Apps hosting pornographic comics thrive despite government crackdown

2 min read
A screenshot of the ‘Wawu Comic’ app. (Image credit: Tony Xu/ TechNode)

Two apps that include pornographic comics have somehow survived several rounds of internet cleanup campaigns, and have been profiting from charging readers for accessing their illicit contents, according to an investigation by media outlet Beijing News.

The two apps, called “Wawu Comics” and “Jipin X Comics” offer users a few free chapters before starting to ask for in-app coins that can only be purchased with real money, according to the report.

“Wawu Comics” charge 50 in-app coins, worth RMB 0.5 (about $0.07), for one chapter in a comic series. Comic series in the app generally contain 25 to 50 chapters, which means the total cost for users to finish a series ranges from RMB 12 to RMB 25. Another option users have is to pay a yearly VIP membership for RMB 399 that gives them unlimited access to all content.

Beijing News also found that all comic content in the two pornographic comic apps originated in a single overseas website. The report did not identify the country of origin. When contacted by the Beijing News, that website said that it was aware that its contents had been pirated and added that it was exploring ways to address the issue.

Pornography of any kind is illegal in China, and according to the country’s criminal law, the production, duplication, publication, sales, and dissemination of pornographic materials could result in severe punishments, including life sentences in prison.

Besides pornography, content regulators in China also have a track record of clamping down on sexually suggestive and “lowbrow” content. The Cyber Administration of China, for instance, has shut down 9,300 apps for spreading vulgar content as part of an internet cleanup campaign at the beginning of January. Live-streaming rules released by the Hubei provincial government in January also targeted sexually provocative behaviors in live-stream shows, prohibiting female livestreamers from wearing overly revealing, transparent, or tight clothing.

Perhaps the most recent effort to rule out content considered to be inappropriate was the official Weibo account of the cyber police of Maoming, a city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, that characterized a video of a Chinese bodybuilder posing in a bikini “pornography.” The cyber police have reportedly since apologized privately to the athlete.

As of writing, neither “Wawu Comics” nor “Jipin X Comics” could be found on the app stores of iOS or Android. Searches on Chinese search engine Baidu for “Wawu Comics” return no relevant results, but links to the installation file of “Jipin X Comics” can still be found.

The “Wawu Comics” app is, however, still up and running. A resized version of it can still be found by searching on Google and is accessible even without a VPN if a user knows the website’s address.