Cells at Work! becomes first Japanese anime to hit Chinese airwaves in a decade
State-broadcaster CCTV has aired its first Japanese anime series in a decade, prompting speculation that it could be a small signal of improved relations between Japan and China.  Called Cells at Work!, the animation series takes place inside the human body and is being used in China to get people interested in human biology during the coronavirus pandemic. A post promoting the show by CCTV-6, the channel airing the program, read: “Whether you are an adult or a child, we hope you can know yourself better after watching Cells At Work! Be more aware and capable of protecting yourself during the [coronavirus] epidemic.” But the fact that the cartoon is foreign, and Japanese in particular, prom
Clubhouse China crackdown leaves users out in the cold
A new audio-only social media app that cracked China’s firewall and gave a glimpse of what a free speech China might look like, has been shut down by authorities and left millions of fans frustrated. On Monday, the invite-only, voice-chat Clubhouse app appeared to have been blocked in China, just days after Chinese language chat rooms where guests – including Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and Nathan Law, a Hong Kong activist in exile - spoke about politically-charged topics that had been banned on other platforms. When mainland Chinese users of the app tried to log on to the app, they received an error message that read: “SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made
Sun sets as Clubhouse blocked in China
Clubhouse, the US audio-chat app that had briefly provided a forum for mainland Chinese residents to speak openly about sensitive topics, became inaccessible in the country on Monday evening.  The app had proliferated quickly in China, and it garnered international attention for its online discussions of issues such as the Hong Kong protests, Xinjiang re-education camps and relations with Taiwan.  Users in China said they are unable to connect to the servers of Clubhouse and can only access the service through a virtual private network.  Users have also reported that they cannot receive verification codes via mainland China mobile phone numbers, which is currently the only way to onboard th
China LGBT groups squeezed as China tightens rules on internet publishing
New rules to crack down on online speech in China have sent a chill through China’s LGBT community, who worry that organizing efforts or discussions of their lived experience will violate the new regulations.  In late January, the Cyberspace Administration of China instituted strict restrictions on self-publishing for working journalists, notably criticizing their act of practicing “we-media,” a phrase that refers to bloggers who have built up a sizable following on social media platforms.  These new rules quickly expanded and touched almost everyone in China, and self-publishers will need to get an official license to publish about current affairs. But they were a particular cause for conce
New social media rules target cyberbullying, self-publishing
Cyberbullying, inciting emotion or spreading fake news are just some of the activities that will soon be banned on social media in a censorship crackdown by China’s top cyber watchdog. In a fresh fight against fake news and other online activities considered” harmful,” the Cyberspace Administration of China’s strict new censorship rules aim to regulate social media sites to “protect the security of content and maintain a healthy cyberspace.” The rules come into effect on February 22 and could force social media platforms to spend big bucks on policing content, say analysts. In China, the onus falls on platform operators to remove inappropriate content uploaded by users. The regulation chang
Uncle Roger tells critics to ‘unfollow’ him if they’re not happy
Nigel Ng’s dumpling drama shows no signs of going cold with the Malaysian-born ‘Uncle Roger’ star telling his online detractors that he made “zero dollars from Chinese social media” and “just wanted to make people laugh.” The British-based comedian made the comments after receiving major backlash from followers for taking down a video from his YouTube channel that featured another internet star, Mike Chen, from the Strictly Dumpling channel. Chen has been vocal in his repeated criticism of the Chinese government, a fact Ng claimed to be unaware of. Ng was then accused of bowing to pressure from China for removing the video, although no anti-China sentiments had been made in it. In a new vid
Uncle Roger accused of ‘sacrificing his morality’ over deleted video
Uncle Roger, who rose to fame by roasting a BBC rice-making video, deleted a video about dumplings because it featured an outspoken critic of China’s government.  Now, social media users have lashed out at the internet celebrity, whose real name is Nigel Ng, saying he “sacrificed his morality” to cater to his Chinese fans. The video, called “Uncle Roger Reviews Ugliest Dumpling Ever,” was in collaboration with YouTuber Mike Chen, who often criticizes Chinese government policies.  The video criticizes a dumpling recipe and does not contain any political commentary.  Just 24 hours after posting it on Monday, Ng had removed the clip and posted an apology to Weibo – China’s Twitter – saying the
Instagram crashes through China's Great Firewall to woo wealthy shoppers
Banned in China but popular among the country’s elite, American-owned social media site Instagram is a ‘gold mine’ for international brands to reach the country’s luxury shoppers, according to experts. Launched in 2010, Instagram is part of a long list of websites and apps banned by the Chinese government. Facebook, Google and Twitter were blocked, followed a few years later in 2014 by Instagram. In its place, Chinese-owned social media sites have sprung up, gaining millions of followers for a local audience. But experts believe that many international brands are missing out on the vast captive audience of some of the richest, most sophisticated customers in the country, as Instagram has ris
Decoding the censorship apparatus used by WeChat
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Information is increasingly created, shared and consumed on a handful of social media platforms, a trend that has placed greater scrutiny on the owners and executives behind these tech behemoths, at least in the United States. As they have become more powerful globally, social media giants are trying to walk the tightrope by avoiding perceptions of censorship while corralling the spread of misinformation. In China, however, content censorship is part of the game and is widely accepted as a cost of doing business. WeChat, an app used ubiquitously throughou
China Trends: Period drama cancelled, and a man drove over his ex-girlfriend
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. Period drama get canceled China delisted two of the most popular period dramas from streaming platforms on Monday, creating new concerns about media censorship in the country.  Story of Yanxi Palace and Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace were pulled from the streaming platform iQiyi and Tencent and the two companies did not provide any official reason or statement.  Both affected shows are set in the 18th century during the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1912). They tell tales of love and struggles between Emperor Qianlong and his