No to 'seductive' eating of bananas in video clips

BEIJING • Sorry, no bananas. No sexy stockings either.

China may have singled out e-commerce as an important growth economic driver, but the government has remained firm on weeding out any seedy elements.

Its latest target are Internet anchors, who host live-streaming channels that are particularly popular with young Chinese men. Local media reports say there are more than 100 such channels, with three- quarters of their audience male.

Internet anchors, usually female, chat, sing and interact with viewers in exchange for gifts.

But these channels sometimes veer into soft-porn territory, resulting in the government last week reportedly banning "seductive" eating of bananas or wearing of suspenders on such channels.

Top Chinese video blogger Papi Jiang, who posts clips of her comedic monologues online, was similarly told last month to tone down foul language, which had provided the zing to her acerbic humour.

China's top media watchdog ordered her videos to be taken offline until she amends her language, resulting in some of her clips disappearing from popular video-streaming websites.

Separately, the authorities recently mandated the shutdown of cloud storage services of several Chinese tech giants, alleging that they have been used widely to store pornography and pirated materials.

Huawei this month announced it would close its online storage service DBank to cooperate with the "clean-up of pornography and piracy that are spreading on the cloud services". Fellow tech companies Alibaba and Sina had already announced a halt to their services.

The government is seen to have clamped down on the freedom of expression online under President Xi Jinping, who last month called for better management of China's cyberspace.

Some commentators have said the authorities should not just punish the service providers without going after those who keep such businesses going.

"This isn't a one-sided show," said a commentary in Changjiang Daily, referring to live-stream programmes. "Shouldn't viewers who egg on Internet anchors to commit vulgar acts be punished as well?"

Teo Cheng Wee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'No to 'seductive' eating of bananas in video clips'. Print Edition | Subscribe