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China

China's New TV Censorship May Be A Sign That State Control Is Losing Its Grip

New Chinese regulations limiting entertainment shows on regional television channels may be an attempt to halt the declining ratings of the CCTV state-controlled network. But with the growth of the Internet, and other new freedoms, it may not work this ti

Super Girl contestants (Hunan TV)
Super Girl contestants (Hunan TV)

BEIJING - A few days ago, China's State Administration of Radio Film and Television released a new directive dubbed: the Entertainment Limitation Order, imposing strict new regulations on the entertainment programs that Chinese satellite TV stations are allowed to broadcast to viewers.

The central target of the regulations is to limit the number of "entertainment" shows during prime time hours. According to the new regulations, each satellite channel is only permitted to broadcast two entertainment programs per week between 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. There are even stricter limits on talent shows, which cannot exceed more than ten per year. There is also a requirement that each TV station produce an "ethics construction" program, and forced reductions in the number of Taiwanese artists presented on air.

The regulations, however, are only applied to some 30 provincial satellite TVs. This excludes the state-owned CCTV. Some are therefore asking whether the origin behind this new directive is to counteract the declining popularity of CCTV's news programs and recreational shows. Currently, at 7:00 p.m. every night, Chinese viewers who want a bit of information have no choice but to watch the so-called "News Network" of the Chinese Communist Party, and the government's propaganda machine. This is not only broadcast by CCTV itself, but also on a provincial-level by local stations that are obliged to air it.

Last month, an amusing show usually airing on provincial Hunan TV called "Super Girl", a highly popular Chinese version of American Idol, was banned, sparking public outcry. Officially, the government accused the program of often running past its allotted time, but the public believe that it's because the authorities were worried that the audience might get inspired by the voting system and American-style democracy of the singing contest with viewer participation.

The Chinese authorities still regard television as a channel for ideological education of its people, even if in recent years, the development of web media is increasingly challenging the government's continuing attempts to censor the news or control certain types of TV programs from airing from either inside or outside of China.

As Wuyue Sanren, a commentator at this newspaper, puts it: any society that flaunts the morality flag cannot really work with a sense of morality. Rather it's those societies with pluralistic entertainment and values that touch the common bottom line of our humanity. Alas, everyone knows this truth, just not the managers of this government.

Read the full version of the article in Chinese in E.O.

photo - HunanTV

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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