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   2016: July-Sept

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25th September

  Don't hold your breath...


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Sony waste their time appealing for a 15 rating after the New Zealand film censor rants about the violence in Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe
Link Here
Dont Breathe Blu ray Don't Breathe is a 2016 USA horror thriller by Fede Alvarez.
Starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Stephen Lang. IMDb

Rocky, a young woman wanting to start a better life for her and her sister, agrees to take part in the robbery of a house owned by a wealthy blind man with her boyfriend Money and their friend Alex. But when the blind man turns out to be a serial killer, the group must find a way to escape his home before they become his newest victims.

New Zealand's Film and Literature Board of Review has upheld the Chief Censor's R18 classification of the Sony Pictures film, Don't Breathe. The classification also carries the warning Contains violence, sexual violence and offensive language .

Sony Pictures appealed the Chief Censor's decision to the Film and Literature Board of Review, and made a submission for a lower classification.

In its decision, the Board of Review noted that their consideration of the movie comes shortly after the government's announcement that domestic violence in New Zealand:

Is at such a level and of such concern that significant political and social measures are necessary to address this problem. Movies which depict extreme violence and sexual violence towards women are of concern to New Zealand society as a whole.

Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack said in a press release that he welcomes the Board of Review decision, stating that it helps increase New Zealanders' awareness of violent entertainment and supports their right to choose what they and their families are exposed to. He went on to rant that the Classification Office is viewing an increasing amount of horrific and gratuitous sexual violence in mainstream entertainment targeting young people. He concluded: Violent media is helping to shape a violent New Zealand.

In its submission, Sony said they did not agree with the original descriptive note, assigned by the Classification Office, that the movie contained sexual violence . Sony stated there was no sexual violence in the film. They sought an RP15 classification.

For comparison:

  • In the UK, the BBFC rated the film 15 uncut for strong violence, sexual threat, strong language
  • In the US it was MPAA R rated for terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references.

 

24th September

 Updated: Epic intolerance...


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Ben-Hur censored in Malaysia
Link Here  full story: Cesnored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Ben Hur DVD Jack Huston Ben-Hur is a 2016 USA historical adventure drama by Timur Bekmambetov.
Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell and Rodrigo Santoro. Youtube link IMDb

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Malayisia's Film Censorship Board (LPF) said it was not to blame for the censorship of scenes involving Jesus Christ from the Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur .

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid further said he did not recall seeing such scenes from the movie submitted, adding that it was possible the Malaysian version is a different version from those shown elsewhere. He told Malay Mail Online:

Maybe, but not by us, probably by producers when they sent the film to Malaysia, they already cut the scenes, they know (there's) some sensitivities.

Halim said he was certain that the board did not remove the scenes that included Jesus, which were pivotal to the plot of the story.

Local viewers had taken to Facebook to complain of censorship of Ben-Hur, with scenes of Jesus forming key plot points allegedly taken out.

One Facebook user, Jasmine Sia, who watched the film on Friday night, said no scenes involving Jesus was shown at all. she told Malay Mail Online:

I felt cheated. The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ . It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah's mother and sister get cured from leprosy?

No, they did not show anything with regards to healing. They just appeared at the end of the movie healed. That's why it made no sense.

The local distributor of the film, United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, acknowledged on its official Facebook page that the local edition was not identical to that shown elsewhere, after one user named Jerry Terry Derulo pointed out that the runtime here was 11 minutes shorter than listed on movie database IMDB.

Update: Export Version

24th September 2016.  See  article from themalaymailonline.com

Universal has confirmed that there is a special export version of Ben-Hur for intolerant countries that ban the depiction of other religions to their own. The latest Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur has an export version that has been edited to remove scenes featuring Jesus Christ. A Universal spokesman explained:

We submitted into the Censor board a Studio pre-edited version which was available for countries that do not allow the depiction of prophets on film whether by law or due to local sensitivities.

