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China's Tattoo Crackdown: Celebrity, Subversion And A Twist Of Patriotism

A new regulation in China is cracking down hard on tattoos. The law is ostensibly about minors, but some argue that it's going too far and actively erasing the glorious Chinese past.

Hong Kong Tattoo Show 2021​

Hong Kong Tattoo Show 2021

Chung Kin Wah

For those who get tattoos to be noticed, the Chinese government has noticed.

In June, China's State Council released new measures targeting the showcasing of tattoos in public media, forbidding publications, films and television programs from encouraging or abetting minors to get tattoos. This new regulation also prohibits any enterprise, organization or individual from providing tattooing services to minors.

The country's Children's Welfare Department later announced that minors cannot be tattooed, even with the consent of their parents. The regulations also state that anyone who gets a tattoo for a minor in violation of the law, or who breaks the law on promoting tattoo awareness, will face prosecution.

The Chinese government had already banned entertainment artists with tattoos from appearing on TV shows back in 2018, describing them as people who were "alienated from the Party and the country."

The national football team was also banned from having tattoos in December 2021. Those who already had tattoos were required to have them removed. In exceptional cases, players must cover their tattoos during training and matches with the consent of the team, as in the case of the China Cup at the end of March 2018, when some national football players had their arms taped and wore long-sleeved jerseys to cover their tattoos.

Previous crackdowns on tattoos

In January 2018, the Director-General of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) issued a directive on the four principles that should govern the invitation of guests to Chinese radio and television, one of which was not to use artists with tattoos for public programs.

Tattoos and piercings are all 'subcultures.'

Following this directive, China’s massive entertainment industry was forced to conduct self-censorship to prevent sudden crackdowns on their shows. In 2018, one of the country's most popular hip-hop singers was withdrawn from a TV competition shortly after releasing a song which included a lyrical reference to tattoos.

And a guest on a family variety show was blurred out because he had a large tattoo on his body. Some online commentators questioned the fact that their favorite TV programs were being obscured, while others said that the Chinese government's repeated restrictions were unnecessary and that censorship was ruining the quality of television. One related example was the Chinese government's restrictions last year that male artists not behave in a "feminine" manner, with one program forced to block out the ears of male artists wearing earrings.

Chinese footballer Zhang Linpeng\u200b has been told to cover his tattoos

Chinese footballer Zhang Linpeng has been told to cover his tattoos


Why subcultures aren't tolerated in China

Many members of the public agreed on regulating tattooing for younger people, but there are also those contesting the ban on tattoos itself, stating that tattooing has always been part of Chinese traditional culture and passed down through history.

As they see it, if tattoos did not allow someone to join the army or become a leader in ancient China, many ancient heroes with patriotic tattoos would have been banned. This is an ironic comment on the Chinese government's intention to erase history and prohibit Chinese people from expressing "patriotic" sentiments through tattoos.

Nevertheless, the mentality behind maintaining this regulation is very clear. As one person commented on social media: "Tattoos and piercings are all 'subcultures', and subcultural behavior often implies a challenge to the dominant culture. For the Chinese Communist Party, which demands unity of thought, there is a reason why subcultures are not tolerated."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

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These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

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