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China bars celebrities from showing off wealth and 'extravagant pleasure' on social media, saying pop stars must comply with 'core socialist values'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 11/23/2021 (Hannah Towey)
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xinhua/Rao Aimin via Getty Images © Xinhua/Rao Aimin via Getty Images Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xinhua/Rao Aimin via Getty Images
  • Celebrities in China can no longer post "unethical" content, the country said Tuesday.
  • This includes content that "shows off wealth" and "extravagant pleasure," the notice said.
  • The move is part of the Chinese government's crackdown on the entertainment industry and fandom.

Celebrities in China can no longer "show off wealth" or "extravagant pleasure" on social media, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced Tuesday.

Both celebrity and fan-club accounts must "follow public order and good customs, adhere to correct public opinion orientation and value orientation, promote socialist core values, and maintain a healthy style and taste," China's internet-regulation agency said in a statement.

The announcement follows the Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on the country's growing entertainment industry as officials push back against celebrity scandals and online fan groups it says cause social disorder.

Tuesday's notice also prohibits celebrities from spreading rumors, publishing false or private information, provoking fan groups to "verbally attack each other," and encouraging fans to partake in "illegal fundraising or irrational investment."

On the same day, the China Association of Performing Arts barred 88 people from livestreaming, including the Chinese Canadian pop star Kris Wu, who was recently accused of sexual assault.

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The group said the list was designed to "strengthen industry self-discipline" and "prevent illegal and unethical artists" from reentering the industry.

In August, China's entertainment regulator deleted the presence of Zhao Wei, one of the country's most popular actresses, from all social-media and streaming platforms. While officials did not provide a reason behind Zhao's removal, state-backed media cited "various scandals over the years," such as a $7.45 million investor lawsuit. 

To enforce the new rules, Chinese social networks must monitor and report "suspected illegal and criminal acts of exposed stars, and group conflicts involving fans" to the authorities, while moderating content that may prompt social disorder, the notice said. 

Access to global apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube is blocked in China, so users rely on domestic sites subject to censorship, such as Weibo, Renren, and Youku. 

China recently faced scrutiny after the tennis star Peng Shuai accused a former senior member of the Chinese Communist Party of sexual assault in a post on Weibo, which was later removed. She remained unseen for nearly a month until Sunday, when she talked to the International Olympic Committee over a video call. 

"Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness," Women's Tennis Association Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement. "We expect this issue to be handled properly, meaning the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship."

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