A museum commemorating the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (1921), in the former French Concession of Shanghai, China. Image by David Stanley available at Flickr.com under CC license.
As the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party approaches, promotional messages about the glories of the Party’s past and present have become nearly ubiquitous online and offline, splashed across banners and billboards. But the leadership has also been keen to ensure that promotion of the event conforms to the Party’s rules — and does not subject its image to the indignities of excessive commercialism.
Last month, the Party’s Central Office issued a blueprint offering guidance on how promotion of the anniversary should happen, including a pre-approved master list of slogans. And this week, market regulation authorities released a list of “classic cases” to warn for-profit businesses against misusing the glories of the anniversary for commercial campaigns.
In its notice on Wednesday, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) outlined eight offensive acts that have recently been investigated in order to create an environment for commemoration of the anniversary that is “festive and warm” and yet “serious and solemn.” The cases outlined by SAMR, which are no doubt just the tip of the iceberg, offer an interesting glimpse into how some have sought to exploit the 100th anniversary.
One of the cases involved Beijing Haoso Finishing Touch Technology (北京好搜点睛科技有限公司), which operates the advertising business for the 360 Search platform (so.com) under Qihoo 360, the Chinese internet security company. Beijing Haoso is accused in the notice of having “failed to review the content of the relevant advertisements, and to prevent others from releasing illegal advertisements with the help of the platform.” This included advertising content that “appropriated the images of staff at government organs,” and that apparently offered collectibles related to the Party’s 100th anniversary.
For these violations of the Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China, the company was charged an administrative penalty of 170,000 yuan. A related case, placed at the top of the SAMR list, implicated the Henan regional agent for 360 Search, a company called Henan 360 Information Technology (河南三百六信息技术有限公司). The company was accused of publishing advertisements themed on the 100th anniversary that even made the claim that they were “officially approved for release by authoritative departments.” For these violations, local market authorities in Henan reportedly confiscated 8,800 yuan in ill-gotten advertising fees, equivalent to just under 1,400 dollars, but fined the company 945,000 yuan, a far more substantial sum.
One of the more colorful violators on the SAMR list was China Brewing (Beijing) Cultural Development, a distributor of Chinese wines and spirits. The company apparently created a standalone website to promote the 100th anniversary and its own commercial products, and invited visitors to participate and become “the chief designer of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party,” by choosing from among 100 different commemorative images that included the Chinese Communist Party emblem.
SAMR said in its notice that it “hopes that the majority of market players take these cases as a warning, effectively enhancing their legal awareness and consciously complying with the law.” The department said it would “ continue to crack down on commercial speculation in the name of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Party.”