts either describe and/or depict blood or death. Which is allegedly OK, whereas cleavage, /even/ used to illustrate a point /directly/ related to the article and discussion at hand, is not? To make myself clear, I am not advocating of any censorship — I am merely attempting to illustrate how irrational these advertisers appear.

            Oh, one final remark — keep up the excellent work (you, Fauna, and the rest of the team), and…. as for donations… how about making cS T-shirts, again? As a tangible object with a donation fee included in the price, that is something I could get behind.

          • Kai

            Thanks for the vote of support.

            Most advertisers and ad networks do not generally audit the sites they advertise on. They look at traffic figures similar to how they’d consider circulation numbers for printed publications. Our site isn’t obviously about violence and sex either so initial cursory reviews of our site wouldn’t necessarily throw red flags for them. What they usually rely on is negative feedback. Only when they get a complain will they look more closely, demand change from the publisher, and potentially withdraw their advertising.

            Again, keep in mind that different advertisers have different sensibilities, and even the same advertiser can be inconsistent or even hypocritical about this. We’re also subject to subjective and arbitrary judgements by the individuals reviewing our site for violations or complaince. They may see a picture and flag something but not bother to read the surrounding text or care to understand what our site is about.

            I’m pretty sure we made it clear that past stories have also been cited as inappropriate or objectionable for certain advertisers. We’ve had to take them down or edit them to appease such advertisers. So no, they aren’t “unmentioned”.

            As our crowdfunding announcement made clear, advertisers are not only citing “cleavage” or content they consider “sexual” they’ve also cited the “blood or death”. This is why I said “CONTEXTUALIZED violence, sexuality” above. Also mentioned above, I pointed out how Fauna had used the Charlie Hebdo story as an example of what kind of “violent/disturbing content” has been objected to by advertisers, and that I was using this post to point out what sort of “sexual/adult content” advertisers would object to. All of this is based on what objections we’ve received before and have had to compromise on.

            We actually LOST money on the t-shirts we made before but we did them anyway because it was something fun we could do with our fans. We had plans to make a new t-shirt (maybe hoodies) earlier last year but our troubles with this issue put the idea on hold. If we price them high enough to actually make a profit substantial enough to help fund the site, it would still be a temporary influx of funds whereas we need to find a more stable, consistent, long-term funding solution.

            We’re currently stuck trying to figure out how long we can survive without the advertisers we’ve lost, and whether or not we can find funding to replace the funding they used to provide, which was not insignificant.

          • yi_ge_yi_jian

            You are welcome! And thank you for the detailed reply!

            I appreciate, in both your reply, as well as in the posts such as the one that you linked, how you and the cS team have been very aboveboard with detailing issues that occur in the running of cS (such as the issue of funding and advertisers). I agree with the sentiments that you have conveyed above.

            That does suck that T-shirts lost money overall =( Although, perhaps one-off items such as T-shirt or poster drives could assist in smoothing out rough patches in funding (say, if an advertiser drops with little warning). You could even do something perhaps such as fund a material drive via Kickstarter (with shirts or mugs or a personal thank you or something as higher reward levels [and one of the levels could be a spot on a thank you page hosted on cS, similar to what you do with your Patrons page [[thank you, Patrons!!]]]), because you will be guaranteed money and a number of orders prior to commissioning a production run (i.e. if it’s funded).

            It is really sad to hear about the loss of advertisers, and I know that dedicated hosting for a site of this size costs some serious ¥ (name servers are Dreamhost, and I know that even their cheapest dedicated servers are >1000 RMB/mo. [and I see that your goal for remaining stable are ~2500 USD/mo.]). I still believe there is hope (Patreon is a great way to have consistent donations ^^). Maybe there are some free press type NGOs that could be courted? I have no idea. Anyway, thank you for the information, and I, and most likely everyone else in this community, hopes that you are able to find some willing advertisers!

          • Kai

            Those NGOs think we’re too salacious. They’d be more interested if we were like freeweibo chronicling censorship and free speech issues. They tend to have ideological motives that we don’t subscribe to in our effort to just show what is popular, what is mainstream.

