New ‘Self-Discipline’ Rules Could Blacklist China’s Celebrities

Expert says an official regulation aimed at holding celebrities to a higher moral standard than laypeople could disproportionately target women.

Chinese celebrities could face permanent bans from television, film, livestreaming, and offline events if they fail to comply with a new “self-discipline” guideline that formalizes unspoken but long-standing blacklisting rules for the domestic entertainment industry.

In the guideline published Friday, the China Association of Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, unveiled 15 rules of conduct celebrities will be expected to comply with from March. The rules include illegal acts such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as more vaguer, more subjective warnings against “undermining national unity,” “jeopardizing social morality,” and “harming outstanding cultural traditions.”

Stars of film, screen, and stage who are deemed to have violated the rules will face a “joint industry boycott” for at least one year. To resume their careers in entertainment, violators will have to apply for approval from the association, which will then supervise them as they take part in compulsory professional education and community service to rehabilitate their image.

Following the new regulation, party-affiliated newspaper People’s Daily hosted discussions on microblogging platform Weibo to explain that the code of conduct was intended to teach entertainers that “virtue comes before art.” By Monday morning, a related hashtag on the platform had been viewed more than 60 million times, with many commenting in support of the now-official emphasis on celebrities’ moral quality.

“As public figures and role models, stars play important roles in our society, especially to the young generation,” read one typical post. “Personally, I don’t like having to watch them all day. It’s impossible to avoid the negativity. Our society needs positive energy.”

Being blacklisted — or even digitally erased from productions in progress — is a familiar fate for China’s “tainted stars,” a phrase the country’s media have used to refer to scandal-prone celebrities. Last month, Italian fashion house Prada cut ties with Zheng Shuang, a popular actor, following rumors that she had two children via surrogacy, a practice that’s banned and heavily taboo in China. A provincial-level court in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing later expressed regret for having named Zheng its charity ambassador. Continue to read the full article here


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone