Beijing Walks Back Crackdown On Video Games, But Promises To Protect Teens From "Internet Dangers"

Beijing Walks Back Crackdown On Video Games, But Promises To Protect Teens From "Internet Dangers"


Following the publication of a damning article that denounced video games as "spiritual opium" transforming teenagers into addicts, it appears the CCP's planned crackdown on the Chinese video game industry has been averted by a sudden change of heart.

After briefly pulling the original article before republishing a version that's dramatically toned down, Chinese state media further tempered its criticisms of the video game industry on Wednesday as the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said in an opinion piece that "all sectors of society" must help protect minors from unspecified "Internet dangers."

The article is notable in that it didn't assign blame to the video game industry. What's more, another article said video games have benefits including broadcasting "positive energy."

On China's Weibo, a twitter-like social media service, Global Times editor Hu Xijin (who runs a twitter account that's closely watched by American journalists) dismissed the article, saying it wasn't "making a declaration" and cautioned against misreading China's regulatory threats.

"Now is the time to strengthen standards, but the purpose of governance is to forge more healthy development and not to attack the internet platform economy," he said. "I cannot imagine that the state will take the simple approach of sealing off online video games."

In another major departure, the Securities Daily, which is also state-backed, declared in a front-page commentary that while higher requirements needed to be put on video game firms, the industry's healthy development urgently needed to be promoted.

Initially, an article published by the Economic Information Daily, an economic journal connected to Chinese media giant Xinhua, bashed video games as "spiritual opium" and warned that video game purveyors must not be allowed to "destroy a generation" with "electronic drugs".

The comparison to drugs alarmed investors, who dumped shares of video game stocks (including Tencent, which dropped 10% in early trade). The article cited Tencent's hugely popular game "Honor of Kings" as a top offender, claiming students were playing the game for up to 8 hours a day when they should be studying."

In response, Tencent said it would introduce measures to reduce the time teenagers are allowed to spend playing "Honor of Kings", with restrictions set to be rolled out to other games in the near future. Despite the CCP's change of heart, Tencent hasn't rescinded its restrictions.


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