Ever since the Chinese government severely punished the National Basketball Association over a team official's tweet, Americans have awakened to the fact that Beijing is no longer just censoring its own people.
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has
introduced legislation meant to prevent companies from punishing employees who speak out against China or any other foreign government that seeks to use economic weapons to enforce political loyalty.
Called the Preventing Foreign Censorship in
America Act, the legislation is clearly aimed at Beijing, though it isn't limited to China. It would prohibit any companies operating in the United States from firing or retaliating against employees based on their China-related speech. That can include
topics such as Hong Kong, the Uighurs or any of the Chinese government's human rights violations.
DC Comics got itself in political hot water over a drawing that's been linked in mainland China to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.
The image in question, which DC removed from its social media accounts, was created by artist Rafael Grampa for
writer Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child , to be released on Dec. 11. The drawing shows a youthful superhero holding a Molotov cocktail. In the background are the words: The future is young.
Chinese social media users took offense at what they said was a clear reference to pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. This perceived support for the youth-led movement that has rocked the Chinese territory sparked a backlash against DC that the
company tried to quell by taking down the image without explanation or apology.
But the controversy was just getting started. The self-censorship only angered fans around the world, who questioned DC bowing to pressure and urged it to go in the
opposite direction. The disputed image's removal inspired people to circulate it widely, and to criticise the decision to withdraw it.
Back in February Kotaku UK reported on a game called Devotion disappearing from Steam , following the discovery of a piece of in-game art that mocked Chinese president Xi Jinping. We checked back in May, and the game had not reappeared .
Chinese Communist Party, world-famous for its sense of humour, has now decided that merely disappearing this game was not enough. Now it has revoked the business license of one of the game's publishers, Indievent.
Without a business license, you
cannot legally operate in China. So that's that for Indievent. worldwide. Devotion was developed by the Taiwanese studio Red Candle, but of course the Chinese market is essential for its economic viability.
And of course another point of this
extreme censorship is that it sends a message to game publishers worldwide. Now doubt most of them have an eye on the possibility of sales to China.
It seems that Devotion has been totally sunk by the Winnie the Pooh incident. Red Candle Gamessaid in a statement:
For the past four months, the art asset incident related to Devotion has caused immeasurable harm to Red Candle Games and our partner, (Chinese publisher Indievent),
While mediation is still in
progress, Red Candle's co-founders have reached a unanimous decision to not re-release 'Devotion' in the near term, including but not limited to obtaining profit from sales, revision, IP authorization, etc. to prevent unnecessary misconception.
The studio extended its apologies to all impacted teams and personnel, and is taking full responsibility for any and all losses.
Canadian animator Steve Angel recognizes the irony that his cartoon about censorship was, itself, censored.
Angel produced an animated sequence for the US CBS TV series The Good Fight , a legal drama that argue cases about the issues of the
The censored episode was based on a criticism of Chinese censorship, including Angel's animated sequence typically of around 90 seconds. The animation was censored and replaced with an 8s screen reading, CBS has censored this content.
In a statement, a CBS All Access spokesperson said after raising concerns about the animated short's subject matter, it had reached this creative solution with the show's producers.
Angel said he was disappointed adding:
There's the obvious irony of it, but at the same time, I think because it's pretty incendiary material, it wasn't a gigantic surprise.
Angel said he couldn't comment on the content of the segment, but The New
Yorker reports the animation alludes to several subjects that have been banned online in China, including Winnie-the-Pooh, as the character was used in memes as a way to poke fun at Chinese President Xi Jinping. The magazine reports the clip featured the
leader dressed as the cartoon bear, shaking his exposed bottom.
But according to the Hollywood Reporter , the segment began with a song that referenced China's decision to ban The Good Wife from internet video services in 2014 . It also
alluded to how American studios remove content from international releases to avoid upsetting Chinese censors.
Channel 4 broadcast the show in the UK and have stated that it will show the episode n the same censored form as was shown in the US.
Netherlands-based publishing house Brill recently ended its distribution agreement with a Chinese state-run publisher, after the latter was found to have censored out a paper submitted to one of its journals
In a statement published on its website on
April 25, Brill announced it would no longer partner with China's Higher Education Press to distribute four of its journals to customers outside China, effective in 2020.
