Banning some artists from market entry is an act of Rule Setting by Beijing

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The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is heading to Shanghai (photo from Entertainment Tonight)

Some critics may say that Beijing is over-reacting but, like it or not, China has been ready to tell the world that it has a resolve to set rules for its markets.

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will be held in China for the first time on Nov 28, 2017. But right now the headlines one after one are about someone cannot make it to show up there.

Singer Katy Perry was banned from China for her ‘yellowface’ performance at the American Music Awards in 2013 and waving a Taiwanese flag during a show in Taipei in 2015.

Gigi Hadid was also denied a visa, along with four other models, after being widely criticized by many Chinese netizens for a ‘racist’ act of squinting eyes.

No, China has no discrimination against women and white people. Koreans are also in trouble. One recent example is that Korean actor Ha Jung-woo was banned from filming with Chinese actress ZhangZiyi in “Mask”. He did not do anything ‘wrong’. He is just one of the victims of the tension between China and South Korea after Seoul installed the American missile system THAAD. The Korean drama ‘Hwarang’, musicals ‘Turandot’ and ‘Laundry’ were all suspended.

Obviously, Beijing is trying to set new rules for its market. Since it is about entertainment directly or indirectly this time, it gets high profile attention. Here, we have at least two points to note. Firstly, China’s rule setting rationale will be more systematic and transparent after some more incidents in future, so that all others can decide whether they choose to stay in or abandon the Chinese market.

Secondly, China’s rule setting effort will go, hand in hand, with its drive to gain more positive or at least non-negative foreign media attention or coverage. In this fashion show case, for example, the news reports overseas have been quite neutral. Another example is foreign minister Wang Yi’s three-point proposal for resolving the Rohingya crisis during his visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar. As China is willing to offer large scale financial help, very few Western media criticized China’s silence on the ‘human right’ aspect of this issue or forged a conspiracy theory.

China’s rule setting attempt will cover all areas, definitely not limited to the entertainment market. We can expect more wars of words on all fronts in due process. These fights may sound confrontational but I do not foresee any real combat, even though China is to be contained by the Indo-Pacific encirclement. As the English language media channels from Russia (RTSputniknewsValdai), Germany (DW), France (France 24), Iran (Iran Daily), Middle East (Gulf State Analytics) and African countries (AllAfrica) have been gaining more global attention, China can be in a better position to fight this multi-polar war of words in this 21st century, provided the rationale and justification of its acts are sensible.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail

Tony Simon

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