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“China bans time travel”

No kidding!  I am still deciding whether this is funny.  Google search this phrase, “China bans time travel,” and it will yield the following (results around April 19, 2011 22:50pm PST):

Chinese censors attack ‘frivolous’ time travel dramas

Telegraph.co.uk – Andrew Hough – ‎Apr 15, 2011‎
Television dramas with plots involving time travel could be banned by the Chinese government under a fresh censorship drive, it has emerged. The move would ban cult movie classic such as Back to the Future. Photo: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS A scene from Back to 

China bans time travel on the tube

Boston Globe – Jesse Nunes – ‎Apr 14, 2011‎

By Carli Velocci, Boston.com Correspondent If you’re living in China right now and want to enjoy a nice quiet evening on the sofa watching the classic 1960 film version of “The Time Machine,” you may be out of luck. The New York Times recently reported 

Great Scott! China bans time travel at the cinema and on TV

Daily Mail – Richard Hartley-parkinson – ‎Apr 14, 2011‎

Shows that feature time travel have been effectively banned by the Chinese government after it issued new rules for TV and film directors. In the latest crackdown on dissent, authorities want its citizens to uphold the 

China censors want to consign time travel dramas to past

The Guardian – ‎Apr 14, 2011‎

Quantum Leap forward? China’s censors say time travel dramas have ‘questionable’ content and ‘exaggerated’ performance styles. Photograph: PR China’s censors have long been known for their stringent approach to television, but now they are taking on an 

Chinese Government Bans Television Time Travel

Huffington Post – ‎Apr 13, 2011‎

When it comes to time travel, the only obstacle greater than harnessing 1.21 gigawatts could be getting past the Chinese government. China’s State Administration for Radio, Film & Television has issued new protocol that essentially puts the brakes on 

China Decides to Ban Time Travel

TIME – Erica Ho – ‎Apr 13, 2011‎

In China… well, in China, many weird things happen. The Chinese government, in another strange episode, has decided to ban time travel. Well, at least when it comes to television shows and movies. 


One might want to look up what FUD stands for.  Of course these Western media reports are wildly inaccurate, even given the context of TV shows. China Broadcasting Administration’s March television production filing report did not mention any ban, not the least of banning time travel themed TV shows. What it did say is while by and large the state of television production is good, there are some poorly made shows they have concerns over.

Apparently, when the Broadcasting Administration sneezes, it can arouse “censorship” and “human rights” panic in the West.  China is godly powerful. Tone down, China, otherwise you might cause a heart-attack in the West!

The real story is that lately there has been too many remakes of the Four Great Works of China, and have led to some lowbrow TV shows with ridiculous treatment unworthy of historical context of the original works. Also ghost stories that are too scary for children during primetime are asked to be rescripted (content appropriateness for given time slot is an issue TV censor boards in US would also censor).

It’s not hard to fact check this – just plug the press release into any old machine translator and see if time travel is mentioned. Here’ what the China Broadcasting Administration actually said (my translation):


We hope production companies would maintain their creative thoughts, promote superior traditional Chinese culture, and strive to improve television’s artistic ideals and substance.

Does that sound like a ban? Not to mention the fact the press release cited is about a TV production statistics publication, not a legislative decision or administrative decree.

And, the creative FUD award goes to The Telegraph for slapping quotes around ‘frivolous.’ Also take note of their plausible deniability tactic – they stuck in a ‘could’ that will be automatically skipped over.

  1. Zach
    April 20th, 2011 at 03:22 | #1

    My hunch is that this whole story started with this article on QQ:


    which was then translated into English by the blog ChinaHush, where 穿越剧 was translated into “time-travel drama” and then somewhere along the way the source got muddled either by people who couldn’t read Chinese, or who felt that providing QQ as a source was not credible enough, whereas linking to a loosely related release from a government body would just be automatically trusted by the majority of Western readers…

  2. TonyP4
    April 20th, 2011 at 12:44 | #2

    This is my only sure way to pick the correct numbers in the lottery!

  3. Ben
    April 20th, 2011 at 21:27 | #3

    So Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is banned?!? most UN-excellent…a Bogus Journey even…

  4. Charles Liu
    April 20th, 2011 at 22:02 | #4

    Bill and Ted is not banned – excellent!
    Media washing our brain – bogus!

    Seriousely dude, see for yourself:

  5. April 22nd, 2011 at 01:39 | #5

    It’s a really interesting example of how the Chinese leadership are beginning to broaden their thinking dramatically. The old Western Liberal Democracy is gone, they are now talking seriously the paternalistic idea of building an advanced civilization, not just a populist trashy Western anarchy.

    Do you see one of the comments on this article which is food for thought I think: “At least the Chinese are smart enough to stop mind destroying trash from lowering the level of intelligence of their people. For the next 20 years, the people of the west need to ask themselves everyday, ‘Why, on average, are the Chinese people so much stronger and such hard workers, when our people seem frail, weak, and want to live on benefits all their lives?’. You might watch what someone is putting into the heads of your people through the television if you are truly serious about wanting to know the answer.”

    This year is really proving to be a dramatic “year of the rabbit”. The new paradigm is taking shape, everywhere you look the ideas are breeding and multiplying. What an amazing time!

  6. May 20th, 2011 at 02:03 | #6

    More stupidity from Anderson Cooper and CNN

  7. May 20th, 2011 at 10:05 | #7

    To clarify, I think the stupidity refers to getting the facts wrong, distorting facts – not necessarily his professed love of science fiction or his rendition of night show style skids.

  8. May 20th, 2011 at 11:13 | #8

    Thx for clarifying Allen.

  9. May 24th, 2011 at 09:54 | #9

    Time Travel for Individuals – not Governments:

    To break the restriction of a linear time sequence, the Lost need empirical data – uncorrupted, honest data. However, the Lost have filtered all their data with a scientific-religious presumption: a finite universe with a finite number of dimensions.

    The Lost do not understand, nor do they perceive their conflict with the Infinite Universe and the Infinite number of dimensions…

    “…nothing can be added to it,
    nor anything taken from it…”

    Best Regards,

    Frank Hatch
    Initial Mass Displacements

  10. June 9th, 2011 at 12:20 | #10

    Individuals vs Governments:

    Governments have no imagination; they are locked into a limited, governable analysis. By restricting their dialectical analysis to a linear time sequence, the primary governmental concern is the acceptance of their historical data as the truth. However, imaginative individuals are able to treat such truncated “data” as variables. Such “disrespect” for governmental data (i.e., politically correct data) is any totalitarian’s nightmare: the first crack in the official justification of dominance over individuals.

    Best Regards,

    Frank Hatch
    Initial Mass Displacements

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