China

Beijing blocks Taiwan Film

Cape No. 7, Taiwans most successful film in years, has earned more than $6.9 million since its release on Aug. 22 and become the islands second top-grossing film after Titanic. The film is about a a failed Taiwanese rock musician who returns to his small coastal hometown and is forced to play in a hastily assembled amateur band that will open for a Japanese pop star. He falls in love with the Japanese publicist overseeing the show.

It was due to be released in China by the end of December, but local media are reporting that these plans have been axed, or delayed, by the Government Information Office (GIO).

Copies of the film should have been sent to the Chinese distributor by November 20th, but on November 19th, the Taiwanese distributor received an e-mail requesting a delay because discussions still had to be held with customs and with the local distributor.

The film appears to have caused some discomfort among Chinese officials over its portrayal of relations between Taiwan and Japan and some have claimed to be worried about a “nationalistic backlash” in the mainland.

According to The Associated Press:

Chen Yunlin, a senior Chinese official in charge of relations with Taiwan, said the movie was tainted by its portrayal of Taiwanese who had been subject to colonial brainwashing, Taiwans United Daily News reported on its Web site Monday.

Reached by phone Monday, Yuan Wenqiang, general manager of China Film Groups import-export arm, said company officials were discussing the movie with government film censors.

The process is ongoing, he said.

Cheng Wen-tsang of Taiwans Democratic Progressive Party said that censorship would make it difficult for Chinese to learn about Taiwan’s democracy and pluralistic society. Although Chen Yunlin had a smile on his face during his visit to Taipei, his reaction to the movie showed his real face, Cheng said.

Tiananmen taboo still in force

A tabloid newspaper in China has been withdrawn from news stands after publishing a photo from the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.

The photo - of two wounded young men being taken away on a rickshaw - was carried in Thursdays Beijing News.

The picture was simply captioned The Wounded, and no mention of the protests was made in the text.

But observers suggest newspaper staff could face further punishment for broaching what remains a taboo subject.

Up to 3000 people are thought to have been killed when Chinas ruling Communist Party sent in soldiers to pit down student pro-democracy protests in June 1989. Not surprisingly, they still dont like being reminded of this.

The photograph was printed alongside an interview with the Hong Kong-born American photographer Liu Xiangcheng as an example of his work and it seems likely that the use of this particular picture was a mistake by staff who didnt realise its. Significance.

As soon as Chinese officials noticed, they ordered the removal of the paper from the news-stands and part of its website was blocked.

Last year the authorities sacked three editors on a provincial newspaper for printing an advert praising the mothers of the Tiananmen victims for their campaign for justice.

Bjorked

So afraid of singers are the Chinese authorities that they have announced that foreign entertainers that threaten national sovereignty will be banned from the country. This announcement follows a concert in Shanghai in March at which Bjork nearly brought the country to its knees by shouting Tibet, Tibet.

According to a statement from the Chinese ministry of culture: Any artistic group or individual who have ever engaged in activities which threaten our national sovereignty will not be allowed in.

The latest announcement follows the banning of pop festivals and the tightening of rules on outdoor events in the months leading up to the Olympics as the government fears embarrassing protests from crowds.

The ministry has said that even encores must be approved in advance.

Taiwanese pop star Chang Hui-Mei was banned from playing in China for a year after she sang Taiwans national anthem during an inauguration ceremony for the islands president in 2000

China partially unblocks English Wikipedia

Reuters (via) is reporting that the Chinese authorities appear to have lifted their block on the English language version of Wikipedia. Politically sensitive topics such as Tibet and Tiananmen Square are, however, still off limits.

Internet users in Beijing and Shanghai confirmed on Saturday that they could access the English-language version of one of the worlds most popular websites, but the Chinese language version was still restricted.

The move comes after International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspectors told Beijing organisers that the Internet must be open for the duration of the 2008 Olympics and that blocking it would reflect very poorly on the host country.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the walls go up once the Olympics are over.

BBC unblocked in China

BBC staff working in China are reporting that – after years of being blocked - they are able to access stories on the BBC news website.

Although Beijing has never admitted to blocking access to BBC news stories it has been the case for nearly a decade that the only way for people in China to reach the site was by using a proxy server based outside of the country.

There has been no official confirmation that the website has been unblocked but statistics show that traffic to the website from China has been much higher than usual.

