Major blow to Chinese capitalism: Gov’t bans ads for push-up bras, “figure-enhancing undergarments” and sex toys

china breast adRegulators have already targeted ads using crude or suggestive language, behavior, and images, tightening their grip on television and radio a few weeks ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress at which some new senior leaders will be appointed. The latest move by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or SARFT, also bans advertisements for sexual aids such as tonics that claim to boost performance in bed.

So the government wants a monopoly on lying to people?


Beijing unveils cartoon cops to police surfing habits

webcops Police in China’s capital said Tuesday will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.

Suddenly the phrase “blue screen of death” takes on a whole new meaning. Oddly the police aren’t wearing Google or Yahoo logos.  C’mon, guys! Sponsorship opportunity!

Lessons in bad PR: China Airline paints over logo on crashed airplane

Whatever their other differences Taiwan & mainland China do have one thing in common: A total lack of PR skills.

logoCAExample 1: Taiwan’s China Airlines apparently thought that no one would noticed if they painted over the logo on the remains of one of their airplanes which exploded shortly after landing in Japan.

Television footage showed a maintenance crew in green suits whitening out the name China Airlines on the plane’s mangled body as well as the Taiwanese carrier’s plum flower emblem on its tail.

Yeah, that tells the customers that you have your priorities in order.

Meanwhile in an apparent attempt to deal with negative publicity from making poisonous and/or fatally flawed products, Beijing has resorted to the time-tested tactic of yelling, “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

China said Wednesday it had found pesticides, poisonous weeds, and dirt in shipments of imported U.S. soybeans, and a toy industry representative said U.S. manufacturer Mattel Inc. was partly to blame for lead tainting that caused massive toy recalls.

Yes, I DO find all their claims entirely credible. And I just bought this beautiful golden bridge out in San Francisco.

BTW, same day the Chinese government claimed that it was all our fault a Beijing newspaper reported that a

factory sold up to 100,000 pairs of disposable chopsticks a day without any form of disinfection.

I stand ready to find out how it is the US’s fault. Or to paint them over.

Google launches on-line answer service in China

Via Read/WriteWeb:

google chinaGoogle China has released a Q&A site, in partnership with Tianya Club. The Make Meaning blog notes that Tianya Club was founded in 1999 and is one of the most popular discussion forums in China. Tianya has almost 20 million registered users, 80% of whom are 18-35 years old.

Some questions that will not be answered:

  1. Penguins Employee of the monthWhat happened at Tiananmen Square?
  2. What happened to “You can make money without doing evil”?
  3. Does this mean you’re rethinking your rethinking of playing footsie with the Chinese government?

Nice additional detail on this at Google Blogoscoped:

In other, related news was recently involved in an attempt by the Chinese government to suppress the reporting on a bridge collapse in Fenghuang a week ago. Quote the Associated Press last Friday:

Communist authorities have banned most state media from reporting on the deadly collapse of a bridge in southern China, with local officials punching and chasing reporters from the scene, reporters said Friday.

The harassment and the accompanying news ban was issued by the Chinese Central Propaganda Department on Thursday, the AP writes. The AP cites a reporter saying that an unidentified mob of locals “roughed up” a group of five reporters who were interviewing the families of those who were killed in the bridge collapse.

Personal branding hits a new low as couple tries to name their kid @

AtAccording to an article the attempted naming was by a Chinese couple. Now word on if officials accepted the “@” name. But earlier this year the government announced a ban on names using Arabic numerals, foreign languages and symbols that do not belong to Chinese minority languages.

Usually I am opposed to the brutal, authoritarian Chinese government but in this case I’m making an exception.

BTW, there’s a great list of what they call that thing in other languages here. “In Mainland China it is quan a (圈a), meaning “circular a” or hua a (花a, lacy a).”

And did you know that you can’t name a category “@” on wordpress? Now you do.

Chinese still don’t “get” capitalism: Gov’t calls for ban on “sexist and sexually suggestive” ads

 “Advertisements that contain sexual hints or flirtatious language are easily seen on some local television channels,” CCTV said on its Web site.

You say that like it’s a bad thing …

Elsewhere in the case of China v. Capitalism, Beijing has tried to cash in on the “Ratatouille” craze by shipping rats to restaurants. OK. That’s a lie. But it would explain why

Live rats are being trucked from central China, suffering a plague of a reported 2 billion rodents displaced by a flooded lake, to the south to end up in restaurant dishes.

Here in Boston we don’t have to ship rats to our restaurants. They come of their own accord.

China co. uses Chelsea Clinton to brand “weight loss patches”


The “herbal weight loss patch which its makers said helped former U.S. President Bill Clinton‘s daughter, Chelsea, shed 26.5 lbs. in under a month. … Customers are instructed to stick the patch to the area of the body where they want to lose weight and then just wait for the fat to flow out of them.

Could we put one on Hillary’s head?

