Wang Xiaofeng: Why is SARFT so uptight?


Driving SARFT crazy?

Blogger Wang Xiaofeng wrote a post last week about SARFT and its campaign against Lust, Caution actress Tang Wei. Below is an abridged, roughly translated excerpt:

Why is SARFT so uptight?

During this session of National People’s Congress, there is one thing in particular that worried me badly: the Super Ministry Reform. I was so worried that SARFT would be merged with some other ministry, say the Ministry of Culture, into a bigger Super Ministry of Culture, and then we would all miss SARFT so. [But that did not happen]…

…So SARFT, like a menopausal women having hot flushes, will continue to throw bans here and there for no reason whatsoever…

…If you insist on asking why it should behave that way, “Well… because I can,” is probably the only answer you can expect from SARFT. Think about this, it was the SARFT who gave Lust, Caution permission in the first place, and now, it imposed a ban on Tang Wei appearing in any commercial on any Chinese TV channel. Why should SARFT do that?

Yes, you may have figured it out by now—SARFT has got the power, the kind of power with which it can do whatever it wants and get away with it! Just like our chief editor shouts at us all the time and no one dares to talk back because he is the one who has the power, right?…

…What law is behind this decision banning Tang Wei? The are two, namely the Movie Regulation Rules (电影管理条例) and Movie Approval Stipulations (电影审查规定) which are actually not “laws” but “stipulations” passed by the the State Council, namely the Central People’s Government. Such stipulations only govern certain groups of people, unlike the laws passed by National People’s Congress which everyone is equally subject to. Tang Wei is an actress, so she is on the turf of the two mighty stipulations which govern the movie industry.

In April 1989, the National People’s Congress enacted the Administration Litigation Law which was designed to hold the executive branch of the government accountable for its behavior. If there is any disagreement about a law or the way it is applied, technically you can take the government to court for further arbitration. Since the passing of this law, all subsequent stipulations have added similar articles. Curiously, the Movie Regulation Rules and Movie Approval Stipulations do not contain any such clause. Therefore from a legal perspective, you cannot sue SARFT…

…If you are in the film business, no matter who you are, if you have a problem with the SARFT, you are done for. Zhang Yimou was almost banned; Feng Xiaogang was almost banned; Tian Zhuangzhuang was banned for ten years, long enough that now when he is back, he has forgotten how to make a movie. Will Tang Wei get banned and get old, so old that she won’t be able to star in any movies? Is there any place she can go for justice? I wish there was. But most people in the movie business, I guess, are by now used to SARFT’s bans…

The funniest part maybe is that when SARFT banned Tang Wei, it did not leave any written records. This decision which has already made Unilever lose millions [paid for Tang Wei’s endorsement] is almost untraceable. So if Unilever wanted to sue SARFT, which of course is highly improbable, it wouldn’t be able to get hold of any evidence necessary for the prosecution.

Even if SARFT did get sued, neither Tang Wei nor Unilever would stand a chance, because technically Tang Wei was not “banned”. It’s rather the TV channels that are banned from showing commercials containing images of Tang Wei. So Tang Wei could not sue SARFT. Neither can Unilever. Only the TV channels have the right to prosecute.

Unfortunately, they do not have the balls.

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