With the trade war against the U.S. still going strong, China is introducing new policies that seek to control foreign content in school textbooks and media. The move is a clear signal that Beijing would rather keep its public ignorant of global realities if it means that the Communist Party can continue in power.
President Xi Jinping is reportedly overseeing the latest drive to identify foreign content in school textbooks and remove it so as to prevent children from being influenced by Western ideas, which is funny considering that Communism itself is a Western ideology. Beijing wants to indoctrinate children with as much patriotic content as it can right from early childhood.
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“Recently, it has been discovered that some companies that write and publish textbooks have without permission altered the content of certain textbooks, and certain schools are using their own textbooks in the place of national textbooks,” according to the education ministry’s teaching materials bureau (Reuters).
Due to globalization, a growing section of the Chinese middle class has been showing a deep interest in getting their children educated the Western way. This is said to have raised an alarm within the Communist Party, triggering the current crackdown against foreign textbook content.
All publishers have been instructed to strictly comply with the 2011 textbook standards passed by the government. And starting next spring, the education ministry will periodically carry out inspections on school texts. If any “unwanted” foreign content is found, then the publishers will be punished under the law.
Streaming regulations for foreign content
Beijing is also tightening regulations on foreign media content. In September, the regime passed laws that mandate radio and TV stations to limit foreign content and the presence of foreign actors. Called the “Restrict Foreigners Order,” the new policy requires broadcasters to gain approval from the National Radio and Television Administration before it publishes any foreign video or audio program.
“The number of foreigners on the creative staff of a TV series or program cannot exceed one-fifth of the total creative staff. All foreign creative staff members have to register with the central authorities within five days after signing an employment contract. The creative staff includes the director, producer, screenwriter, main actors, guest host, and other key members involved in the creative process,” according to The Epoch Times. Interestingly, people from Hong Kong and Taiwan are to be treated as foreigners.
Importing programs related to current affairs and news is strictly prohibited. TV channels are to abstain from broadcasting foreign programs during the prime time slot of 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Foreign programs can also not occupy more than 30 percent of the total broadcasting time of the same type of program on any day. Radio and TV stations found violating these rules will be made to pay a fine of 30,000 Yuan (US$4,400).
Streaming platforms are also being severely controlled. “The NATR [National Administration of TV and Radio] will be required to publish and maintain a catalog of overseas programs approved for streaming in China. Streaming of overseas programs not listed in the catalog will be prohibited. This would be an entirely new development,” according to China Law Blog.
Streaming platforms will also have to restrict overseas programs to 30 percent of their programming in any single category. This will be applicable over and above the 30 percent limit on foreign programs that has been observed in the industry since 2014.