As one of the most authoritarian major countries, China often does this, making it the Trope Namer. Censors target anything that might be read as subversive towards the current regime, negative portrayal of anyone who is Chinese, and references to the more unpleasant events in China's history, with a special emphasis on recent history. This gives the Chinese government influence in what foreigners, hungry for the money of the growing Chinese audience, put into their books, shows, and movies. Due to the thriving and largely unpoliced (and unpoliceable) pirating industry in China, it's not as if the ban has any effect.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Death Note was banned in China for allegedly inciting anarchy and insubordination after some kids and teens were caught using ripoff notebooks to make hitlists. That being said, it did receive a Cantonese dub.
Code Geass was once banned in China for its themes of rebellion and the dignity of oppressed minorities. In fact, the second season portrays China as a nation of starving citizens oppressed by a group of power hungry creeps using the twelve year-old heir to the throne as their puppet before a bunch of Japanese guys lead by a white guy incite a revolution and overthrow them, which doesn't help either. Un-banned since 2008.
Yaoi Genre manga, anime, and games have been suppressed, banned and regulated in mainland China and Hong Kong for fear that "[r]eading too much [yaoi] material will change [girls'] sexual orientation somehow"; see this academic paper.
Mostly uncensored until 2013, though a couple of Yaoi magazines such as BOLO and 801 Kano are still being published as special issues of other publications.
During Mao's regime the Tintin comic book albums "The Blue Lotus" and "Tintin In Tibet" were unavailable, while other Tintin stories were. After Mao's death the stories were eventually released, but the title of "Tintin in Tibet" was changed into "Tintin in Chinese Tibet", since China has occupied Tibet since the 1950s. Hergé and his lawyers sued and as a result the title was changed back to its original name.
China automatically "bans" (or, more accurately, puts a quota on) all non-Chinese movies, only giving special permits for a fixed number of foreign films to be shown per year. In theory, this protects their film industry from bigger-budget foreign competition. In practice, it has spawned a massive and well established market for pirated foreign movies.
Any form of discussion about the oppression of the Tibetans or the Tiananmen Square massacre (if it is in media or not) will get you arrested and scrutinized by the Chinese government. The government-approved history textbooks does mention them in the self-righteous sense.
Not only is Seven Years In Tibet banned, so are the two stars, Brad Pitt and David Thewlis. Director Jean-Jacques Arnaud was banned as well, but has since been invited to make a movie on the Inner Mongolian culture, The Wolf Totem.
The Harry Potter films have been released in China so apparently images of David Thewlis are allowed in the country even while the actual actor isn't.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End can only be shown in China if all the scenes with Sao Feng in them are edited/modified so that way he's not in the shot. Apparently, he is a "negative portrayal" of the Chinese (although honestly, it would not make that much of a difference on the film's plot).
Warner Bros. had refused to screen The Dark Knight in China for its portrayal of the Chinese criminal accountant Lau (who was played by Singaporean Chin Han) and implying that Hong Kong police are corrupt, for fear that it would offend the Chinese. However, it is apparently one of the most popular bootleg DVD titles in China.
Going with the number-title aversion theme, 2012 made huge bucks in China because in the end China basically saves the world. The Tibetan tidal wave posters probably helped too.
The second Tomb Raider film was banned for depicting China as having "secret societies".
Martin Scorsese was already banned from entering China after making Kundun, a biography of the Dalai Lama. And then The Departed was banned for having a scene with Chinese authorities buying advanced computer chip technology.
Mission: Impossible 3 gave the government some cause for concern, as it depicts the Chinese police as incompetent and shows poor living conditions in Chinese villages. There is also one scene where graffiti advertising a document forgery service (which is apparently a big business in China) can be glimpsed.
Interestingly, it is re-included in the Warner Home Video DVD9 release.
The Red Dawn (2012) remake was considered likely to face legal or financial problems in China due to its portrayal of a Chinese invasion of the US, leading to a change of the villians to North Korean.
A rough translation of a statement by authorities in 2011 suggested that they had banned movies about time travel; it turns out, this was merely a guideline: its based on the immense respect that Chinese culture has to its ancestors. The Chinese believe that a work of fiction that depicts the ancestors (or other historical figures) will be necessarily different from what actually happened, which is considered extremely disrespectful. The same statement also recommended that filmmakers don't make any more adaptations of the Four Great Classical Novels. Still...
This whole affair is allegedly the end result of a dual-suicide that involved one of the girls mentioning time-travel in her suicide note. However, this website contradicts this statement by pointing out the correct translation. This must be something of a relief.
