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Advertising laws in China that you should know

China advertising
Advertising laws in China that you should know - Advertising laws in China that you should know

As in all countries, advertising laws in China aim to protect users and consumers from possible deceptions or dangers of advertising in certain sectors. This is why some types of content and companies are regulated or prohibited in the Asian country.

In this article, we will see in detail the restrictions imposed by advertising laws in China, knowledge of particular relevance for anyone who intends to enter the Chinese market effectively. In addition, we will also see the specific advertising laws of each Chinese social network.

Knowing the advertising laws in China is especially relevant for anyone who intends to enter the Chinese market effectively.

1. Advertising laws in China

In addition to general regulations that everyone must follow according to the Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China, China also presents its own regulations and prohibitions specific to certain sectors, such as education, alcohol, or investments.

As for the more general advertising laws in China, which are practically the same as those imposed internationally, highlight:

  • All the numerical and statistical data must be represented in the advertisement and must have been obtained accurately.
  • Not allowed to attack dignity and products and services from other competitors.
  • The popup ads should be easy to close with just one click.
  • Advertisements for anything patented must indicate the type and number of patent.
  • Advertisements should be disclaimed as such and must be easy to understand

In addition to general regulations that everyone must follow, China also has regulations and prohibitions specific to certain sectors.

Advertising laws in China that you should know - Advertising laws in China

Regulated companies in China

In addition to the industries that are strictly prohibited from advertising in China, there are some that, although allowed, have quite strict advertising laws due to the cultural vision or potential risk of these companies, such as tobacco, investments, or alcohol.

Tobacco

One of the industries that is most regulated by advertising laws in China is tobacco, since they are the strictest in the entire Asian continent. All tobacco products, including brands, names, or any other related characteristics cannot be advertised in the media, social networks or public sites.

Furthermore, one of the main objectives of these tobacco advertising laws in China is that minors are not the target audience, nor do they have any advertising information on topics related to tobacco.

All tobacco products, including brands, names, or any other related characteristics, cannot be advertised

Alcohol

Regulations on alcohol advertising are common worldwide. However, in China, the restrictions can be considered stricter than most since said advertisements related to alcoholic beverages can neither promote nor incentivize consumption.

Alcohol - Advertising laws in China

Besides, dangerous activities under the influence of alcohol, such as driving boats, cars, or airplanes, cannot appear in advertisements according to advertising laws in China. The content of alcohol advertisements also cannot imply relaxation, reduced anxiety, or improved physical strength.

The content of alcohol advertisements also cannot imply relaxation, reduced anxiety, or improved physical strength.

Investments

Any advertising where there is an investment and investors expect the return of their money must warn of the warnings and potential risks when carrying out the said act and the ban on guaranteeing the maintenance of funds.

On the other hand, investment announcements cannot include images of institutions, academics, beneficiaries, or industrial or professional organizations that recommend said service or product.

Investments - Advertising laws in China

Medical care

Prescription medications, except narcotics and those for use by medical professionals, can only be advertised in medical and pharmaceutical publications. Other special medicines may not be advertised, including narcotic, radioactive, or toxic drugs, among other medicines that can only be used by professionals.

Medical care- Advertising laws in China

On the other hand, advertising of products or services may not be published in mass media, including, medical equipment, beauty, online games, among others, that may impact the physical and mental health of minors.

Companies banned in China

According to the law, the government has strictly banned any companies that are related to the following categories that we present below:

  • Violence.
  • Pharmaceutical products or substances that can cause addictions.
  • Pornography.
  • Everything related to superstitious advertisements.
  • Terror.
  • Games of chance.
  • Obscenity.

The government has strictly prohibited advertising by companies that are dedicated to anything related to violence, pornography, terror, gambling, superstitious advertisements, obscenity or pharmaceutical products.

Companies banned in China - Advertising laws in China that you should know -Companies banned in China

Additionally, some companies are banned from some platforms. In the case of Baidu Ads, many consider their advertising laws to be even stricter than those imposed by the government. Baidu ads prohibits the publication of advertisements by companies belonging to the following industries:

  • Medical devices and instruments.
  • Medical treatment and health.
  • Personal Hygiene. 
  • Sexually related products.
  • Auctions.
  • Virtual currencies.
  • Advertising that may affect political stability.
  • Franchise opportunities.