          • yi_ge_yi_jian

            Oh! One last thought — I am sure you have already done this, but I noticed on your profile that it says Shanghai. Have you thought about looking at local shops that ship things internationally for advertising? “Indie”-type stores, for example in 田子坊, or expanding stores that already ship internationally, such as Plastered T-shirts? These types of counterculture brands appeal quite directly to the cS demographic, and probably could garner quite a superior conversion rate as compared with some of the advertisers that I see on cS as of present.

          • Kai

            I think Plastered T-shirts has advertised before on cS. The legwork involved in approaching a bunch of small indie-type stores and selling them on advertising is prohibitive. I generally agree that such stores might “get” cS’s editorial and audience demographic better than other advertisers, but how big do you think the average booking would be vs. the time involved in making the sale? Would we want Fauna to spend her time translating or running around trying to introduce what cS is to small proprietors and convince them to book a month of online advertising? I know this sounds like making excuses but I think the difficulties are also pretty evident. :(

      • bossel

        Strange bedfellows you have. When I scroll down I see an ad from PBH network (whatever that is) with the text “99 unbelievably sexy pictures you gotta see!” & a pic of lascivious blonde with her breasts almost popping out.

        • Kai

          Yes, seriously. Keep in mind that not all advertisers or advertising platforms are the same or have the same sensitivities and policies, and like any larger site, we rely on multiple ones. A lot of ads are contextual, geotargeted, or interest-tracked ads, so what you see can easily differ from what others might see for many reasons including what country you’re in and what your browsing history is.

          If you read my response to BiggJ, it might provide you with some more details and context. Granted, if you don’t have experience in online publishing and advertising, all of this may seem foreign.

          Just understand we’ve already lost the advertisers who are sensitive to such things, and if we ever want them back (cuz they do end up providing a decent sum of revenue cS needs), we have to clean house somehow and diligently avoid such content and user-generated content in the future.

          The question is whether or not our readers care for this content. Even if they don’t, I think just about all of us who have contributed to cS over the years do, because we earnestly believe a lot of this stuff isn’t just for titilation or shock, but because they are notable reflections of both the Chinese internet and modern Chinese society. If we can’t cover them, we would no longer be satisfying our own interests, satisfying our desire to share a bit about this country through objective translation.

          cS thus dies, at least as a site that is accessible to tens of thousands daily.

    • Stefan

      See, Chinese girls have bewbs. :)

  • Zen my Ass

    The show looks horrible anyway, a little bit of cleavage was probably the only real bullet point they had.

  • bujiebuke

    I’d like to use this story as an open discussion about the lack of quality in Chinese TV. It seems that most of TV series pander to a narrow demographic by using teen model, cheesy special effects, and cringe worthy dialogue.

    Compare the 1980’s version of Ji Gong (济公) and Journey to the west (西游记) to anything more recent like Treasure Venture (侠女闯天关) where the first 5 episodes were good, but then the series took a nose dive by focusing too much on an awkward love story.

    Do people in mainland just kind of accept whatever is on and don’t really care about quality? Why/How did the production in Chinese cinema drop to the present day?

    • 宋易

      chinese media is pretty lame in general. movies are getting a little better in terms of production value, but the stories are still snoozers. dating ahows are painful to watch. its no wonder so many chinese watch korean and american shows, but no one outside china watches subtitled chinese shows.

      it is and always will be this way as long as an unelected government controls the airwaves.

      • ClausRasmussen

        I watched some pretty entertaining shows when I visited China. Sometimes the fun was unintended but nevertheless made me laugh out loud

        Not being able to understand Chinese I naturally gravitated towards the simplest shows that were almost exact copies of Western counterparts but with a unique Chinese twist that sometimes elevated it from trivial to hilarious

        For example dating shows where the loss of face of some slick guy took it to another level of gut wrenching embarrassment. Or shows where people run an obstacle course in a water park, but instead of reasonable fit Westerners you had skinny Chinese girls that were over matched by the challenges and only made it to the finish line on visibly shaking legs looking completely wretched and dog faced lol

