China’s Cultural Revolution 2.0

January 7, 2012Emma5 Comments, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bejing’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has recently released new restrictions for television broadcasters to limit the number of entertainment programs during prime time to two programs per week and 90 minutes per day.

Talent shows, dating shows, and talk shows with emotional content are among the restricted programs that are “excessive entertainment” which leads the Chinese population to “low taste”. Popular programs such as “If You Are the One” and “China’s Got Talent” have stated there will be closer supervision of the comments and attire of the guests to avoid “violence and money worship.” Dating shows that tout a panel of skimpily dressed girls who judge candidates based on whether they have a house, a car and lots of money go against the socialist values. Ma Nuo, one female candidate who appeared on “If You Are the One,” China’s most popular dating show, once infamously said, “I’d rather weep in rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.”

“If You Are the One” in studio. Click on the pictures to read our story about the show.

In lieu of these programs, authorities recommend news and educational programs to include “innovative content to promote traditional virtues and socialist core values.” These programs are either red songs and documentaries that glorify Communists’ dedication to the country and the people, or TV dramas centering around the second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese civil war, which portray the Communists as brilliant and heroic. This ultimately fuels the older generation’s disdain towards the outside, but the younger generation has grown increasingly impervious to such propaganda largely due to the rise of technology that has offered an alternative view.


Posters of TV dramas shown on prime-time TV: The top tw0, Drawing Sword and Forever Designation, are based on the second Sino-Japanese War. The bottom two, The Informant and Lurk, center around Chinese Civil War.

Many young Chinese people disregard such regulations, as they can easily access any content on the Internet. Most young Chinese follow American, Japanese or Taiwanese entertainment and programming, often via illegal downloading or at unauthorized sites. The surge of tech-savvy Chinese people registered on Facebook by hurdling the Great Firewall is an indicator of increasing access and openness to the outside world. Sina Weibo, the equivalent of Chinese Twitter, has also been key in spreading uncensored, raw information as well as distrust towards the government among the young Chinese population. As one respondent stated, “The government is not filled with the smartest people, they makes decisions based on the whims of a handful of leaders. Westerners probably would not understand how they work, but no one pays attention to them any more anyway.” (Read: Web-streaming of U.S. TV shows in China)

Infographic: China’s social media and digital market (Click on the picture to read the complete story.)

With a growing gap between the closed-off, traditional government, and the open, forward thinking new generation, will socialist ideology fail to cross the technology bridge to the modern world and be left behind ?

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5 comments to “China’s Cultural Revolution 2.0”

  1. Rob | January 9, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    When you have a title like “Cultural Revolution 2.0″ and the content is just explaining a new minor policy, it makes you look like a panicky little milquetoast. Don’t overreact. Of course you want a catchy title, but anyone who knows any Chinese history at all knows that if there was anything like the CR today, it would mean chaos in the streets, millions of displaced persons, riots, borderline civil war, mass deaths and persecutions. This level of hyperbole makes you look like an idiot.

    • Emma | January 11, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      Hi Rob,
      Appreciate your comment and I would like a chance to explain the conception of the title.
      To me a revolution does not have to be accompanied by violence, especially in our modern world. There can be a revolution, repudiation of the government to cause a change in social structure, without “chaos in the streets, millions of displaced persons, riots, borderline civil war, mass deaths and persecutions.”

      The empowerment of the Chinese people through technology has shed light on corruption, poverty and the general resentment of the government. What I tried to express is the distrust of the people can finally voiced and spread through channels such as Sina Weibo to unite them. This is perhaps a harbinger of future changes in the Chinese government.

      The cultural part comes from the people’s fondness for Western ideologies which, again, was made possible through technology. This has caused the loss of the people’s faith in their government, and made their socialist propaganda alarmingly impotent. I had hoped the above policy would illustrate the government’s mentality and, I feel, their lack of comprehension of how their policies will not work in today’s China. Since technology was instrumental in the impending changes in China’s culture, I felt”2.0″was appropriate.

      My sincerest apologies for offending you or any others and thank you for your sharp and thoughtful critique.

      • Guy In China | January 11, 2012 | Permalink Reply

        “The empowerment of the Chinese people through technology has shed light on corruption, poverty and the general resentment of the government.”

        I agree. I don’t think a “revolution” has to look like it did 50 years ago. Just like war doesn’t have to either. Though The US in Afganistan and other parts of The Middle East has shows that real war, where people die with bullets and bombs, still happens, cyber and economic war is a much more passive method. Some say that China and The US are engaged in an economic war.

        Cultural changes sparked on the internet? Sure. Fighting the man via streaming TV? Why not. Twitter Revolution? It already happened in Egypt.

      • Blacksoth | January 12, 2012 | Permalink Reply

        Not much of a revolution in the end.

        Nothing has changed in China. If great change is measured by secretly and anonymously voicing dissent on the internet, then you’re only 1000 years away from any real freedom.

        I’m always amazed at just how much injustice chinese people can take.. and then they protest it by threatening to hurt themselves usually.

        The people hurting you don’t care if you hurt yourself. Wake up!

        @Guy In China (And comparisons to Egypt, etc. is a great example. The military still runs things – so what if they got rid of their puppet dictator. Quality of life of the average egyptian isn’t better.)

  2. garth | March 20, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Heh, I have a revolutionary idea. Why dont all you idiots in the world over 50 drop dead and take your crap mentality with you. Let the young people start fresh without all the bullshit. P.S. Im over 60.

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