Avatar was released in China, but its 2D version was pulled from cinemas very quickly afterwards despite the film being the most popular shown in China ever. It is likely a large part of this was its message, which could be seen as being potentially inspirational to oppressed people within China (and the film was eating into the profit margin of a state-sanctioned biopic on Confucius that was running concurrently). Oddly enough, China still allowed the 3D version to be shown even afterwards.
Surprisingly averted with The Hunger Games. Cue reviews from China lamenting the fall of the western civilization.
21 And Over wasn't banned in China but it was heavily altered. The original is a pretty straightforward college comedy about an Asian-American student and his antics during his 21st birthday. The movie also explicitly states that his family has lived in America for five generations. The Chinese version turns him into a Chinese exchange student in America and becomes a cautionary tale about "the perils of a hedonistic West and the importance of embracing one’s roots." They even shot extra scenes at a Chinese college for the second version.
For Iron Man 2, all mentions of "Russia" or the "Russian" language are removed. For example, Justin Hammer's line of "I don't speak Russian" is changed to "I don't speak your mother language." The comments section contains a few theories on what motivated this change.
The Mandarin is played byBen Kingsley in Iron Man 3 precisely for this reason, since the comic incarnation of the character is a classic Yellow Peril villain. The Chinese government also cooperated with Marvel to produce the film, and well known actors Fan Bingbing and Wang Xuquei were added to the cast in supporting roles.
The Chinese trailer plays up their importance, showing the two actors' characters alongside Rhodey and Pepper.
When Fan and Wang were cast, it prompted widespread speculation that they would be playing prominent Chinese Marvel characters such as Collective Man or Radioactive Man. They turned out to be Advertised Extras. Wang's character is the Chinese Dr. Wu who appears briefly during the New Year's Party and later gets the shrapnel out of Tony's heart. Fan plays an unnamed nurse with a single line who helps Wu (By "help", we mean telling Wu that "[Stark] is here"). Chinese audiences were not impressed.
Note: Comics about Collective Man and Radioactive Man are only accessible in China through bootleg translations.
David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, about a future world ruled by Chinese lords.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a book about the cultural revolution and how they unjustly persecuted the educated and burned books. Since this is one of the books studied in Hong Kong international schools, there have been at least a few cases of students finding their copies unexpectedly confiscated.
An aversion: contrary to what you might expect, 1984 is readily available.
Jung Chang's family history Wild Swans which recounts the sufferings endured by her family during the Cultural Revolution.
American journalist Michael Meyer's The Last Days of Old Beijing, about the three years he spent living in one of the hutongs of that city teaching English, was banned for five years, supposedly not for its depiction of the lives of poor residents struggling to save their historic neighborhoods from urban-renewal projects spearheaded by corrupt officials for their developer friends but for showing mainland China and Taiwan in different colors on a map in the frontispiece. Five years after publication in the U.S., the ban was lifted, and his Chinese publisher sent him on a book tour. However, by his count the Chinese edition still cut almost a page's worth of passages. "Better 400 pages of book than no book at all. In China, you take what you can get," he said.
The last episode of the historical series Towards The Republic was censored, as it ends with a speech by Sun Yat-sen about the merits of democracy.
Portions of the broadcast of Anderson Cooper 360 that aired from May 2, 2012 onwards on CNN International were blacked out in China when it discussed developments with political activist Chen Guangcheng, particularly when alleged threats made towards Chen and his family by the Chinese government were mentioned.
The littlest things rile up the censors, apparently. The newest Pet Shop Boys album Yes was almost banned over the final track "Legacy", due to this verse: "Time will pass/governments fall/Glaciers melt/Hurricanes bawl" (emphasis added). Both parties allowed its release on the condition that the song be left as an instrumental.
The Chinese government occasionally attempts to ban, water down or censor Chinese things. China-based Visual Kei/gothic rock band Silver Ash, for example, have over the years come up against several tricky bits of legislation. One of them briefly forced them out of rock altogether, causing them to go on a lengthy hiatus.
Rather confusingly, one of the most popular rock bands in China, Miserable Faith, is famous for its songs about freedom and suppression, but it’s not banned. In fact, they still attend most of the rock festivals in China and "spread freedom".
Miley Cyrus is banned in China because she pulled a slant-eyed face in a hacked smartphone photo, a gesture interpreted by China to be mocking Asians.
When The Rolling Stones played China as part of a world tour, they were specifically told by the government some of their songs were forbidden, such as Brown Sugar on the grounds it was about an interracial sexual hook-up.
Kraftwerk is apparently not allowed to perform in Beijing as they were supposed to be in a Free Tibet concert, but was canceled due to bad weather.
Painful Faith is a classic anarchist metal band, yet it is also one of the best known and well recieved band in China.
