How the Celebrity Blacklist Works in China – It’s a Career Death Sentence

  • Celebrities in China need to be constantly aware of the consequences of their actions.
  • The blacklist exists to make sure that Chinese citizens are getting the information that the government deems appropriate.
  • This list is like a bomb for stars’ management companies.

The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) is in charge of controlling everything related to the press, publications, radios, movies, and televisions in China. For example, all foreign movies that want to enter the Chinese market would need its approval first, during which scenes containing sex, violence, and Chinese politics are usually deleted– the reason why many foreign movies in China are a bit shorter than the international version. It exists to make sure that Chinese citizens are getting the information that the government deems appropriate.

Jaycee Chan Joming, better known as Jaycee Chan, is an American-born Hong Kong actor and singer. He is the son of the Hong Kong martial artist and actor, Jackie Chan and his Taiwanese wife, Joan Lin. He is currently on a hiatus from the entertainment industry after being arrested and jailed for providing his apartment in Beijing for acquaintances to smoke marijuana.

In 2014, NRTA announced a national ban on tainted stars, public figures that have harmed the image of the entertainment industry. Once on the list of tainted stars, no matter how big the star was, it basically means the end of their career in the mainland. There are many reasons to make it to the list: taking drugs, prostitution, inappropriate words or actions, wrong political stands, etc.

However, this list is not public. If a certain celebrity has done something that becomes a headline, for example being arrested for taking drugs, it is then a clear sign that he’s on the list. Otherwise it is not always easy to deduce which celebrity has been banned and for what reason. That’s why among the tainted stars, the most reported and discussed are drugs related.

In 2016, Lady Gaga joined with the Dalai Lama to talk about the power of kindness and how to make the world a more compassionate place. The Chinese government added her to a list of hostile foreign forces, and Chinese websites and media organizations were ordered to stop uploading or distributing her songs.

In just 2014 alone, at least eight celebrities were banned after being arrested for taking marijuana or crystal, including the son of Jackie Chan, Jaycee Chan. Last year, PG One (rapper) and MC Tianyou (streamer) were banned because the lyrics in their songs included drugs, considered a bad influence for the younger generation.

Apart from banning stars with illegal records, the list is also a political instrument. Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Lady Gaga, and Oasis are just a few of the international stars on the list due to their supports for the Dalái Lama and the freedom of Tibet. Justin Bieber, having visited the Sanctuary Yasukuni while in Japan, also can’t have concerts in China.

Denise Ho Wan Si (Yunshi He) is a Hong Kong singer. She is on the Chinese blacklist for supporting Hong Kong independence.

By the end of 2016, due to the deployment of THAAD (anAmerican defense system) in South Korea, NRTA started a general ban on South Korean stars. A massive amount of shows were taken down from streaming websites, and numerous planned concerts were canceled without any space for arguing, which greatly hit the entertainment industry in South Korea. As for local stars, it´s usually about Taiwan and Hong Kong, like Wenze Du mentioned in my former post.

This list is like a bomb for stars’ management companies. Their investment can become meaningless from one second to the next. In 2016, Yunshi He, on the list for supporting the independence of Hong Kong in multiple occasions, posted on Facebook that she was about to attend an event hosted by Lancôme in Hong Kong. Mainland internet users started to boycott Lancôme and its mother company L’Oréal, which finally led to a cancellation of the event and a great image damage to the company.

Comedian Zhang Yunlei is on the Chinese blacklist for a joke about deadly Chinese earthquakes– THAT didn’t go over very well.

For shows that are already made but not released yet, the companies usually reshoot whole scenes with other actors, or manage to not show the faces of tainted stars.

On the 11th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake this year, a video of Yunlei Zhang, a promising and rising comedian, was posted online. The video from late 2018 showed Yunlei joking about Tangshan, Wenchuan, and Yushu earthquakes. Yunlei apologized right away on Weibo, but nothing could prevent him from being banned since it’s always too soon to joke about something like that in China. In the latest episode of a popular celebrity show “Go Fighting!” on June 23, the audience suddenly saw a virtual cartoon character that was never on the show before and such a character was not really necessary for the content. Later it was revealed that Yunlei was in that episode. His scenes were deleted wherever possible, or he was digitally transformed into a cartoon character in important scenes just to hide his face.

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Just another attempt to show a more real China.

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