Beijing’s city government reviewed a new anti-drug bill tightening oversight of celebrity drug use on Wednesday, the country’s latest attempt to codify its unspoken practice of banning entertainers with drug history.
The bill was discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the municipal People’s Congress, the city’s top legislative body. China’s congresses are mostly rubber-stamp entities, so the draft bill will almost certainly go through.
This year, which marks the politically sensitive 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party, Chinese authorities have stressed that entertainers and celebrities with the power to sway public opinion should keep up the right politics and conduct, should they wish to remain in the public eye.
“Films, radio and TV programs, and other types of literary and artistic works are important vehicles for spreading exemplary socialist culture and guiding the public towards the practice of socialist core values,” explained Chen Yong, chairman of the Congress’ influential Supervisory and Judicial Affairs Committee, according to the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece.
The strict management of drug-related offenses in entertainment will thus “help to establish the correct moral direction for society,” he said.
China already unofficially blacklists performers who have been caught using drugs, such as Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee Chan, whose film project was put indefinitely on ice after he served six months in jail for a drug offense. Different high-profile efforts to formalize this practice in recent months may be as performative as they are codifying.
The new draft regulation calls on entertainers to “consciously resist drugs, establish a healthy and uplifting social image, and actively spread positive energy.”
It also stipulates that owners and operators of entertainment venues, hotels and internet cafes must establish more robust inspection systems to uncover suspected drug-related activities on their premises.
The bill asks entertainment industry associations to design “self-disciplinary measures,” or self-regulatory punishment mechanisms, for members who use drugs, and to carry out anti-drug publicity and education.
It encourages citizens to submit drug-use tip-offs, pledging that their privacy and safety will be ensured and that there will be “rewards those who have done a good job,” without providing further detail.
At the meeting, Chen’s committee declared that the draft bill was not yet harsh enough.
It recommended new provisions dictating that performing arts bodies and authorities overseeing film, radio and TV should ban entertainers with past drug history entirely from appearing publicly, and prohibit the airing of their commercials and sponsorships.
Last month, China’s national congress mulled a bill to ban actors with past drug use for life after the proposal garnered viral support online, with the issue rising to the top of Weibo’s hot search list with nearly billion views of its most popular associated hashtags. In February, the government-backed China Association of Performing Arts issued new “celebrity morality guidelines” that established a committee to police entertainers who have used drugs or exhibited the wrong political bonafides.
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