Back in the 1960s, China banned its own National Anthem for a time. This occurred when the guy who wrote it was declared an enemy of the state during the Cultural Revolution. During those years, it was unofficially replaced by "The East Is Red", which glorified Mao's Cult Of Personality.
Microsoft has a list of "banned words" that are discouraged in its speech recognition. "Tibet" is one of them due to strong Chinese sales.
The Chinese government has banned Windows 8 from internal use. Apparently, they think the Windows version they use must receive support indefinitely and not lose it after 10 years of availability like Windows XP.
China used to ban depictions of demons and human skeletons, so many Magic: The Gathering cards had their art altered for release there. In 2008, however, this ban was lifted.
Some were altered, but many were simply not released in China. None of the Chinese finalists during this period made it far in the Pro Tour finals because they simply didn't know how to play with the full collection of cards.
The opera Turandot was banned for many years for depicting Chinese (Read: unintelligible eastern) culture unfavorably. The ban was repealed in the late 1990s and the opera has been since been performed on a Chinese stage on at least one occasion. There is a particularly good DVD of it being performed in the Forbidden City with a large Chinese ensemble, suggesting that they have thoroughly gotten over the ban.
Downplayed with Michael Jackson The IMMORTAL World Tour, a Cirque du Soleil tour. At the first performance in China (Beijing, to be specific) in 2013, the audience was shocked to see the famous image of the Tiananmen Square "Tank Man" during the "They Don't Care About Us" video montage, even though the show was prescreened by the country's Ministry of Culture. The image was cut for subsequent performances in the country.
Consoles as a whole were banned in China since 2000 due to the fact that China had very little control over what was released on them. It wasn't until 2013 that they decided to lift it, but even then it was still severely restricted. Only at the start of 2014 were the rules made relaxed, with any game that China has regulated and found suitable - so no large amounts of violence, sexual nature, or, you guessed it, cases of rising up against an authoritative regime - being allowed to be produced, retailed and sold within the country.
They could afford it, as the iQue Player was a console Nintendo made so that the Chinese gocernment could have full control over their console market. Needless to say, it was the only home console that didn't suffer from this ban.
Importation ban formally lifted in 2014.
China banned the strategy game Hearts of Iron and its sequel for depicting China as a fragmented nation split into various warlord factions in the main campaign, which begins on New Year's Day 1936. Also, Tibet is depicted as an independent state. The Chinese censors did approve a Game Mod which features a unified China.
Command & Conquer: Generals — Zero Hour has also been banned, allegedly for smearing the image of China and its military, which is shown in the games as being somewhat sympathetic, if a little brutal, nuke-happy, Geneva-prohibited-incendiary-weapons-happy, propaganda-happy, and land-mines-happy, though not suicide-happy and anthrax-happy like the GLA. This may also have to do with the depiction of a GLA nuclear attack in Tiananmen Square in the beginning of the Chinese Campaign in the original game.
Interestingly, despite the above case, Red Alert 3 is banned in China yet rather popular there. This may have to do with the fact that China wasn’t big on either the Soviet Union during the Cold War or Japan in variousotherconflicts.
Both of them are intensively modded by Chinese players.
I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike has been banned for "defamation of a national character" — in other words, for having an evil Chinese general as a boss monster.
Some games in the Battlefield series (Battlefield 2 in particular) are banned in China due to having the People's Liberation Army depicted as a belligerent combatant in a fictional war with the US military and NATO.
Battlefield4 is rumoured to be officially banned, but the PLA does not support the report.
Although having said that, Battlefield 2 is one of the most popular FPS games outside of the juggernaut that is Counterstrike - it should be noted that the Chinese government bans things at the drop of a hat, but actually enforcing the ban is a different matter entirely.
Having the North Koreans as bad guys in the FPS Crysis seems like a transparent attempt to avoid being banned in China. Set in the year 2020, they have landed on an island in the South China sea, and possess gear more advanced than they would be likely to have, like a large guided missile cruiser and nanotech suits for their elite guard. Their presence in the region and their capabilities would seem much more plausible if they were Chinese. To add to that, if you look at early concept art and search through the game files, you will find that China was originally going to be the enemy human faction in game.
The game Homefront does basically the same thing: North Korea seemingly subjugates Japan and all of Southeast Asia before invading the US some Twenty Minutes into the Future. Word of God confirms that the villains were originally going to be Chinese, but they changed it when they were told that this could result in not only the game but the entire development team being banned from China. Amusingly, the game's now banned in both the Koreas.
A persistent Urban Legend says that Warcraft's famed "Pandaren" characters won't make an appearance in World of Warcraft because it's illegal to put pandas in danger in China. This may also be due to the Pandaren, in their original form, being China's national animal with an obviously Samurai (and therefore Japanese) style of dress and fighting - akin to a Chinese game showing all-Americans covered in Maple Leaves, eh? (In fact, there is currently nothing in China's legal system that mentions pandas in any way, other than the usual conservation measures for endangered species).
