China says actors must follow moral guidelines or face bans

Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was dropped as an ambassador by Prada after she was engulfed in a surrogacy controversy.
Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was dropped as an ambassador by Prada after she was engulfed in a surrogacy controversy.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China published on Friday (Feb 5) a new list of moral guidelines for actors and other performers, saying they could face a permanent ban from their profession if they fail to comply.

Performers should not "violate ethics, morals, social public order or good customs, causing serious negative social impact", the Chinese Association for Performing Arts, a non-profit organisation backed by the government, said on its website.

Performers should not incite hatred and discrimination between ethnic groups, or promote cults and superstitions, the association said. The new rules will come into force on a trial basis on March 1.

The association did not say why it had decided to introduce such a policy now, but Chinese consumers have become increasingly vocal about their expectations for the behaviour of companies and celebrities, especially foreign ones.

Italian luxury label Prada last month ended all cooperation with Chinese actress Zheng Shuang, 29, whom it had just appointed as a brand ambassador, after she was engulfed in a surrogacy controversy that has enthralled the Chinese public.

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing and Taiwanese actor Kai Ko were among the artistes named by an opinion piece published under the pseudonym Xiakedao, which ran in the overseas edition of the official People’s Daily in November, as it called for their ban.

Fan, 39, was embroiled in a tax-evasion scandal in 2018, while Ko, 29, was arrested for taking drugs in Beijing in 2014. 

In its new guidelines, the Association also said performers should not organise, take part in or promote illegal activities such as pornography, gambling, drugs and violence, among other activities.

Those found to have fallen foul of the new rules will be allowed to resume work only after obtaining the approval of an ethics unit, it added.