We learned from past titles submitted to the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) that no Prophets are allowed to be depicted on film. In Malaysia, previous films such as Noah and Exodus which depicted prophets were banned by LPF.

UIP Malaysia said the Malaysian version which was pre-cut to a total running time of 114 minutes is also available for other countries.

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid confirmed that LPF adopts the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia's (Jakim) guidelines for films, adding that the body tasked with overseeing religious matters and even the police are sometimes invited to view films together. He added:

But we also have some guidelines from Jakim that any films cannot portray all the prophets or the angels, even the Satan in the context of Islam. Anything mentioned in Quran cannot be visually portrayed in the form of character, figure or drawing.

 

23rd September

  Traditional censorship...


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Silly censors ban silly tourism video using ancient Thai characters in a modern setting
Link Here
thai tourism khon Thailand's Culture Ministry has banned video that promotes Thai tourism through Khon characters.

Scenes showing the Ramakien epic character Thotsakan (Ravana) on horseback, a jet ski, a go-kart, and a tuk-tuk in the music video will be banned. Also facing the axe are scenes showing the imaginary king of giants cooking Thai sweetmeat.

The video's director, Bandit Thongdee, explained:

The Culture Ministry says such scenes are inappropriate. It says Thotsakan should be riding an elephant.

Bandit said the Culture Ministry seemed to want about 40% of the video to be censored.

Culture Ministry permanent secretary Apinan Poshyananda tried to play down the censorship, suggesting that the re-edited version could be even better.

 

18th September

 Update: Epic intolerance...

Ben-Hur censored in Malaysia
Link Here  full story: Cesnored Films in Malaysia...Film censors and censorship
Ben Hur DVD Jack Huston Ben-Hur is a 2016 USA historical adventure drama by Timur Bekmambetov.
Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell and Rodrigo Santoro. Youtube link IMDb

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Malayisia's Film Censorship Board (LPF) said it was not to blame for the censorship of scenes involving Jesus Christ from the Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur .

LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid further said he did not recall seeing such scenes from the movie submitted, adding that it was possible the Malaysian version is a different version from those shown elsewhere. He told Malay Mail Online:

Maybe, but not by us, probably by producers when they sent the film to Malaysia, they already cut the scenes, they know (there's) some sensitivities.

Halim said he was certain that the board did not remove the scenes that included Jesus, which were pivotal to the plot of the story.

Local viewers had taken to Facebook to complain of censorship of Ben-Hur, with scenes of Jesus forming key plot points allegedly taken out.

One Facebook user, Jasmine Sia, who watched the film on Friday night, said no scenes involving Jesus was shown at all. she told Malay Mail Online:

I felt cheated. The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ . It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah's mother and sister get cured from leprosy?

No, they did not show anything with regards to healing. They just appeared at the end of the movie healed. That's why it made no sense.

The local distributor of the film, United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, acknowledged on its official Facebook page that the local edition was not identical to that shown elsewhere, after one user named Jerry Terry Derulo pointed out that the runtime here was 11 minutes shorter than listed on movie database IMDB.

 

17th September

 Update: Deviant censors...

Intolerant Indonesia seeks to ban gay networking apps
Link Here  full story: Gay Intolerance in Indonesia...Gay life winds up the intolerants
grindr logo Indonesia is planning to ban gay networking apps , in the latest demonstration of the country's growing intolerance toward the LGBT community.

A government official confirmed that authorities are already moving to block at least three apps, Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy.

But the ban could be much broader. According to Buzzfeed , more than 80 websites and applications geared toward sexual and gender minorities could fall under the injunction. AFP cited communications ministry spokesperson Noor Iza as claiming that such websites promote sexual deviancy.

The spokesperson said that letters had been sent to three online service providers requesting that the apps be blocked, but it is unclear whether they will adhere to the bid.

 

16th September

 Offsite Article: Censor grab on land grab protest...

Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
wukanThis week, Chinese police carried out a vicious crackdown on demonstrators in the southern Chinese fishing village of Wukan, now the authorities are trying to censor news about the protest

See article from qz.com

 

13th September

  Horror and Cruelty...

New Zealand film censor re-rates Suicide Squad after complaint
Link Here
suicide squad 2016 david ayer Suicide Squad is a 2016 USA action crime fantasy by David Ayer.
Starring Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne and Will Smith. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

The film caused a little bit of a stir as a few film censors from around the world decided that the US PG-13 rating was a little low. A selection of international ratings are:

  • US: MPAA rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.
     
  • UK: Passed 15 uncut for sustained threat, moderate violence.
     
  • Australia: Rated M (an advisory PG-15) for violent and offensive language content.
     
  • Rest of the World: And the world censors seem to have mostly sided with the American film censor. Netherlands (12), Norway (12) , Singapore (PG-13) and Ireland (15A) all being lower than the UK. Russia opted for a higher 16 rating though.

Meanwhile in New Zealand to keep the cost of film censorship down, accept by default the lower Australian rage ratings, unless challenged. In this case a viewer complaint led to a re-rating. The film censors of the OFLC explained:

New Zealand R13 rating The complainant felt the unrestricted M rating was inappropriate considering the nature of the supernatural horror and violence in the film, noting that the film had been given a restricted 15 classification in the UK:

Questions that [children in the audience] loudly asked of each other...seemed to suggest that they didn't understand what they were seeing which, when it comes to the themes in the movie leaves me seriously worried for what they might have taken away from the experience, for example in respect of the abusive relationship between Mr J and Harley, or the situation of Diablo and his guilt over having killed his family. To name only two of the rather serious and complex matters raised in the movie. Initial complaint about Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad was originally given an M rating through the cross-rating process -- where a film that has been given an unrestricted rating in Australia is assigned the equivalent rating in New Zealand. This is standard practice for commercial films distributed in New Zealand, however the Classification Office has the authority to classify cross-rated films if there is uncertainty about the appropriateness of the rating. The M rating means anyone of any age can view the film, but that it is more suitable for mature audiences 16 and over.

Following examination by the Classification Office, the original rating -- M violence and offensive language -- was changed to R13 violence, horror and cruelty .

 

30th August

 Update: Moral Censors...

China is set to pass another film censorship law mandating morality standards for film makers
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in China...All Chinese films censored to be suitable for kids
sarft logo China will soon enact a new film censorship law banning content relating to preaching terrorism and mandating clearance of a film by three 'experts' and also demanding that film personalities  abide by morality standards.

The law is currently being reviewed by China's legislature the National People's Congress (NPC). According to the bill, people working in the movie industry, including actors and directors, should strive for excellence in both professional skills and moral integrity, and build good public images.

The draft law also stresses that film distribution companies and cinemas should not fabricate movie screenings and ticket sales or take other improper means. This followed reports that Chinese film firms tried to inflate revenues with fake shows to inflate box office earnings to claim success.

The new law requires that films shall not contain any content preaching terrorism and extremism, and films shall be reviewed by at least three 'experts'.

Trigger warnings should be given to viewers, if films contain materials that might cause psychological or physical discomfort to viewers, such as minors.

 

21st August

  Sunday morning advert break...

New Zealand government proposes to extend TV censorship to online services and to ease a ban on Sunday morning adverts
Link Here
New Zealand flag New Zealand's government is set to introduce a Digital Convergence Bill which will extend the Broadcasting Act to cover on-demand content.

That will have implications for the way services such as Spark internet television service Lightbox and Netflix classify their programmes. The classification of broadcast and on-demand content would be handled the same way under the Broadcasting Act, with complaints handled by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

The new censorship regime will not extent to news and current affairs or to user-generated content such as videos uploaded by the public.

The bill will also introduce an exclusion to the current blanket ban on TV advertising between the hours of 6am and noon on Sundays. Adverts will soon be allowed but only during special events s uch as the Rugby World Cup.

