Cody, E. (1 September, 2004). “China Launches Crackdown on Electronic Pornography,” The Boston
’s Communist leadership, in a self-declared “people’s war against electronic pornography,” have issued a ban on Internet nudity, phone-based erotica, and racy text messages. Pornography, says Industry Minister Wang Xudong, “depraves social morals and especially brings great harm to the country’s young minds.”
But enforcing the ban will not be easy, notes Cody. Recent years have seen a shift toward more sexually-explicit content in novels, on the airwaves, on the Internet, and prostitution (banned in 1949) has made a comeback. The fascination with electronics has gone hand in hand with the shift in attitude. One-thousand pornographic Internet sites are now estimated to be operating in China. Forty percent of service-provider income is said to come from people visiting porn sites.
Even still, the government is serious. Since announcing the ban two months ago, police have shut down about 700 pornographic web sites and arrested 329 people involved in their operation. Moreover, 16,000 internet cafes have been shut down for making pornography available to patrons.
The combination of an anti-vice campaign with strict information monitoring is nothing new in China, where censorship remains a practice. But with more than 80 million Internet users, policing this latest ban will be a challenge. Chinese leadership understands the importance of the Internet as a tool for economic growth, but are unabashed in efforts to control its influence.
One motivating concern is the influence Internet and cell-phone pornography has had on the country’s youth population. Youths are spending their parent’s money on phone-sex calls. Girls have been lured into work as nightclub “hostesses,” and students on summer vacation have wasted away their time by turning to the Internet for entertainment.
The aggressive ban is thus prompted by a mix of moral and practical concerns. Its measures combine apparent appeals to moral virtue with the unquestioned force of Communist leadership to require this virtue.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
1. Why is pornography a concern for China
’s communist regime?
2. Does it seem strange that a communist country would take such a principled stand while in America
internet porn is a flourishing industry?
3. Why is pornography such an easy form of addiction?
4. Is the Chinese ban fair? Will it be successful?
Whether or not the motivations are sound, the fact that the communist government of China
has taken a principled stand against pornography suggests that one can be concerned about pornography without having to cite a traditional moral position. And yet, in American culture it remains unclear whether the dangers of pornography are self-evident.
Christopher S. Yates cCYS