Postcard from... Beijing

  • @cliffordcoonan

A film about a masked man taking on an authoritarian government with a violent campaign is precisely the kind of movie that would never stand a chance getting past the Chinese censor. But V for Vendetta was broadcast uncut on Friday by state broadcaster, CCTV.

"It's amazing," ran one of the comments on the Twitter-like Weibo service, where the broadcasting of the 2005 film was one of the most hotly debated subjects.

The move to show the film has prompted speculation that perhaps it is a sign that the new administration under Xi Jinping is planning a more liberal approach to broadcasting control. Given that censorship is often decided months before these movies are shown, it's unlikely, but it is either a sign the censor is opening up or a colossal error. The broadcast even included a line bound to send chills down the spine of an authoritarian ruler: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." Comments appeared to have been deleted later from Weibo, but the Shanghaiist website quoted various people stunned people by to the news, with many saying simply how amazed they were that such a film could be shown.

Other commentators who have the technological knowhow to get past the system of controls known as the Great Firewall of China took to Twitter and commented: "Could this be sign the new leadership team is really committed to reform? Or was it a mistake?"