The Asahi Shimbun reports this evening that a number of Chinese video sites have made moves to remove the ‘Japan’ category from their country listings. We did a quick survey of a few of the leading video websites in the country, and indeed this appears to be the case. This comes as political tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are still high.
Looking at the movie pages for both Youku and Tudou, we can see that there is now no trace of Japan among the listed countries. You can see a screenshot of Youku’s movie page listed below, comparing the country list for today with what was on site before . We’ve reached out to Youku to find out more, and we’ll update if we get any comment.
Baidu-owned Qiyi did the same, as you can see below. The left is the country listing on Qiyi’s movie page today, and the right is a cached copy from before.
As for the other big players in the Chinese online video space, PPS.tv has also removed Japan from its country listing on its movie page, and Xunlei looks like it might have as well, although I can’t obtain a cached copy to check if Japan was previously listed.
Among the major video sites, Sohu appears to be the only one (let me know if I’ve missed any) which still has Japan listed.
Despite the fact that anti-Japanese sentiment has always been strong in China, Japanese video content has always been extremely popular on these online video sites. It’s my guess that none of them wants to remove Japanese content from their sites, and that this category removal has been done to appease national censors.
But does it mean anything?
I realize that removing the ‘Japan’ category from a few video websites isn’t really of any consequence. As far as I can see, there isn’t any mass removal of Japanese content on these video sites (see Youku, for example), it just appears to have been pushed out of view. But if you consider the other reports of Japanese book bans and newspaper seizures (news of the latter coming today as well), it makes you wonder what could come next.
Could we begin to see Japanese web content soon fall victim to China’s Great Firewall? Earlier this summer we saw Japanese ‘co.jp’ domains briefly blocked in China. Was that outage a test of something to come later?
Let’s hope not.