        I also watched some social documentaries that made it painfully clear that China have a lot of problems to deal with, and some universal love & family drama you could also find on Western TV

        But all of this were exceptions, most programming were swords film, war movies, talent shows, or slapstick comedies so I agree with you that it is pretty lame in general

        But if you’re easily entertained and zap around a little I think you often can find something to kill your time

        • bujiebuke

          “But all of this were exceptions, most programming were swords film… I agree with you that it is pretty lame in general”

          A lot of those sword and fantasy films are adaptations of Jin Yong’s novels. The early one’s back in the 80’s were quite good in terms of acting and interpretation of the novels, but I think people would find the special effects outdated and gimmicky. Since then, they have made several remakes with each one getting worse in production value yet with a higher overall budget. I think there’s some missed opportunities that could draw interest from an international crowd.

          • ClausRasmussen

            China have a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, cool martial art, traditional costumes, and beautiful women. All the ingredients for an endless stream of high quality swords movies if they wanted to. A movie like Hero is an example of what they could do

      • bujiebuke

        Certainly censorship is controlled by the CCP, but do you think even the directors, producers/showrunners belong to that group?

        • 宋易

          I wouldn’t call them Party loyalists, not most of them, but I doubt you become a major TV producer or film director in CCP’s China if you’re not in the fold. As of late, Zhongnanhai is again pressuring gainsayers in the academic sector. Tread lightly and know your masters if you have the power to communicate with millions of people at once in China.

          • bujiebuke

            Now that I think of it, didn’t Zhang Yimou get a slap on the wrist for directing/producing “To Live”? A terrific film btw.

          • 宋易

            I’m not aware, but I it seems he rides the fence in a way others have not… he gets rebuked and praised by the Party at the same time.

            To Live and Not One Less are probably his greatest films, and hardly anyone has seen them… even young Chinese. Not one Less and Benji the Hunted are the only two movies that have ever made me cry in my entire life.

          • bujiebuke

            “Not one less”

            oh gawd, when that little brat was washing dishes and then saw his teacher on TV pleading…

            No I’m too emotional now to finish it.

          • 宋易

            I saw that movie about 6 years ago, found it in Emory University library… added the lead actress on facebook. She has since gotten married, had a kid, graduated from university in Hawaii, proficient in English…. she really made a life for herself, coming from a small village in rural China, born about the same time Mao retired to Hell. Mad props.

    • Teacher in China

      I gave up on Chinese TV ages ago. Then when I got married to a Chinese woman and moved in with her, I started watching it more. It still sucked. We both gave up on it, thankfully. The only reason I even turn on the TV anymore is to play Wii.

      • bujiebuke

        I personally haven’t been back to China in awhile now, but it sounds like the quality of programming hasn’t changed much. I guess vegging out in front of the TV is out of the question unless your using VPN to catch Game of Thrones.

    • Chestnut Bowl

      I have never been to China, but I have enjoyed some of the wuxia shows. Well, the choreography, at least.

      • bujiebuke

        sweet. Have you seen the Condor heroes trilogy? If not, here’s the first of that series which I think stayed true to the novel and had decent acting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4l54rlQxFM). Stick with the 2003 version, some of the others are pretty bad. I never found an adaptation of Return of the Condor Heroes that I liked, so I can’t make any recommendations. However, Heaven Sword Dragon Sabre, the last of the trilogy is pretty entertaining (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAb-MCgN520&list=PLjgeTob-8zELhwpiAlVdeBL0bkn7rpkK7).

        I’m still a sucker for the 80’s Hong Kong versions, but the special effects can be a bit of an eye sore for some. Let me know if you’re interested in watching the earlier ones instead and I can give you a link.

    • biggj

      I have a hard time watching any mainland movie or show. I love movies and I gave mainland film an honest try…it’s just garbage. Hong Kong has some good stuff…even like hero and crouching tiger and the critically acclaimed ones are not even really that great…they are just ok. They try to hard to be artsy.The story lines are just retarded and the actors are shitty.

