China Prepares to End Console Ban


China is getting ready to end its 13-year ban on gaming consoles, as long as manufacturers agree to build them in the new Shanghai free trade zone.

A new policy package endorsed by Premier Li Keqiang will reverse a ban on the production and sale of videogame consoles imposed by the Chinese government in 2000, with one condition: Console manufacturers must register in the new “free trade zone” in Shanghai, after which they would be allowed to sell their products in the country – subject to product-by-product approval from “culture-related authorities.”

“They still need approval from the culture ministry and other relevant government bodies for their products, which I think is reasonable, because the government wants to make sure the content of your games is not too violent or politically sensitive for young people,” a source who reviewed the policy document told the South China Morning Post.

Although game consoles are banned in China, they’re also primarily manufactured there. Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, makes the Nintendo Wii, while Flextronics builds the Xbox 360. Hon Hai is also one of the manufacturers of the PlayStation 3.

“The Shanghai free trade zone plan is strongly supported by Premier Li, who wants to improve China’s image as opening further to business under the new leadership (of Premier Li and President Xi Jinping),” a separate source said. “You may think the game console is a small deal in the whole policy package for Shanghai, but it’s an interesting instance showing how China wants to open up to foreign investors.”

China originally implemented the ban in order to protect young people from the unhealthy influence of videogames, but China’s young people were able to score some of that action anyway thanks to the advent of online and mobile gaming and a healthy underground market.

Source: South China Morning Post

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