The theory behind the Sunday morning ad-ban has been that it encourages broadcasters to show low audience special interest programming such as religious programmes without concern that they may be missing out on larger audiences that would be of interest to advertisers.

 

19th August

 Update: New Zealand ISPs introduce optional website blocking services for families...

And promises future upgrades to allow different censorship levels for different devices...
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking
vocus logo Several thousand New Zealand families have signed up to use an internet blocking service that is designed to prevent access to a wide range of websites with adult content.

Vocus, which owns the Slingshot, Orcon and Flip internet brands, began offering its network level family filter a few weeks ago. Stuff Fibre has announced it will also offer a blocking service, called Safe Zone, which its managing director Sam Morse said would be more flexible.

Vocus consumer manager Taryn Hamilton said parents often eschewed parental control software that they could install on individual computers and other devices, as it was complex, possible to circumvent and often did not cater well for smartphones. Hamilton said that the Vocus Family Filter instead blocks content at the network level so that the same level of censorship applies to all devices in a household. He added that parents could easily switch the filter on and off, if they chose, using their account password.

Vocus plans to provide the filter free for a year, after which it will charge $5 a month. Hamilton said Vocus' filter was being provided by United States company Fortinet and was designed to screen out:

  • R16+ nudity and pornography
  • sites featuring dating, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, gambling
  • websites about hacking, the dark web and other illegal activities
  • sites that promote self harm or suicide and known infected or hacked sites

Stuff Fibre managing director Sam Morse said its Safe Zone service would be more flexible. Rather than only having a single on/off switch , Safe Zone would come with a range of pre-configured profiles . Not long after launch, it would let customers configure settings differently for devices on a network so you will be able to decide what set-up you want for Johnny's iPhone ..

 

6th August

  Noodle headed censors...

Indonesian PC extremists get all worked up about a noodles snacked named bikini
Link Here
bikini noodles indonesia Indonesia's Child Protection Commission has called for a ban on a rice noodle snack called Bikini whose packaging features a cartoon image of a woman in a bikini and a label which says squeeze me .  The commission's Maria Ulfah Anshor whinged:

There is no relation between rice noodles and bikini. Regardless of the producer's intention, it creates an improper situation for children and triggers pornographic thoughts. The producers could have offered something more relevant rather than sex-related content on its packaging.

The snack, which has been on sale for about a year, has caused frenzied debate on social media and was labelled immoral by the mayor of Bandung, where it is believed to be manufactured. The name Bikini is made up of letters from bihun kekinian , which means trendy rice noodles.

Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, which typically monitors ingredients, said it had launched an investigation and believed the snack should never have been allowed to be sold. The agency's Penny Lukito, whinged:

It's clear that with such porn nuances there is no way we would let them go into the market.

According to a report in The Jakarta Post, the Bikini snack ban was part of a growing moral panic .. The newspaper explained:

The [food agency's ]reactionary move is the latest example of government support for a conservative agenda, clamping down on anything it deems hazardous to the nation's 'moral fibre'.

After such good publicity, the snack has inevitably proven popular online.

 

24th July

  Another Peace TV banned...

This time in Thailand where the 'red shirt' political channel is banned for criticising the military government
Link Here
peace tv thailand logoThailand's PEACE TV has been banned for 30 days at midnight on Thursday on the orders of government TV censors of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

When the fate of the station was uncertain on Thursday, hundreds of red-shirt supporters gathered at the Imperial World department store in Lat Phrao to give moral support.

The red-shirt satellite channel was suspended for criticising the military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and supposedly instigating conflicts that caused divisions in society.

The station will remain off the air for a month unless the Supreme Administrative Court grants an injunction against the NBTC order.

In the meantime, Peace TV executives including UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan will televise shows online including via Facebook Live.

 

23rd July

 Update: The Hidden Economy...

