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China’s censors have claimed another victim: gay high school web drama series Heroin (or Addiction上瘾) has been taken off the air just three episodes before its season finale.
The series can still be found on Youtube, which is banned in China.
Before the government suppressed it, Heroin was a massive hit, attracting 10 million views the day after its début, the Wall Street Journal says. Global Times reported that Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) discussions on Heroin’s cancellation drew 110 million hits, and that the show was the second most-viewed series on iQiyi, a hugely popular online video site.
This isn’t the first time China pulled an LGBT drama off the web. A month ago, censors took down Go Princess Go (太子妃升职记), a series about a modern man who goes back in time to ancient China, becomes a woman and marries the emperor.
The Chinese government has seriously ramped up its attempts to control the media since President Xi Jinping came into office. Recently, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) unveiled a draconian new set of broadcast regulations forbidding TV and web-based shows from depicting homosexuality, vengeance, alcoholism, criminal investigations, reincarnation and many other topics that make the state uncomfortable.
This is just part of the Chinese government’s increased crackdown on social progress. Last year, the Chinese government jailed hundreds of human rights lawyers and celebrated International Women’s Day by arresting five feminists for planning a protest against sexual harassment on public transportation. The government has also strengthened the Great Firewall of China (a system of domestic internet censorship) and even unveiled the Great Cannon, a way to silence foreign websites with massive DDoS attacks.
Why the big crackdown? Part of it might be backlash to social progress. China has become much more open over the past few decades regarding sex and gender roles.
Part of it might be fear of losing control over the country in the near future. China’s economic growth has slowed and its stock market has been collapsing for months. It’s heading toward a major economic crisis.
For years, China’s citizens and the Chinese Communist Party have maintained a sort of bargain; in exchange for enduring the oppressive CCP, the people would experience growth and prosperity. And the country has grown and prospered. In the span of just a few generations, China has gone from an undeveloped nation with regular famines to an economic superpower with more billionaires than the USA. But if the money runs out, no one will have a reason to support the CCP.
But President Xi’s crackdown on social freedom could backfire. The recent increase in censorship has drawn criticism from prominent journalists, academics, lawyers and even a few Communist Party advisers.