China's TV Regulators Crack Down on Anti-Japanese Historical Dramas

Over 30 percent of productions shot at the country's Hengdian World Studios in 2012 featured Japanese soldiers being slaughtered by Chinese heroes.

China's state TV regulator has called for a crackdown on production of inflammatory and inaccurate historical dramas about the country's World War II era battles with Japan. 

Anti-Japanese content has long played well in China, where resentments over the atrocities committed by colonial Japan during the war era continue to run high. But many of the mass produced war dramas tend to be campy, B-movie style productions, which feature waves of Japanese fighters meeting their demise at the hands of righteous Chinese soldiers -- often in the most outlandish of ways, such as in one show where a Chinese hero tears a Japanese soldier in half using only his bare hands (see below).

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According to a report in the Qianjiang Evening News, 150 movies or TV dramas were filmed at Chinese mega-production facility Hengdian World Studios in 2012, 48 of which were anti-Japanese works set during the war. The news outlet interviewed one studio extra, Shi Zhongpeng, aged 26, who said he appeared as a member of the Japanese military over 200 times last year, often dying on camera as many as eight times per day. 

Recently, however, some Chinese viewers have grown frustrated with both the volume of the anti-Japanese fare and its inauthentic and historically distorted nature. Discussion and derision of such programming has been a regular trending topic on Weibo, with some users saying it is disrespectful of a solemn period in the nation's history. 

And it now appears the authorities are listening. 

"The anti-Japan war is a great act of heroism performed by the Chinese people against the invaders, and is a valuable resource for film and television creativity," Wang Weiping, deputy director of the TV management at the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told state paper the People's Daily.

"Recently some of this creativity has shown a lack of seriousness, creating lots of nonsense, not respecting history and being overly entertaining which has had a bad effect on society which must be corrected," Wang added. 

The regulator has demanded that broadcasters review their current lineups and "rectify" those that are "excessively entertaining."