China orders 'patriotic' anti-fascist series on TV

BEIJING - China has ordered the country's television broadcasters to air "patriotic" or anti-fascist series for two months from September, reports said, stepping up its propaganda efforts amid disputes with Japan and ahead of national holidays.

Such programmes are already a staple of Chinese television, but news portal Netease, citing unnamed industry insiders, said satellite channels - which are all controlled by provincial governments - had been ordered to broadcast them in prime time until the end of October.

The National Day holiday, which marks the founding of Communist China in 1949, falls on October 1.

"Patriotic" dramas "probably" include those with themes of defending the country, creating a business, ethnic solidarity and family relations - but excluding fights between relatives - said a Shanghai satellite television staffer, according to the report Wednesday.

Chinese censors hand out regular but often vague instructions on what can be published, or not, to all kinds of media outlets across the country.

"Anti-fascist" refers to the fight against Japan and Germany during World War II, the staffer said, adding: "Anti-Japanese series are surely counted as part of it." China and Japan have a bloody history, and are currently embroiled in a bitter territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

China's film industry is subject to strict censorship, leaving only a limited number of subjects directors can focus on, with the Japanese invasion of China arguably the safest and most politically acceptable topic.

In a sign of the volume of such dramas, earlier reports said a Chinese TV extra was cast as a member of the Japanese forces more than 200 times in 2012, sometimes dying on set eight times in a single day.