Live streaming platform Douyu to enforce ‘patriotic education’ after state criticism

China’s leading e-sport live streaming platform Douyu announced yesterday to close the channel of popular live streamer Chen Yifaer for distributing content that insulted historical facts.

The platform also said it would initiate patriotic education covering all live streaming channel owners. This will include visits to revolutionary sites and history museums regularly to help improve the streamers’ awareness of historical responsibility, according to Tencent-backed Douyu.

“Patriotic education with new media such as Weibo and WeChat” has been an often repeated goal since China’s Ministry of Education launched a campaign targeting Chinese youth in 2016. And the country is seeing increasing penetration of the campaign. In the past few months, China’s media regulators have been tightening its content examination. Yesterday, China’s leading video platform and Z-generation community Bilibili promised to fully cooperate with authorities to crack down illegal and improper content.

Live streamer Chen Yifaer (陈一发儿) landed in hot water after netizens reported her to authorities. Local internet content and security department of the police in Jiangsu province published a release on Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo stating that in 2016, Chen joked about historical content including the country’s war trauma (in Chinese).

During a live streaming session, Chen mentioned the Nanjing Massacre (also known as the Rape of Nanking), a mass killing during China’s war with Japan in WWII that is often studied with the Holocaust in world academia.  Major media outlets’ official accounts including People’s Daily reprinted the release from the police.

According to a video of Chen Yifaer’s comments, which the police put on Weibo for public reference, Chen happily said, “Japanese katanas are so fast and cruel!” She also made comments in a relaxing and joking way when referring to China’s territory loss of three northern provinces during the war.

Chen then issued an open apology statement on her Weibo where she has 5.03 million followers (including those who started to follow her for any shut-down follow-ups). Chen said what she did was “very wrong”, noting that she didn’t intend to “hurt anybody.”

Chen Yifaer’s Statement of Apology. Image Credit: Chen Yifaer/Weibo account

A part of internet commentators expressed anger towards Chen’s words but, on the other hand, suspicions were raised over the netizen(s) who reported Chen to police. Some Weibo commentators questioned why the insulting content didn’t receive any official criticism or punishment at the time when it was published in 2016. The 2-year time lag is not acceptable without an explanation, some have noted.

Douyu is also reported to be in preparations for an IPO in the US. Following local regulation and sustaining a stable business performance would be crucial to assure the finance market’s confidence in Douyu.