Every five years, Beijing welcomes more than 2,000 Communist Party leaders for the five-yearly National People's Congress. This year's NPC, which ended Sunday, touched on the typical talking points — major national issues were discussed, laws were passed and new leaders were brought up through the ranks.
But there was one major difference. This time around, the Chinese government was also trying to take sexy back.
In the weeks leading up to the NPC, China has taken "sexually explicit" television advertisements that feature push-up bras, shape-enhancing underwear and even contraceptives off the air.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) stated, "Commercials containing sexually provocative sounds or tantalizing language as well as vulgar advertisements for breast enhancement and female underwear are banned, effective immediately."
"Inelegant images" of "adult products … and other harmful ads pose a grave threat to society," SARFT detailed in its statement.
For some in Beijing, the sudden de-sexualization of the airwaves is not exactly shocking.
"This ban is not a surprise," said Hong Haolan, a graduate student in Beijing. "Regulations are changing all the time."
Peking University professor Pan Wei sees this ban as a reaction to an enforcement problem. "Television stations don't like following the rules," he said.
Pan, an expert in domestic Chinese politics, argues that policies against sex-related advertisements are longstanding restrictions. "They were loosely enforced before," he said. "The rules have been there."
No More Plastic Televised Plastic Surgery
Advertisements are not the only casualties. According to Reuters, China has also pulled the plug on "Beautiful Makeover," a reality show featuring plastic surgery operations, including a sex-change operation in southern Guangdong province.
Approximately one month ago, SARFT also removed 11 radio shows from broadcast in central and southern China for explicitly addressing sex or broadcasting material of an "extreme pornographic nature."
But to some, this ban does not matter much, if at all. Kara Watson, an American working in Beijing, believes that "it's too late and [the government] can't change this progression in Chinese culture."
Watson is convinced that sexual content will continue to be easily accessible, despite the change in policy.
"[Chinese people] download pirated American television shows like 'Desperate Housewives' … as well as read Cosmopolitan magazine," Watson said.