New Government Rules Look to Tame Chinese Fanfiction

New government regulations want online literature to "spread new social fashion and positive energy"

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10:46 PM HKT, Thu June 18, 2020

On Monday, China’s National Press and Publication Administration announced a sweeping range of new measures for online literature, coming in the wake of a number of scandals surrounding Chinese fanfiction — notably the Sean Xiao Zhan AO3 incident.

According to Xinhua, the document detailed that literature publishers should only support “high-quality, innovative works.” SCMP also reported that the literature should “abide by public order and morals and spread new social fashion and positive energy.” As part of the measures, the Administration will require real-name registration for writers.

Fanfiction has been facing increased monitoring from the Chinese government in recent months. In March, popular fanfiction site AO3 was blocked in China after fans of actor Xiao Zhan started reporting gay love stories written about him.


Some Chinese netizens were unhappy about the new literature regulations. “At this point it’s easier if just cancel all literature,” one Weibo user sarcastically noted. “We should get rid of written text. We might as well get rid of language too.”

“Why don’t we just pass a law only allowing writing on ‘positive energy’?” another asked, poking fun at the document’s original language.

The new moves come against a backdrop of online literature, with fanfiction included, becoming more influential in China. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 455 million people in the country read 11.7 million online stories last year. Half of the most popular “Chinese intellectual properties” overseas were also works of literature.

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