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Control or promote? China's cultural censorship system and its influence on copyright protection

Tianxiang He

Keywords: cultural products; censorship; China; copyright; WTO Case DS362/363; enforcement campaign

China is famous for its strict censorship system regarding cultural goods. China is not, of course, the only country which advocates censorship, but its uniqueness lies in the political purposes that its censorship system serves. This article explores China's censorship system in the cultural sector in detail. It examines the ex ante and ex post censorship system in three major areas – publications, traditional broadcasting channels and online publishing – as well as the interplay between related legislations, regulations and national enforcement campaigns. This article explains how China uses these legal instruments and utilizes enforcement campaigns to strategically live up to its international obligations and serve the political needs of content control and market domination, rather than merely the outward purposes of these regulatory instruments and campaigns such as copyright protection.

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