Another issue of the Economist has been withdrawn from Thailand
Link Here
economist july 2016The Economist magazine won't distribute its next issue in Thailand, according to a note sent Friday to subscribers.

The periodical, which over the years has been censored and withheld in Thailand, said its July 23 edition would not be available, presumably due to an article about Thailand's monarchy and its military government. The magazine wrote:

Due to sensitive content in this week's issue and the resulting potential risk to our distributors, we will not be distributing the July 23rd 2016 print edition of The Economist in Thailand.

 

22nd July

 Offsite Article: A 'referendum' where campaigning is banned...

Link Here
global voices logoAs Constitutional Referendum Nears, Thailand Intensifies Censorship. By Mong Palatino

See article from advox.globalvoices.org

 

20th July

  Adapting to Netflix...

Singapore media censors decide to allow the likes of Game of Thrones to be shown uncut on internet TV
Link Here
singapore ratiing symbolsThe arrival of a worldwide version of Netflix has been challenging the censorship rules for TV and internet in many a nation used to being able to censor its local media.

Singapore has relaxed local rules a little to accommodate internet TV. Singapore has 2 adult ratings that are pitched such that for example, Game of Thrones is uncut at R21 but must be cut for an M18.

Singapore's TV and internet censors at the Media Development Authority (MDA) have decided that R21 content can be shown on internet TV provided that it is protected with an age verification system.

The new rule says that if you are an online content provider (Netflix, iTunes or Google Play, or any number of players offering K-drama or Bollywood movies), you must provide age-check firewalls for R21 content.

Until the rule change Netflix, which started in the country in January 2016, had an advantage over local providers. It offered R21-rated shows such as the comedy, Orange Is The New Black and period drama Marco Polo  available with PIN protection. Local providers had to cut their shows for an M18 rating.

 

17th July

 Offsite Article: International Pixellisation...

Link Here
Learning Hard Way Hentai AnimeHow Japanese censorship screwed up the international market for Hentai

See article from animenewsnetwork.com

 

14th July

  Tradebusters...

Cinema group decides to not to release Ghostbusters in China due to the county's film censors banning the depiction of ghosts
Link Here
ghostbusters 2016China's film censorship rules ban the depiction of ghosts under the restrictions that movies must not promote cults or superstition. The rule is a euphemism for banning movies depicting, or promoting, religion, but nevertheless it is used to ban anything more widely supernatural.

Obviously Hollywood was considering the possibility of a Chinese release of Ghostbusters as it had generated publicity under a new local tile without the word 'ghost', Super Power Dare or Die Team. However the China Film Co., the dominant state-owned film body that handles the import and release of all foreign movies in the country, has decided not to release Ghostbusters.

An executive of the group covered for the Chinese censorship, with a propaganda statement claiming:

Most of the Chinese audience didn't see the first and second movies, so they don't think there's much market for it here.

Sony isn't commenting, but a Hollywood source with knowledge of the situation says the film hasn't been officially submitted for approval by Chinese film censors.

 

7th July

 Update: Solidarity amongst dictatorships...

Twilight Over Burma is banned by the Thai film censor from showing at a film festival
Link Here  full story: Censored Films in Thailand...Thai censors hack away
twilight over burmaTwilight Over Burma is a 2015 Austria TV drama by Sabine Derflinger.
Starring Zoe Addams, Sahajak Boonthanakit and Daweerit Chullasapya. IMDb

The U.S. scholarships Austrian student Inge and young mining student from Burma Sao Kya Seng fall in love. But it's only at the lavish wedding ceremony that Inge discovers her husband is the ruling prince of the Shan state of Burma. After a coup staged by the Burmese military, Sao is imprisoned. Inge does everything she can to free him. Base on the true story of Inge Sargent.

Burma: Banned from June 2016 film festival

An Austrian TV movie, Twilight Over Burma, has been banned from a Burmese human rights film festival by the local film censor.