      And you only have 3 shows to pick from anyway….either a China vs japan war show, a 1000 year old show about some dynasty or some modern love story where a cell phone is constantly ringing or some bitch is crying for 3/4 of the show.

      As much as I hate to give credit to america….they have the movies and tv shows on lock down. No one even comes close. The UK and Australia make good stuff, France is starting to make really good movies. Canada is just so so… I would say china is on the same level as bollywood shit….different styles but equally shitty. Actually I give bollywood movies the upper hand..the chick are way hotter.

      • bujiebuke

        Hehe, for sure. My only problem with bollywood films is that eventually, they will always break into song and dance…

        I just replied to another person, “To Live” directed by Zhang Yimou was a superb movie, give it a chance if you’ve never seen it.

    • Insomnicide

      It’s because the media is under tight control by the Censorate. In order for your show to air, it must be inspected by the Censorate and needs their permission to pass. So a lot of talented directors have very little room for creativity and daring bold moves. They resort to making internet short films or series instead. Most Chinese people now resort to watching Youku original internet dramas.

  • Amused

    In words I must borrow from the great American poet Andrew”The Diceman”Clay, “Here’s to you censors, here’s to you…. sucking my dick.”

  • UserID01

    I actually laughed at the image that showed a guy spilling ketchup while holding the burger. Totally unexpected.

  • diverdude7

    I like the one showing a little Lesbo Action,,, but the one gettin’ it on with an animal.. fkn gross…..

    the main chicky-baby is smokin’… I’d kick her out of bed for eating crackers… more room on the floor :-p

  • Jimbo

    Was watching Season 2 of Orange in the New Black on Tudou so me and my wife could get Chinese subtitles (since shooter.cn got shut down), and noticed certain scenes were cut out.

    I don’t even live in China anymore and I am still getting overwhelming fed up with the government’s shit. How hard is it to be a country that doesn’t feel like it is imploding on its own trauma? I know the cultural revolution was bad and all but you think a populace would be deemed capable of handling some old wrinkled prisoner titties.

    • 宋易

      whaaaaa…. why did.shooter.cn get shut down? that site was great.

      • Jimbo

        Yeah I am not really buying the copyright infringement reasoning, this feels more like censorship than anything.

    • Teacher in China

      Yeah I don’t know what me and wife are going to do when Game of Thrones starts up again. I’m certainly not going to watch a fucking edited version of it. Hopefully, someone internationally decides to pick up the slack and get on the Chinese subtitling thing.

      • Jimbo

        After posting this I started and looking for an alternative, and managed to find something decent off of reddit. Seems to have a lot, even mirrors shooter’s library, but some stuff still seems to be missing. http://subhd.com/

        • Teacher in China

          Great! I’ll keep it bookmarked and hope that it proves to be a good source. Thanks!

  • 宋易

    i will never comprehend why fan bing bing is so highly regarded for her looks. you couldnt pay me to fuck her. to say she is ugly is being kind.

    • Boris

      Being a bit ingenious there, no?
      I think she is pretty but has a weird look to her. Her head seems bigger on top then at the bottom.

      My main gripe with her is that she is a shit actress.

      • 宋易

        Do you mean ingenuous? Actually, neither ingenuous or ingenious make sense in your comment. I wouldn’t look at her twice on the street… no body, ugly face. And that’s with make up and professional photography. Could care less about her acting skills, would not expect her to have any.

        • Boris

          Yeah. Should proof read things, but I guess I can’t be bothered.

          Anyway, each to his own. I don’t think she is ugly, buy not great looking either.

          • realist

            Exactly, Boris, to each his own. I like Fan Bingbing, Li Bingbing, etc… You like who you like and 宋易 likes men. To each his own.

    • Teacher in China

      I think she’s pretty enough, but my main problem is that all I can see when I look at her is fakery and plastic surgery, which immediately turns me off.

      • Kai

        Anyone watch that Chinese “Big Brain” show when she was on it and had some guy determine if she has had plastic surgery?

        I personally think her left eye/eye socket is physically lower than her right side and makes for a lopsided face. Otherwise, I’m not gonna lie, I’d hit it.

      • Yes!