BTW, there’s a great list of this year’s dangerous Chinese imported products at WhoSucks.

Chinese still not entirely in-step with capitalism: Ban sale of “bags of World Cup air”

The Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce has denied a request from The Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Co. to sell “special air from a special place.” The company, which was last seen trying to sell real estate on the moon, wanted to sell green plastic bags full of air from stadiums that hosted matches in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The planned price: 50 yuan ($6.60) each.

Foolish Chinese.

Cry Havoc and loose the Penguins of Irony*: Google celebrates US Banned Books Week

Google, as you may recall, has the following two items in its 10 points of corporate philosophy: “Democracy on the web works” & “You can make money without doing evil.” Observers didn’t realize these were meant to be ironic until the company began kowtowing to the Chinese government and censored their search results there.

Now, in yet another effort to throw yet another fig leaf over their corporate brand they have announced the following effort for Banned Books Week:

To Kill a Mockingbird. Of Mice and Men. The Great Gatsby. 1984. It’s hard to imagine a world without these extraordinary literary classics, but every year there are hundreds of attempts to remove great books from libraries and schools. In fact, according to the American Library Association, 42 of 100 books recognized by the Radcliffe Publishing Course as the best novels of the 20th century have been challenged or banned. Google Book Search is our effort to expand the universe of books you can discover, and this year we’re joining libraries and bookstores across the country to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week – a nationwide initiative to help people learn about and explore banned books. You can start by browsing these 42 classics – books we couldn’t be more pleased to highlight. — Google press release.

And the irony flowed like herring. Hey, can someone ban The Da Vinci Code? Cuz it’s terrible.

*I’m looking for a graphic for the Penguins. Anyone care to suggest or submit one? There’s a free T-shirt in it for you. (At right, our first submission from Mr. Impatient. Thanks, Mr. I!)

Mammon 1, God 0

File under Zen and the art of corporate maintenance.

The first group of monks in China to complete an MBA course have begun reflecting on their achievements.

China continued to show it’s adapting to capitalism when Shanghai’s Jade Buddha Temple commissioned Jiaotong University to design a degree focussing on monastery management, to help its monks mix business with prayer.

“Jade Buddha Monastery needs management just like a company,” Chang Chun, the temple’s general manager and a newly minted MBA-holder, was quoted as saying by China Daily.

In addition to the usual MBA nonsense, the monks’ curriculum included lectures on temple management, philosophy and religious product marketing. Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” was on the reading list.

Now if we could just get more MBAs to study Buddhism.

In today’s news…

You know your approval ratings are low when: Jessica Simpson snubs Bush.

Best line from the story goes to a very petulant sounding NRCC spokesman Carl Forti: “It’s never been a problem for Bono,” he said, referring to the U2 rock star who has met regularly with political leaders of all stripes to promote various causes, including Third World debt relief. “I find it hard to believe she would pass up an opportunity to lobby the president on behalf of Operation Smile.”

Good news! Hot pepper kills prostate cancer cells in study: Is there’s anything it can’t do?

File under: All is chaos under heaven, and the situation in excellent. A special As I Say, Not As I Do award to China’s President Hu Jintao for publishing the following list of Do’s and Don’ts for his countrymen.

Love, do not harm the motherland.
Serve, don’t disserve the people.
Uphold science; don’t be ignorant and unenlightened.
Work hard; don’t be lazy and hate work.
Be united and help each other; don’t gain benefits at the expense of others.
Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of your values.
Be disciplined and law-abiding instead of chaotic and lawless.
Know plain living and hard struggle, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.

The list of aphorisms went on sale yesterday in the form of a poster with plain, black Chinese characters above a photo of the Great Wall, cost: $1. Apparently the president hopes to “douse the excesses of China’s 27-year-long economic boom with a bucket of cold virtue.” No word yet on whether Jessica Simpson would meet with this president.

Oh Brave New Media, That Has Such Strange Creatures In It: Let it not be said that the Chinese are stuck in the old ways when it comes to exhorting the masses to virtue. A new online game which stars legendary Communist hero Lei Feng shows people the way to go is “doing good deeds, volunteering on building sites and obtaining Chairman Mao’s autograph.”

Quoth Reuters: “For beginners, sewing and mending socks is the only way to increase experience and upgrade,” said Jiao Jian, a young pupil and online game fan from the southern city of Guangzhou. “As long as my experience, reputation, skill and loyalty satisfy the game’s criteria, I will win and meet Chairman Mao.”

One has to assume that the point in meeting and getting the autograph of the dictator responsible for killing tens of millions is to then be able to sell it on eBay for Big Bucks which can then be spent, virtuously, on copies of President Hu’s poster.