The Chinese version of the game has some character models changed (presumably to make the game acceptable to the Chinese government). Most notably, the playable race of zombies, the Forsaken, have their exposed elbow and knee bones covered by skin that doesn't match the rest of their body. Since the depiction of skeletons is banned in China, the Chinese version of the game replaces the skeletons that characters become after dying with tombstones. The second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, has yet to be released in China for this reason - it focuses mostly on the undead Scourge, so there are a ton of bones visible in one way or another.
And, as of early- to mid-November 2009, China has shut down World of Warcraftnationwide due to a long-standing dispute between two departments of China's government: the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the Ministry of Culture (which has been leading a year-long crackdown on online gaming) are embroiled in a power-struggle, which in part led the GAPP to reject the license request of WoW's Chinese distributor, NetEase, for "gross violations of Chinese law." Exactly what these 'violations' entail is unclear, but NetEase has asked for clarification, and insist that they are in full compliance with the GAPP's regulations.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a game placing the player in the role of a United States Marine as part of an operation to liberate a Russian oil-rich island from Chinese invaders. There is no attempt to disguise the enemy; they are blatantly the PLA, with weapons and equipment modeled as accurately as possible based on whatever information the developers could find. It is also, apparently, an aversion. The game is not banned in China. If this Google-translated article is to be believed, the game is appreciated for its accurate modeling of PLA gear and the opportunity to "play as the enemy."
Chinese censorship extends so far that all internet access from the country goes through a "Great Firewall" that blocks out "subversive" or "objectionable" sites. Of course, Chinese tend to know workarounds for this.
Blocked sites of note include Google's Blogspot, Flickr, Twitter, deviantARTnote unbanned as of June 2013, and Facebook. Western news sites such as BBC News, CNN, and the New York Times are also banned. Blip is also blocked, oddly enough. You can get Google HK (Hong Kong), though, if you use the hotel room's internet connection.
As far as video sharing sites are concerned, most US-based video sharing sites are blocked, including Youtube. Odd thing about Youtube, though; the video servers are always banned, but everything else is unbanned for certain college campuses.
The main reason for blocking Youtube and Facebook was not "subversion" but the fact that those sites were used to co-ordinate the Xinjiang riots/spread information about them afterwards.
We’re not blocked, though. Then again, neither is 4chan. Make of that what you will.
Interestingly, Fox News Channel and MSNBC are not banned in China (the former being far more critical of China than the latter), and Google HK's status is spotty. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This means for tropers in China, the Wiki search will be snail paced slow.
If you want to see for yourself which of the most popular English-language websites are currently blocked or restricted in China, WhatBlocked.com maintains a frequently-updated list.
In July 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology voluntarily encouraged computer manufacturers to include a censoring software called "Green Dam Youth Escort", either pre-installed or on CD, with every computer sold, to help "build a healthy and harmonious online environment that does not poison young people's minds." Of course, it was plagued by the Scunthorpe Problem in its poorly-written pornography filter (which was so sensitive that it even blocked pictures of Garfield and pigs, as they have large area of skin tones, and thus appear to be pornography), a password system that was so broken that it could be "cracked by elementary school students", and alleged plagiarism of blacklists and open source code from other software.
Wikipediaalternates between full ban and ban of topics such as Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Lifted after June 2013.
The Chinese-language Wikipedias are completely blocked (although some universities apparently allow their students to access them in exchange for payment of an extra fee).
Averted with two feature animations set in China: Mulan, which saw a limited release - with Jackie Chan as Li Shang! - even though a few thought it wouldn't occur because Disney financed Kundun, and Kung Fu Panda, which was praised and even made the Chinese wonder why they couldn't make a movie like this. note For starters, Confucian values would never have allowed a son to go against his father, like Po not wanting to run the noodle shop like his dad wants, no matter how obviously mismatched their goals are. Rebellion in general is obviously frowned upon, and so is disobedience; a short featuring the Beijing Olympics mascots was banned because one of them would've had to be naughty in order for the plot to work, and Olympic mascots can't be naughty.
And now, the third movie is being co-produced in China.
The Simpsons episode "Goo Goo Gai Pan", where the family visits China, is banned in the country because of its unfavorable reference to Mao Zedong (Homer sees his body displayed in a mausoleum and says "He's like a little angel who killed 50 million people.") and the scenes parodying the Tiennamen Square Massacre.
The episode also has a Chinese government official say "Well, Tibet used to be pretty independent", which is something no actual Chinese official would ever say. Actually, it's hard to imagine anything in the episode that the PRC wouldn't have a problem with.