Burma's Film Classification Board's deputy director general Daw Thida Tin told the BBC that the film had been banned for the sake of national unity and also the stability of the country and of our people .

the film festival organisers say they were also told that the censors saw the film as damaging to the image of the army.

Thailand: Banned from July 2016 film festival

The film was banned by the Thai film censor from a film festival of films made in Thailand.

The reason was attributed to solidarity amongst dictatorships. Though the organisers have not issued any official statement, the reason behind the withdrawal is said to be related to bilateral ties between Thailand and Burma.

The film, known in Thai as Singsaengchan and was mainly shot in Chiang Mai province and at Inle Lake in Shan State's capital Tongyi.

 

7th July

  App attack...

China expands censorship of games an apps
Link Here
sarft logoThe Chinese government is taking up new censorship measures to root out what it claims as undesirable content in mobile games.

Under the new set of procedures released by China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), all mobile games released in China going forward must comply to an extensive set of rules and be submitted for review 20 days in advance of the game's release date. The country already has tight regulations on PC-based games and console games, so the new regulation extends that stronghold farther.

As for the numerous games already released in the Chinese market, they too are subject to the new guidelines, and the agency intends to retroactively approve these games with a submission deadline set for October 2016. If a game has not applied for approval by October 1st , it will be shut down.

Poised to take effect on July 1, 2016, the new restrictions are applicable to all downloadable or Internet-connected games on smartphones and other devices. But they are not necessarily limited to the gaming segment alone.

 

6th July

  Consulting everyone but the viewers...

New Zealand film censors outline a consultation about sexual violence in entertainment media
Link Here

OFLC New Zealand logoNew Zealand's film censors are to consult with community about sexual violence in entertainment media

How are young people affected by depictions of sexual violence in entertainment media? What are the potential harms? What do young people think sexual violence is?

These and other questions are being asked in an extensive consultation process with young New Zealanders, carried out by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

This forms part of a wider research and consultation programme the Classification Office is conducting to assist them when classifying movies, television shows (on DVD and online) and video games. It will also serve to respond to the wider NZ public discourse regarding the harms and impacts of sexual violence on our community.

The first part of the qualitative research involved focus groups with teenagers, conducted by Colmar Brunton. A report on the findings from this initial survey is expected to be released in the coming months*.

In addition, the Classification Office is conducting individual interviews with young people of different ages and backgrounds from all over New Zealand. The interviews will take place throughout a 12-month period.

The Classification Office also plans to consult with social workers, teachers, and community organisations working with young people -- along with academics and other experts.

Project leader Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana says that the findings will inform the Classification Unit when making decisions on appropriate restrictions and warnings for particular depictions of sexual violence:

We're also wanting to find out the sorts of things in entertainment media that might mitigate these impacts and harms. Can certain depictions of sexual violence be positive or empowering for young people?

The impact on young people of sexual violence in entertainment media has not been well documented so we are very keen to share our findings with other groups and organisations working in the field of sexual violence awareness and prevention.

Chief Censor Andrew Jack explains that the Classification Office takes into account academic research for the purposes of classification, however it is just as important to understand the public's views about the potential harms of certain material and how that material should be classified.

In this way we can best serve the public good by providing guidance about, and protection from, harmful content -- as identified by New Zealanders. As with people in other countries, we have our own views about what might or might not be harmful, and our national classification system allows these views to be heard.

 

1st July

 Update: Career blockers...

China gets a new internet censor
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
cyberspace administration of china logoChina has replaced its internet censor, Lu Wei, the hard-liner responsible for an effectively oppressive censorship system.

Lu wielded expansive powers as head of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs since 2014, dictating what 700 million Chinese Internet users may view online and acting as gatekeeper for technology companies wishing to do business in China.

His successor will be his deputy, former propaganda official Xu Lin, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported. Lu will keep his concurrent position as deputy head of the party's propaganda department.

Observers believe that the general direction of Chinese technology policy will not change under the Xi administration.