Nike shoes and logos blur on Chinese broadcasts

China Xinjiang censorship

In the Ping Pong web series, the protagonist’s feet have been blurred. Photo: iQIYI

Chinese TV shows seem more and more blurry these days, and it’s not because of the slow internet connection.

The logos of global brands such as Nike, Adidas and PUMA fade on entertainment broadcasts after Beijing launched a campaign against foreign companies that pledged to stop using Xinjiang cotton.

A number of major fashion brands, including H&M, Nike and Adidas, have faced boycott calls in China since state media accused them of fabricating allegations of labor abuse in Xinjiang, as part of the government’s latest efforts to counter growing criticism over its treatment of Muslim minorities.

These companies distanced themselves from Xinjiang cotton last year, following accusations by researchers and human rights groups that ethnic minorities in the region were forced to work in factories connected to chains global supplies.

Beijing denies using forced labor and state-backed boycotts have fueled nationalist outrage online.

Chuang 2021 Tencent

PUMA logos blurred during Tencent Video Chuang 2021 boy group show. Photo: Tencent Video

Global brands, however, have numerous sponsorship deals with China’s sports and entertainment industries.

Several A-list celebrities immediately cut ties with brands to show their support for the government, but for web shows that have already been produced, the cheapest way to avoid political risk is to blur all logos.

Iqiyi youth with you

On a recent episode of Youth With You, each contestant has a fuzzy patch on their shirt. Photo: iQIYI/YouTube

Youth With You, a boy band competition show on iQIYI, delayed the release of its March 25 episode a day after state media began attacking global brands. By the end of the show, all of the Adidas logos on the contestants’ shirts were blurred.

In an iQIYI Ping Pong web series, the protagonist, a ping pong player, was seen practicing with fuzzy feet. It’s hard to tell what kind of sneakers he wore.

Tencent video roasting

Celebrities’ shoes were blurred on comedy show Roast. Photo: Tencent video

Many fans, accustomed to such censorship, thanked the editors for working hard to meet last-minute demands.

All entertainment programs must be approved by the government before they air, and streaming sites routinely blur items they believe may irritate censors, such as men’s earrings, hijab, rainbow flags and tattoos.

Compared to the entertainment sector, Chinese sports stars have remained largely silent on their ties to global brands.

Nike and Adidas have businesses with well-known athletes and state-run Chinese sports teams. During an Olympic qualifier on Thursday, China’s women’s soccer team wore Nike jerseys as they played against South Korea in Seoul.

It’s unclear if teams will still be able to use the brands’ products at the Tokyo Olympics.

Follow Viola Zhou on Twitter.