The Dutch publishing house didn't provide an explanation for its decision.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns repeated attacks by the Chinese embassy against Swedish journalists and insists that diplomatic missions have no say in the editorial content of media in their host country.
Chinese ambassador to
Sweden, Gui Congyou, has embarked on a truth crusade against the country's media since taking office in August 2017. The ambassador seems to have trouble understanding that in Sweden, a country ranked second in the RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index,
journalists are not subject to censorship.
On the embassy's website, the ambassador recently posted a long, unsigned attack against SVT Nyheter, a major Swedish news outlet. The diplomat castigates the site for giving a platform to David Liao,
Representative to the Taipei Mission in Sweden, on February 27. Liao published an opinion piece calling support for Taiwanese democracy against Chinese threat. According to Gui Congyou, the article challenges the one China principle and amounts to
serious political provocation. Beijing is very aggressive in claiming sovereignty over the island of Taiwan, despite it having an independent government since 1949.
The attack on SVT Nyheter is indeed not an isolated incident. Since July of 2018,
the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm has attacked multiple Swedish news sources. The ambassador was particularly harsh towards Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson, author of a book on the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, who was kidnapped in Thailand in 2015 and is
still detained in China with no scheduled sentencing. Last December, he also attacked Swedish journalist and commentator Kurdo Baksi, accusing him of instigating hatred against China.
Berlin, I Love You is a 2019 Germany romance by Dianna Agron, Peter Chelsom... Starring Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Luke Wilson.
Latest installment of the Cities of Love series (Paris,
je t'aime / New York, I Love You / Rio, Eu Te Amo), this collective feature-film is made of ten stories of romance set in the German capital.
A contribution by the Chinese artist, film-maker and activist Ai Weiwei to a film called Berlin, I Love You
, was cut by the producers on concern it could create difficulties for them with the Chinese authorities.
The film is part of a series known as Cities of Love created by Emmanuel Benbihy. The Berlin movie features 11 directors and
stars Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren. Ai directed his contribution, which focussed on his relationship with his son while in detention in China in 2015. It was included in the marketing teaser but did not make it into the finished film.
was infuriating to find our involvement had been erased, Ai said in a statement on Deutsche Welle television. The reason we were given for the episode's removal was that my political status had made it difficult for the production team to secure further
Ai said another reason was that the organisers of the Berlin Film Festival told the producers of Berlin, I Love You that the artist's contribution would make it impossible to screen the film at this year's edition of the festival, which
ended on 17 February.
AI said the fact that the next film in the Cities of Love series centres on Shanghai also played a role in the producers' decision to scrap his contribution to Berlin, I Love You. He added:
has got worse. China has become much more powerful and globally plays a major role in politics and economics. At the same time, China starts promoting its soft power. The effect is clearly being felt in the entertainment industry, he adds.
Despite being blocked in China, Twitter and other overseas social media sites have long been used freely by Chinese activists and government critics to speak about otherwise censored topics...until now.
China is now extending its reach to
foreign sites outside of its borders. Chinese authorities have launched a stealth crackdown over the past year.
Chinese activists and other Twitter users say they have been pressured by police to delete sensitive tweets. In some cases, Chinese
authorities are getting access to delete accounts themselves.
Last Friday, Cao reported that the Twitter account of Wu Gan, a Chinese activist sentenced last December to eight years in prison for subversion, had been suddenly deleted -- erasing
more than 30,000 posts representing years of political critique and commentary. He was taken in by police over tweets critical of the Communist Party. After being held at a police station overnight, the user was made to hand over login information and
watch police delete the tweets.
China has complained to Sweden over a satirical news show on Swedish state television that advised Chinese tourists how to avoid culture clashes. China complained that the show insulted the Chinese people.
The satirical programme Svenska Nyheter
(Swedish News), was aired a week after police removed three Chinese citizens from a Stockholm hotel. Local media reported they had refused to leave the hotel despite the fact they were not booked to stay there.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the
Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement:
The [Svenska Nyheter] anchor's remarks are full of discrimination, prejudice and provocation against China and other ethnic groups, completely deviating from professional
media ethics. We strongly condemn this.
