China clamps down on cartoons in latest morality move

China’s broadcasting regulator said it will encourage online producers to create “healthy” cartoons and clamp down on violent, vulgar or pornographic content, as Beijing steps up efforts to bring its thriving entertainment industry to heel.

The National Radio and Television Administration said in a notice posted late on Friday that children and young people were the main audience for cartoons, and qualified agencies need to broadcast content that “upholds truth, goodness and beauty”.

China’s ruling Communist party has stepped up a campaign to clean up its entertainment industry in recent months, taking action against “online idols” and promising tougher penalties for celebrities who engage in illegal or unethical behaviour.

The campaigns have been part of a wider effort to intervene in all aspects of the country’s culture and economy, with the government also promising to tackle inequality, soaring property prices and profit-seeking education institutions.

Several weeks ago, the authorities banned some reality shows, restricted social media fan culture, and ordered broadcasters to resist “abnormal aesthetics” such as “sissy” men. They have also targeted what they deem to be “vulgar influencers”, stars’ inflated pay and performers with “lapsed morals”.

The regulator appears also to be concerned about the broader societal culture shaped by young Chinese people’s consumption of celebrity news and entertainment shows, and its potential to run against the current value promoted in China.

The Communist party celebrated its centenary in July, and president Xi Jinping marked the occasion by promising to “enhance” the party’s powers and strengthen the unity of the Chinese people.

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