What the Chinese government demands of content hosted in China, licensing types, and figuring out if your company needs an ICP license.
Every year, our team in Asia develops and distributes dozens of websites and applications for various markets around the Asia Pacific region. Most of the time, the online materials we produce are created in English before being translated into other languages. Once we’ve received approvals for the English version of the material, we adapt the content and designs for Korean, Thai, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. Not surprisingly, while translation and accommodation of cultural nuances is a large part of this process, some of the markets that we localize for demand unique considerations. China is particularly interesting in this regard.
The Chinese government has specific restrictions on the Internet that lend complexity to any content-release plans. While our primary concern is to ensure that our messages promote our business objectives with the highest fidelity, our next concern is being certain that we are in compliance with the aforementioned government restrictions.
As you’re attempting to place material on the Chinese Internet, you may find yourself burdened with the tedious and rather obscure nature of China’s apparently hard to navigate regulations. But with some research and checking on the latest compliance regulations, we are finding the waters to be rather navigable. With that in mind, let’s check out some facts about online marketing in China, while keeping it legal.
The first thing to understand is that there are general censorship restrictions for advertising in any medium in China. Online material is no exception to the rule. Some of the primary things you cannot discuss or express in ads involve content that:
1. Is in opposition to the basic principles established by the constitution
2. Endangers national security, leaks state secrets, subverts the government or disrupts national unity
3. Does harm to national honor and interests
4. Incites ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination or undermines national unity
5. Undermines national religious policies, promotes cults and feudal superstition
6. Spreads rumors, disturbs the social order or undermines social stability
7. Spreads obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, murder, terrorism or contributes to abetting the commission of crimes
8. Insults or slanders others, infringes upon other’s legitimate rights and interests
9. Contains other content prohibited by laws and administrative regulations
If you looked at this list and thought, “That’s really leaving a lot of room for interpretation,” I agree with you. The ultimate decision for what will be censored and what will pass lies with the incumbent review board. Anything being rejected by the censors would certainly come back with a qualification under any of the above items.
Tune in next month for a few specific examples of things that caused problems for companies looking to clear content and how I propose you deal with similar challenges.