Minitrue: Cool Down Videos of Martial Arts “Master”

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

In accordance with unified requirements from above, content on "Ma Baoguo" will undergo strict management across the whole site. Without exception, cool down related videos: stop emphasizing or recommending them, and remove them from search result rankings and hot topics. Also, for the near future, please attentively check all vloggers’ uploads for material focused on "Ma Baoguo." [Source]

These instructions appeared in an internal notice at an unspecified video website. South China Morning Post’s Xinmei Shen reports that Weibo and Bilibili have promised to restrict content on 69-year-old self-described Tai Chi master Ma Baoguo, who was accused in a recent People’s Daily article of "poisoning" Chinese values.

“If someone can make waves by grandstanding and expand their business by swindling and bluffing, what kind of value orientation is this?” wrote Qin Chuan, the author of the People’s Daily article. “For those internet platforms that crave traffic and fuel the flames, if they have a basic sense of social responsibility, they should immediately stop facilitating the spread of this kind of ‘disgraceful conduct’ and ‘farce.’”

[…] Ma, known for taunting and challenging other fighters online, gained notoriety in May when he entered a domestic tournament. Ma said on Weibo that he hoped to “defend the honour” of his craft, called hunyuan xingyi tai chi. Ma was quickly knocked unconscious in three strikes from his opponent, a former martial arts coach and amateur fighter. [Source]

As noted in CDT’s Censorship Digest for May, Ma’s attempts to spin this defeat earned him the dubious accolade of tongue-in-cheek nomination for transfer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Inkstone’s Qin Chen described widespread online mockery of Ma last month, noting that his 2017 claim that "I can defeat opponents much bigger and heavier than me with just one finger" "does not appear to have been an accurate statement." Yang Liu also examined Ma-focused memes and the state media-led crackdown in a post for Pekingnology, an email newsletter by Xinhua’s Zichen Wang. One popular catchphrase emerged from a January video in which Ma appeared with a black eye, explaining how he obtained it in a sneak attack by two young men.

Toward the end of the segment, Ma seemed to swell with emotion, accusing the young men of not following martial ethics and urging them to “keep a check on themselves”, though speaking with a slight accent, the phrase “keeping a check on oneself” sounded like “rat’s tail soup”.

[…] A search Sunday on Bilibili with the keyword Ma Baoguo only yielded a few dozens of videos, all of which echoed People’s Daily’s message, while a more precise search still showed the 29-million-view segment.

People’s Daily’s call was applauded by many Internet users — its post on Weibo denouncing Ma garnered 162 thousand likes. But not all comments supported the paper’s position, with some of the most upvoted expressing displeasure.

The paper is making too big a deal out of “a joke people are enjoying”, it should “rat’s tail soup”, one comment said. [Source]

In July, the Chinese Wushu Association issued a statement criticizing people who "proclaim themselves as ‘wushu masters’ only to pursue their personal fame through staging fights to get public attention, which will seriously damage the image of Chinese martial arts,” and urged practitioners not to use the title. The association’s former deputy president had previously called Ma out specifically.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.

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