Cultural control is hard to imagine in our 21st century. Compared to modern democratic countries, people in China are going under strange policies. The situation began earlier this month when China’s Broadcasting Regulatory Organization (NRT) issued guidelines for banning celebrities from appearing on TV and regulating fandom culture that does not comply with the national policy. The Chinese government is now controlling the expulsion of disputatious Chinese celebrities, a ban on announcing celebrity popularity charts, a ban on paid voting on entertainment programs, a ban on duplicate purchases on albums, a ban on fan clubs, and even minors spending money on celebrities. Male celebrities are suppressed to wear makeup, and feminine male characters are also prohibited in media.
The expulsion of controversial celebrities is a standard measure, but what appears after that is hard to imagine in a free country. With such explicit measures, any measures can be taken according to the taste of the authorities, which adds to the disorder. For example, BTS Jimin’s fan club was suspended for 60 days for raising too many funds for the k-pop star’s birthday event. In the rapidly changing internet world, a 60-day suspension is a huge blow. Additionally, dozens of K-pop fan clubs have been suspended ‘to purify’ the online entertainment industry.
Experts suspect the reason behind the strengthened internal crackdown is related to Xi Jinping’s long-term power strategy. President Xi, who has been in power for nine years, will end his second term by next year. However, President Xi openly expressed his intention to extend his power and has not even pointed out the next successor. Such restrictions are judged to be a ‘joint wealth’ strategy to solidify President Xi’s power due to the gap between the rich and the poor has widened with the rapid growth of China’s economy. The London School of Economics stated that China earned 41% of national income from 10% of the population in 2015. A great sense of incompatibility caused by the excessive luxury of stars is also targeted. The restriction also blocks young people from liberalism through pop culture and maintains ideological control.
It is observed that the current cultural control drive will continue until Xi Jinping completes his third consecutive term as president and lays the foundation for power. It is just an observation; however, what the Chinese authorities will do in the future is still unknown. The current situation in China is that anachronistic control measures are overexpressed amid such unpredictability.