Last month, a directive issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology banned foreign companies and foreign-Chinese joint ventures from publishing online, with the ban going into effect on March 10. The vague wording of the document has many publishers (as well as foreign brands that publish online) wondering what it means for their business. To learn about the potential impacts for fashion magazines and luxury brands, we asked readers to submit questions to Hung Huang on the topic. Below, she shares her expertise as a fashion magazine publisher.
For next week’s topic, we welcome readers to submit their questions about Hong Kong’s retail situation. As Hong Kong sees a slump in mainland visitor numbers and retail sales, luxury brands are making a variety of adjustments, such as closing stores, renegotiating rents, or focusing on local shoppers.
Submit your question on this topic via Twitter (hashtag #AskHungHuang), Facebook, email (email@example.com), or Weibo (hashtag #AskHungHuang#) by Tuesday, March 29.
March 10 has passed. Foreign publishers are under scrutiny. Who should be concerned?
-Susan Owens, founder of Paris Cherie (@parispost)
The thing is March 10th has come and gone. Nothing happened. It’s the most talked-about non-event. But actually, something has happened. All the digital publishing by foreign media companies is now officially illegal. Even if nothing happens to them now, anything can happen to them anytime from now on. It’s a hanging axe over one’s head.
In some ways, it’s censorship by fear. A regulation that bans all foreign media but is not executed actually makes foreign media “behave better.”
Is your magazine affected in any way by the ban?
Chinese publications like my own magazine Openpage are not included in the ban. But as long as there is no transparency in how media is regulated in China, we are all sleepless from the fear that the axe may fall on our heads tonight.
Does this apply to media companies or will luxury brands who publish promotional articles on social media also be affected?
My interpretation is that you can continue to publish if you are not a media company. So Dior, Chanel, and Hermès can continue to exist on social media, but not Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire. This is funny, since there is no big difference between their content anyway.
The policy says that joint ventures can still publish under special circumstances, but the wording is vague about the specific conditions where this could happen. What might this mean?
I think all regulations are vague on purpose. This vagueness leaves a lot of space for favors and other arbitrary interpretation of the regulation by the administrators. How else can they afford the rising college tuition in the States?