BEIJING, March 24 (Reuters) - The Chinese capital has banned advertising hoardings that promote hedonism or the craven worship of foreign products in another sign of the authorities’ concern over public anger with growing social inequality in the world’s second biggest economy.
The campaign is to beautify the city and create a “fair and harmonious” environment, the Beijing administration said on its website.
Chinese cities periodically come up with similar schemes, though governments across the country, especially in the wealthy coastal areas, have sold off large swathes of prime land for upmarket shopping centres filled with luxury brands.
The latest regulations for Beijing, carried on the city’s industry and commerce administration’s website (www.baic.gov.cn), give advertisers until April 15 to clean up their act or face unspecified legal measures.
Advertisements that advocate lifestyles of “emperors and the nobility”, carry crude language or have “bad political tendencies” are out.
Also banned are the more complex, traditional form of Chinese characters, done away by the Communist Party in favour of a simplified script but seen by many Chinese as much classier due to their continued use in wealthy Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Outdoor adverts in Beijing do not tend to feature many luxury goods, but do often show scantily-clad women publicising new weight-loss methods or breast augmentation clinics.
Still, the government has been grappling with public anger at the growing gap between rich and poor, and also between the booming cities and the vast and underdeveloped countryside.
Rural incomes have been rising more slowly than urban incomes for two decades — a factor that could threaten social stability in a country where 150 million people still live on just $0.50 a day. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard, editing by Jonathan Thatcher)