Setting Morals

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China approved new rules this week that would ban celebrities from endorsing a range of products and prohibit those with “lapsed morals” from promoting anything, as authorities seek to align society with “core socialist values,” the Guardian reported Wednesday.

The restrictions prohibit Chinese celebrities from publicly promoting or advertising health, education or financial commodities or even everyday products such as baby formula.

They also ban companies from employing celebrities found to have engaged in illegal behavior such as public drunkenness, drug abuse or tax evasion. Firms are also forbidden from using images of Communist party leaders, revolutionary leaders and other “heroes” in their advertising.

The new rules are part of the government’s efforts to ensure Chinese society is “guided by (President) Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era” – referring to the broad ideology that underpins the Xi-led Chinese Communist Party’s power.

The president of China’s advertising association, Zhang Guohua, said the regulations would contribute to a “more standardized and healthy improvement” of the industry.

In recent years, China’s government has tightened its control over the country’s entertainment industry and celebrity fandom in an attempt to remake the country’s pop culture landscape.

Last year, authorities banned some reality TV talent shows and instructed broadcasters not to promote so-called “sissy” men.

Meanwhile, the country’s large entertainment industry has also come under government scrutiny over a series of celebrity scandals that have crossed the line of extreme political sensitivity inside China.

In 2021, the actor Zheng Shuang was fined approximately $46 million for tax evasion and barred from appearing on entertainment programs.

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