        Not sure if you know this, in China, the melon seed face – as per Fan Bing Bing (bigger at the top tapering towards the chin like a melon seed) is considered the face of top classical beauty. Tell a Chinese girl “you’ve got a melon seed face” chances are she’ll like you even more than before.

        • Teacher in China

          Oh yeah, I know all about that. My wife is a guzheng player, and a lot of the girls she studied with at university have since gone on to begin careers and try to find rich husbands. A HUGE portion of them have had plastic surgery, and the most popular thing to do is to get the jawline shaved down to get the fan bing bing “melon seed” look. I think in the next 10 years or so, China’s going to be like Korea – plastic surgery is getting more and more popular and affordable.

          • Insomnicide

            An unfortunate side effect of becoming economically more affulent and socially more mobile.

  • phiota

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/opini … .html?_r=0

    KONG — A FEW years back I got a call from a film director based in
    China who had read one of my detective novels. “Can you help me write a
    screenplay for a crime story?” he asked. “The tricky thing is that it’s
    set in Beijing, so no crime can be involved.”

    Welcome to the
    world of screenwriting for China, where crime stories are crime free,
    ghost tales have no ghosts and crooked politicians can’t be crooked.

    has a large film industry and the second-biggest box office in the
    world, but few people outside the country have ever watched a Chinese
    movie released there: Once you’ve seen one acrobatic hero
    single-handedly dispatch an enemy platoon, you’ve seen a lifetime’s
    worth. For that, you can blame the rules of film censorship in China,
    and a Chinese government extremely sensitive about how the nation is

    No one can start making a film in China without
    submitting the plot to the State General Administration of Press,
    Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SGAPPRFT), an agency set up to
    administer government-owned media but best known (and feared) as a
    committee of censors. If any organization from outside mainland China is
    involved, including Hong Kong partners, a full screenplay must be
    submitted for review. Once approved, it can’t be modified, meaning
    actors and directors must resist any urge to improvise during filming.

    irregular intervals the agency provides a list of unmentionables. Sex
    scenes or depictions of “excessive drinking, smoking and other bad
    habits” are a no-go. “Propagating passive or negative outlook on life,
    worldview and value system” is banned; so is “stirring up ambivalence
    and conflicts between different religions or sects, and between
    believers and nonbelievers, causing disharmony in the community.”

    vetting committee might reject a story line for being “unscientific,”
    because, say, it features time travel. It also bans “historical
    untruths,” which, this being China, often means historical truths.

    ethnicity of villains is a major concern as well. “If it’s about
    international crime, the bad guy must not be Chinese,” explained a Hong
    Kong screenwriter with 25 years’ experience. (He asked not to be
    identified for fear of being blacklisted.) Furthermore, the crime must
    not be initiated within China’s borders, as if the land itself were
    somehow pure. All characters in the uniformed services must be good
    guys. Government employees may never be corrupt. There are no
    prostitutes in China.

    Getting a SGAPPRFT permit is just the first
    hurdle. If the hero is a monk or the setting is a temple or a church,
    the script will also require a permit from the State Administration for
    Religious Affairs. If it’s a spy movie, national security agents will
    have to vet it. For cop shows, you need approval from the police’s
    so-called art department.

    Ghost stories are farcically
    problematic. In the spring of 2006, an online novel by Zhang Muye called
    “Gui Chui Deng” (literally “Ghost Blows Out the Light”) was enormously
    popular. It was read by millions. There was much excited discussion
    about a print version and an international movie adaptation. Then the
    project stalled. The government-licensed version of the book published
    in print was purged of any reference to the supernatural, and with that,
    the film project vanished, too.
    Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
    Continue reading the main story

    least half of Hong Kong movies today are co-produced with mainland
    organizations, and screenwriters here are also having to toe the Beijing
    line. “That’s why we usually make ‘ancient swordsman’ films, or stories
    that happen in the period before the founding of the New China,” the
    Hong Kong screenwriter explained. He meant that you can show something
    negative in mainland China only so long as it happened before the
    Communist revolution in 1949 — but be careful not to portray that period
    as a golden era, because for that you might get censored.