A stage drama about Tibet has been pulled by the Royal Court Theatre for fear offending China.
Abhishek Majumdar said his play Pah-la was shelved because of fears over an arts programme in Beijing. His play deals with life in contemporary Tibet
and draws on personal stories of Tibetans he worked with in India,
The London theatre, once known for its groundbreaking international productions, is facing questions after Abhishek Majumdar revealed a copy of the poster for the play Pah-la ,
bearing the imprints of the Arts Council and the Royal Court along with text suggesting that it was due to run for a month last autumn.
Majumdar claimed the play was withdrawn because of fears over the possible impact on an arts programme in
Beijing, where Chinese writers are working with the publicly funded theatre and British Council.
The play was in development for three years and rehearsals had been fixed, according to Majumdar, who claimed that the British Council had pressurised
the theatre to withdraw it because of sensitivities relating to the writing programme.
The Royal Court said it had had to postpone and then withdraw Pah-la for financial reasons last year, after it had been in development for three years, and that
it was now committed to producing the play in spring 2019 in the light of recent events. It added:
The Royal Court always seeks to protect and not to silence any voice. [...BUT...] In an international
context, this can sometimes be more complex across communities. The Royal Court is committed to protecting free speech, sometimes within difficult situations.
The leading book publisher in Australia, Allen & Unwin, has dropped a book about the influence of China's Communist Party in Australia's domestic affairs, due to censorship pressure from China, or maybe from the fear of Chinese action
against the publisher..
In a decision likened to the recent decision by Cambridge University Press to restrict access to sensitive China-related articles, the release of the forthcoming book, Clive Hamilton's Silent Invasion: How China is
Turning Australia into a Puppet State was shelved by the publisher over concerns about potential legal action by China.
The author and a prominent Australian academic, said the decision by Allen & Unwin demonstrated the extent of the
shadow cast by Beijing.
It is believed to be the first time that a publisher has suspended publication of a book in a Western market because of fears of potential pressure from Beijing.
We as Australians living in a free society should not
allow ourselves to be bullied into silence by an autocratic foreign power, Professor Hamilton told ABC News.
In a statement, Allen & Unwin said it decided to delay publication following extensive legal advice. Clive was unwilling to delay
publication and requested the return of his rights, as he is entitled to do, it said. We continue to wish him the best of luck with the book.
The New York Times reports on an Australian furore following the news that a book has effectively been banned by Chinese influence. The Times writes:
The decision this month to delay the book, Silent Invasion: How China Is
Turning Australia into a Puppet State , has set off a national uproar, highlighting the tensions between Australia's growing economic dependence on China and its fears of falling under the political control of the rising Asian superpower.
The decision by Allen & Unwin to stall publication of this book almost proves the point that there's an undue level of Chinese influence in Australia, said Prof. Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian
In the yet-unpublished book, the author, Clive Hamilton, a well-known intellectual and professor at Charles Sturt University in Australia, describes what he calls an orchestrated campaign by Beijing to
influence Australia and silence China's critics.
In one chapter the book asserts that senior Australian journalists were taken on junkets to China in order to shift their opinions so they would present China in a more positive
light. In another chapter, the book details links between Australian scientists and researchers at Chinese military universities, which he said had led to a transfer of scientific know-how to the People's Liberation Army.
The notion that the formerly mighty American publisher Reader's Digest would allow the Chinese Communist party to censor its novels would once have appeared so outrageous as to be unimaginable. In the globalised world, what was once unimaginable is
becoming commonplace, however. The Australian novelist LA (Louisa) Larkin has learned the hard way that old certainties no longer apply as the globalisation of trade leads to the globalisation of authoritarian power.
Larkin published Thirst in 2012.
She set her thriller in an Antarctic research station, where mercenaries besiege a team of scientists. China is not a major theme of a novel set in Antarctica. But Larkin needed a back story for her Wendy Woo character who was linked with the villains of
her drama. So she wrote that Chinese authorities arrested and tortures Woo's mother for being a member of the banned religious group Falun Gong.
Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of
condensed novels. Thirst would reach a worldwide audience in the English edition for the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.
But the publishers had outsourced its printing to China. The printing firm noticed
the heretical passages in Larkin's novel. All references to Falun Gong had to go, it said, as did all references to agents of the Chinese state engaging in torture. They demanded censorship, even though the book was not set for distribution in China.
Phil Patterson from Larkin's London agents, Marjacq Scripts, tried to explain the basics for a free society to Reader's Digest . To allow China to engage in extraterritorial censorship of an Australian novelist writing for an American publisher
would set a very dangerous precedent , he told its editors. Larkin told me she would have found it unconscionable to change her book to please a dictatorship. When she made the same point to Reader's Digest, it replied that if it insisted on
defending freedom of publication, it would have to move the printing from China to Hong Kong at a cost of US$30,000.
Reader's Digest decided last week to accept the ban and scrap the book.
Chinese embassy officials in France and Thailand appear bent on fostering fear and disgust with recent efforts to harass and intimidate France 24 reporter Cyril Payen.
Payen, who recently returned from Tibet after filming an undercover
documentary, Seven days in Tibet , has received a barrage of harassing phone calls, text messages, and thinly veiled threats from Chinese officials, apparently from embassies in Paris and Bangkok, according to a report by France 24 and the
Following the release of Payen's film on May 30, Chinese embassy officials showed up at the headquarters of France 24 in Paris, demanding that the documentary be removed from the channel's website, France 24 said. The channel
Executives at the Hollywood studio, Paramount have been worrying about a minor plot point in the $175 million zombie film, World War Z , which stars Brad Pitt.
In the 'offending scene', characters debate the geographic origin of an outbreak
that caused a zombie apocalypse and point to China, a Paramount executive told TheWrap.
The fast-rising prominence of the Chinese market, state censorship and the tight quotas for U.S. releases, the studio advised the movie producers to drop the
reference to China and cite a different country as a possible source of the pandemic, an executive with knowledge of the film told TheWrap.
The change was made in recent days in the hopes of landing a deal for one of Paramount's biggest summer
movies to play in China.
A Chinese consulate in the U.S. has contacted the Palm Beach International Film Festival to warn them about a harmful movie they will screen that documents the violent persecution of a Chinese spiritual practice by communist authorities.
The consulate in Houston repeatedly called an organizer of the film festival making
inquiries about the film, according to a spokesperson who did not want to be named, in a telephone interview with The Epoch Times: They called asking questions, telling us that they thought it would be potentially harmful to them,
The consular official was told that
We're in America, according to the individual, and that the film would be shown nevertheless.
Michael Perlman, the filmmaker, understood the calls from the consulate to be an attempt at censorship:
brazen attempt to silence free speech and expression of an American citizen in the United States by the Chinese government is dangerous and must be exposed so that these actions will not be repeated.
The documentary that aroused the
phone calls is titled Free China: The Courage to Believe , and was directed by artist and activist Michael Perlman. It will be screened publicly for the first time at the Palm Beach International Film Festival on April 14 and 16.
China documents the persecution of Falun Gong, a popular Chinese spiritual practice, through the stories of two adherents who have been incarcerated and tortured by Chinese authorities because of their beliefs.
French satellite operator Eutelsat has said it had no right to turn off a Syrian television station that is broadcasting audio messages by ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi, whose whereabouts are unknown, has defiantly spoken several
times on Syria-based Arrai TV since losing control of Tripoli on Aug. 23, calling on his supporters to continue their resistance to the new authorities.
Eutel, the world's third-largest satellite operator, said earlier it was in contact with local
distributor Noorsat to see whether Noorsat could stop transmitting Arrai and sister channel al-Oruba, which has also give Gaddafi a platform to speak.
We talked to Noorsat and Noorsat removed al-Oruba, Eutelsat spokeswoman Vanessa O'Connor
said. That was their decision and their action. Arrai is still broadcasting and as things stand at the moment we have taken it as far as we can. O'Connor added that Eutelsat did not judge or censor content and it was not up to it to make the
decision to stop transmissions.