The Chinese authorities had promised to give foreign journalists more freedom in the run-up to this summers Olympic Games.

But analysts say that recent outbreaks of unrest in Tibet have made this promise more difficult for Beijing to uphold.

The BBC and other media organisations still find reporting from Tibet very difficult - foreign journalists were refused permission to enter the region during the recent protests.

So, is this a genuine loosening of web censorship in China or just a temporary PR move in the run up to the Olympics?

Update

China Forums (via) suggest the site is now available across most of the country. Other sites including the Guardian are also now available, but Wikipedia and YouTube are still blocked.

The great video shutdown of China

Following the recent unrest in Tibet, Chinese authorities have banned (via) 25 websites, from providing audio and video services and issued warnings to a further 32.

They were punished for broadcasting obscene, fear-inspiring or violent content or programs that might endanger national security and interests, or for offering such services without the required qualifications or certificates, the circular said.

The cases of five others, which had no qualifications to provide audio and video services on-line but still did so, were transferred to telecommunications authorities.

Lust, Caution star banned in China

Lust, Caution star Tang Wei has been banned (via) in the Chinese media because of the sexual nature of her performance in the Ang Lee Film.

An internal memo from Chinas State Administration of Radio Film and Television was allegedly sent to all television stations and print media in China on Thursday night, stating that a new television commercial starring Tang for skin care brand Ponds was to cease broadcast immediately. All print ads and feature content using the actress also were to be pulled. The memo gave no reason for the ban.

n a statement dated March 7, titled Reassertion of Censorship Guidelines, SARFT said that on Monday it informed all major film and broadcast entities and governing bodies that it was renewing prohibitions on lewd and pornographic content and content that show promiscuous acts, rape, prostitution, sexual intercourse, sexual perversity, masturbation and male/female sexual organs and other private parts. However, the public notice, posted on SARFTs Web site, did not specifically mention Lust or Tang.

In addition, all awards shows in China were advised to exclude Tang and the producers of Lust, Caution from their list of guests, while discussions about the film and Tang on online forums were deleted, Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily reported.

The ban comes during the annual meeting of Chinas highest legislative body, the National Peoples Congress, in Beijing. SARFT reportedly was singled out in the censure at the congress for permitting the film to be released in China last year after cuts totalling 30 minutes.

China bans horror films

As part of an intensified crackdown ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Chinese censors have banned horror films (via).

Producers have been given three weeks to go through their archives and report any content including wronged spirits and violent ghosts, monsters, demons, and other inhuman portrayals, strange and supernatural storytelling for the sole purpose of seeking terror and horror.

The new regulations – which follow a recent clampdown on vulgar video and audio content – suggest that China is keen to step up its control of the cultural arena ahead of the games in August.

China blocks Shanghai

Apparently paranoid about their image being tarnished by foreign films, Chinese authorities have blocked (via) the shooting of Mikael Håfströms Shanghai. Sources close to the film say that seven other co-productions may have been blocked, but that has not been confirmed.

We wouldnt have spent millions of kronor (hundreds of thousands of dollars) in this country over the past six months if we hadnt been completely sure we would receive a permit, Hafstrom said. This obviously comes as a shock to all of us. We dont know exactly why we have been turned down.

While The Weinstein Company is hoping for a reversal of the decision, Håfström has said that shooting is now headed for Hong Kong. The film is likely to use the new Shaw Studios for studio work and locations in Hong Kong and Macau for other exteriors.

Chinese Professor Sues Google, Yahoo Over Search Exclusion

Much has been said about the fact that Google and Yahoo! censor their Chinese search results. The companies argue that they are acting in accordance with Chinese law and the conditions of doing business in China. Others criticise them for willing to collaborate with state censorship in pursuit of market share.

Now Guo Quan, an expert on classical Chinese literature and the 1937 Nanjing massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops, is planning to sue (via) Google after he discovered that his name had been excised in searches of its google.cn portal in China.

Mr Guo did not mince words in his open letter. “To make money, Google has become a servile Pekinese dog wagging its tail at the heels of the Chinese communists,” he wrote.

Mr Guo is unable to sue Google or Yahoo! in China since they have no formal legal identity, but is planning to press his lawsuits against the parent companies in the United States.

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