Chinese Pols continue to stand up for as little as possible

The members of the Chinese legislature, who make our bunch of duly elected corporate running dogs look like … well … something better than that, have found a few more issues that they are willing to actually stand up about. Faithful readers will doubtless remember that when we last heard from the Beijing Rubber Stamp company they were up in arms over ads during the national weather report which follows China Central Television’s evening news. Not content with that hard hitting stand they are now calling for
the mandatory use of edible toothpicks, professional footballers to avoid sex with prostitutes and the legalization of same-sex marriages (SURPRISE! Massachusetts is farther to the left than Beijing!). Another proposal advocated preventing corruption with a law to control civil servants’ weight (the idea being prevent them squandering public money on wining and dining). Hate to do comparison shopping on this, but are these measures really all that different than deciding on an official state muffin?

China balks at latest intrusion of capitalism

Chinese pols have finally found an issue safe enough to take a stand on: TV ads.

What’s behind this sudden growth of spine? Ads during the national weather report which follows China Central Television’s evening news. The weather report “has the highest ratings of any show in the country and should be informative, Liang Rongxin said, criticizing some of the weathermen for trying to be entertainers.” Be afraid Willard Scott, be very afraid.

Reuters quoths Liang, “The weather report never used to have ads, but in the past two years there have been a lot and audiences are disgusted.” Reuters also reports that earlier in the session of parliament, another delegate sounded off against the proliferation of domestic ads featuring young children, calling them a form of “child labor” that could rob them of their innocence. Y’know if I were them I’d be a little hesitant to make any charges even vaguely redolent of the words “forced labor.”

Google appears to be trying to develop a spine…

Google has decided that maybe its time to sort of do the right thing after all. CIO.Com reports that, “In an effort to protect users of its Web site, Google Inc. is moving search records out of China, a company executive said this week. … The Mountain View, California, company has decided to store search records from the site outside of the country in order to prevent China’s government from being able to access the data without Google’s consent.”

Oddly, Google will be moving the records to a nation whose government seems hell bent on getting its hands on those records: The United States.

This is the latest part in the company’s attempt to win back some good PR. Last week they loudly proclaimed a new boss for their recent philanthropic efforts. The new boss is the most wonderfully named Larry Brilliant. Not a stunt at all, I’m sure.

Do you mind if I quote myself? Do I care?This is from Crashing the System, my short-lived blog at

Microsoft, Yahoo, Cisco Systems and Google all continue to blame the free market for their decisions to do business with Beijing. Reps from The Gang of Four were in Washington this week defending their right to extract profits from China and other nations no matter how loathsome their governments are. They said, and I paraphrase, that the buck on this issue stops in DC not in the private sector, unless of course we can add that buck to our balance sheets. Yahoo spokescreature Michael Callahan told the House International Relations subcommittee “these issues are larger than any one company, or any one industry. We appeal to the U.S. government to do all it can to help us provide beneficial services to Chinese citizens lawfully and in a way consistent with our shared values.” Cuz Lord knows we sure as hell aren’t going to do anything about it. Oh wait. I added that last part.

So long, Street Fighting Man

The Rolling Stones – fresh off an incredibly arthritic performance at the Super Bowl – have decided have decided they’re not too old to learn a new dance, in this case it’s the craze that’s sweeping the corporate world: the Chinese Censorship Shuffle. Yes, the World’s Oldest Living Rock And Roll Band who — legend has it — once peed not on a parking lot but on its attendant, have decided not to perform “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Women” and “Beast of Burden” when they play in China next month. The no-play list is the result of a request by The Chinese Ministry of Culture. If Beijing is so hung up about sex, as this list would indicate, why those songs? What about the ironic Microsoft anthem “Start Me Up”? Or “Satisfaction”? Most inscrutable. Personally, I would like to request that Mick stop trying to do the strutting rooster move ever again. I’m just afraid he’ll injure himself.

Speaking of old geezers in the Middle Kingdom … no less a personage than James Brown appears to have struck some marketing gold there. A recent performance in Shanghai by the Godfather of soul so moved Zhang Zhenglun, a textiles factory director from wealthy eastern Jiangsu province, that he immediately offered to put out a signature range of JB bed linens.

Zhang is a business partner of Brown’s manager but had never before encountered Brown’s music. Like every other human’s first encounter with a JB performance he was blown away and the day after the concert was already impersonating Brown’s signature “bicycle dance.” (Suggestion: Only in front of the mirror, dude.)

“I’ve seen many concerts in China but this was the first time I’ve seen such an explosive act,” Zhang told Reuters. “The audience was standing and dancing around, which you just don’t see in China.”

The new linens have “Mr. Please Please” sewn in gold letters across a red bedspread, while designs are being considered for pillow cases with the letters “JB” embroidered in the centre, and the shape of a dancing boot outlined at the foot of each letter. What? No cape? A real fan would have included a cape.”I can tell you right now that he loves it,” said “SuperFrank” Copsidas, James Brown’s manager since 2002. Mr. Copsidas clearly felt that it would be obvious to add, “as long as the check clears.”