    Can a
    good story be written under such conditions? It’s difficult. Some
    screenwriters have managed through cunning: One director squeaked a
    crime movie set in Hong Kong past the censors after claiming the action
    took place before the transfer in 1997, while the territory was still
    under the rule of those evil Brits.

    More often, the rules kill
    creativity. The 2002 Hong Kong movie “Infernal Affairs,” a gripping tale
    about a triad member who infiltrates the police, was remade in
    Hollywood as “The Departed,” which won four Oscars, including one for
    best adapted screenplay. In the original, the gangster antihero
    ultimately avoids being exposed by killing someone in his own gang. Is
    he still faking it, or has he become the top cop he was pretending to
    be? In the version of the film that was reshot in China, the ending is a
    clunker: Confronted by police officers who accuse him of being a mole,
    he turns in his badge without a word.

    That crime story I co-wrote
    with the Chinese director had to be rejiggered multiple times. It
    eventually resulted in an implausible tale about an Italian businessman
    who flies into Beijing, steals a huge cache of art treasures, and flies
    out while pursued by noble detectives of Chinese origin. It was never
    filmed, to my relief.

    The problem is not about to go away.
    According to Xinhua, the state-run news agency, China’s uncompromising
    president, Xi Jinping, told a forum of writers in October, “The arts
    must serve the people and serve socialism.” Anthony Lee, a Hong Kong
    Polytechnic University lecturer on entertainment, said, “The buzz in the
    industry is that the toughness of China’s new leader is making things
    harder, not easier.”

    Screenwriters may find some hope in the fact
    that in the long run the Chinese public, and investors, will demand
    global standards of story writing. On a domestic airline in China
    recently, I noted that a movie showing a lone Chinese hero defeating a
    Japanese horde was playing on drop-down screens. Not one passenger
    seemed to be watching it. Instead many were watching Hollywood films on
    portable devices.

    • NeverMind

      I think in your thesis against Chinese censorship you forgot to note movies from Chow Yun Fat which are full of gun-violence, organized crime and Chinese triads.

  • David Fieldman

    The SARFT got their jollies, of course. However, because of their lascivious thoughts, pehaps one or more had heart attacks and were rushed to hospital.

  • Alex

    They’ve gone a bit too far

  • Mighty曹

    When is this video available?

  • Dr Sun

    ridiculous censorship, my wife loves this show, but now she just calls it the “big head show” as that is all you see now.

  • ClausRasmussen

    >> Don’t expect China to make sense

    Haha, it’s part of the charm.

    Anyway, China is a big country where it is difficult to implement or even enforce policies from an office in Beijing. They can do it for a branch, a city or a region, or for a period of time like in the 100 days campaigns they’re so fond of, but they can’t do it for all parts of business, in all regions, all the time

  • RickyBeijing

    “an if you don like it, ye kin giiiiiiiit out”

    – We can always root out those lacking in intelligence with these kinds of statements. Thank you for proving your own worthlessness.

    Enjoy inbreeding etc.

  • Boris

    They could change the costumes to cover up the bits instead of cropping things out. May not be historically accurate but this is China.

    • vincent_t

      That drama already shot and released. Care to elaborate how could they change the costumes now?

      • Boris

        To be honest, I don’t watch Chinese dramas. The few that I’ve seen have pretty much turned me off it and Fan Bing Bing is a bad actress. I did see part of an episode as other people were watching it and I assumed it was Fan Bing Bing’s work from before she was such a ‘big’ star being re-aired on TV.

        Anyway, the shots could be redone (which would require the actors to come back in), or some clever use of CGI could work. Though I am guessing they don’t have the budget for either of those.

        Cropping out everything but the head seems like the best way to go about it.

  • jonny


  • jonny

    fan bing bing looks like a wax figure. real gross

  • David

    It is a pretty good show. Sort of an Asian version of ‘Rome’. We will see if they screw up season 2.

  • lm

    I am not against showing cleavage….but in historical period China, no way the women show any skin! So there, this is just a 3rd rate movie for showing cleavage in this movie as their selling point.

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