Members of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee have mooted the idea of a social credit evaluation system for the entertainment sector, as China steps up efforts to bring order to an industry that was rocked by plagiarism, tax evasion and payments to create fake fan followings in 2018.
The social credit system, a unified system that ranks trustworthiness across several parameters, is likely to be rolled out nationally in 2020. There have already been suggestions by some of the members at the ongoing session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee that the entertainment sector needs to be brought under its ambit.
Gong Hanlin, a well-known comedian and a CPPCC National Committee member, suggested a blacklist mechanism that would impose punishments for offenders, similar to the social credit system that seeks to prevent offenders from purchasing train or flight tickets.
“It is necessary to curb such behavior,” Gong said.
Gong was referring to many gray industries, such as follower buying, as pop stars’ online influence can help attract numerous business opportunities, considering the purchasing power of their fans.
Cai Xukun, a popular singer who has worked with numerous brands like Chanel, was reported by State broadcaster CCTV as one of those who have created huge fake online fan followings. His latest post featuring a new song on Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media platforms, received about 100 million reposts. The number was roughly one-third of the Weibo users in total.
Such activities have been mushrooming recently with the growing popularity of social media. Agents who can create fake fan followings are found everywhere, be it on Taobao or on WeChat. In a demonstration video by CCTV, they offer various services from basic packages of fake fans and reposts, to customized services. A basic package of 400 followers on Weibo and 100 shares only costs about 10 yuan ($1.5).
“Creating fake fan followings can have negative public influence,” said Zhang Kaili, a well-known actress and CPPCC National Committee member.
“But public reaction on such misconduct has proved to be a more serious deterrent, though there is no regulatory punishment,” she said.
Zhai Tianlin, an actor, was charged with plagiarizing his academic dissertation during his graduate studies at Beijing Film Academy. This drew online criticism and even triggered public anger especially from those who are still struggling to get a doctoral degree. In the past, “highly educated” was one of Zhai’s labels to attract a large fan base.
Recent reports revealed that Zhai’s business and filming opportunities have been hurt by the scandal. The Beijing Film Academy said in February that Zhai’s suspected plagiarism was under investigation.
Hou Guangming, the Party secretary of Beijing Film Academy and a CPPCC National Committee member, said that higher education of film professionals should be more comprehensive and go in parallel with the ongoing efforts to boost acting and direction talent.