Regulations in collaboration with influencers

Suppose you are interested in collaborating with influencers to help promote your products or services. In that case, you must keep in mind that said influencer must have used your product before making any false claims, so you must provide the influencer with a sample of the products you are going to promote.

Additionally, before selecting the influencer, you will need to make sure that the influencer has not previously made any false statements or, if so, that he has not been sanctioned by the administration during the 3 years prior to his official appointment as an influencer. 

If you are interested in collaborating with influencers to help promote your products or services, you should keep in mind that said influencer must have used your product before making any false claims.

Finally, children under 10 years of age will not be able to be influencers who promote a brand.

If you are interested in collaborating with influencers to enter the Chinese market, you can contact InfluChina, a marketing agency in China that promotes the products and services of foreign companies in China through strategic collaborations with Chinese influencers.

Regulations in collaboration with influencers - Advertising laws in China

Content advertising laws

Advertising laws in China regarding advertising content are also numerous and independent of the platforms, since these are rules that will apply to every platform. The following contents cannot be present in the advertisements:

  • Use of the national emblem, the flag, emblem or military song of the People’s Republic of China.
  • The use of images or names referring to State organizations or to its workers.
  • You cannot make advertising content that attacks dignity or reveals secrets of the Chinese State.
  • As we saw in the first section, it is not allowed content related to obscenity, pornography, horror, violence, or superstitions.
  • Content that is prohibited discriminates against other races, religions or genders.
  • Any information that endangers the safety of some people or property is prohibited.
  • Words that imply superiority before other organizations, brands or state institutions.
  • Content that encourages not caring for the environment, cultural heritage or natural resources.

Advertising laws in China regarding advertising content are also numerous, and independent of the platforms, since these are rules that will apply to all platforms.

Advertising laws in China that you should know -Content advertising laws

2.Repercussions after violating advertising laws in China

The punishments for violating the Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China vary depending on the article. Fines can amount to 100.000 RMB for violations that are not seriously harmful to society. However, more severe violations can cost 3 to 5 times the advertising cost, with a minimum of 100,000 RMB and up to 1 million RMB.

Besides, if the company has 3 more illegal ads, you may be fined at least 1 million RMB and up to 2 million RMB at most. With this, your business license and advertising review approval document may be revoked, and renewal applications will not be accepted for one year.

On the other hand, if some institutions, such as medical institutions, commit an infraction of the type we are talking about, apart from the fines already mentioned, they can lose their professional license that allows you to practice.

3. Chinese social media advertising laws

Now that we know the advertising laws in China, both general and specific, we can emphasize the existing advertising regulations on the leading Chinese social networks, such as WeChat, Xiaohongshu or Douyin.

Advertising laws in China that you should know -Chinese social media advertising laws

Advertising laws Xiaohongshu

Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book, has advertising regulations that aim to ensure that the content advertised is true. In a similar way to the rest of social networks, terms that affect dignity cannot be used from other companies as “the best” or “number one”.

Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book, has advertising regulations that aim to ensure the accuracy of the content advertised.

Advertising laws Douyin

Douyin, a Chinese social network similar to TikTok, also has advertising laws that limit the capabilities of companies.

  • Sensitive content: Ads containing sensitive content may cause controversial issues in the community, so they are banned. Content included in this section may include images depicting violence, crime, fear or panic, or animal abuse.
  • Hyperbolic statements: Terms like “this product is number 1 in the world” are prohibited, as are other platforms.
  • Criticize the competition: Ads that undervalue the goods or services of other platforms are not allowed.
  • Sexually suggestive content: Any content that includes sexually suggestive actions, whether through gestures, clothing, or text, is completely prohibited. Also, you should not expose too much skin.
  • Illegal or dangerous behavior.
  • Violent scenes, which can cause negative feelings in viewers.
  • Content that discriminates against other ethnicities, races or sexes.
  • Display of content related to tobacco or alcohol (not in all regions of China).

Among the advertising laws in Douyin, the highlights are the prohibitions on using hyperbolic statements, sexually suggestive content, content that discriminates, and criticism of the competition.

Advertising laws in China that you should know -Advertising laws Douyin

Baidu Ads Advertising Laws

The goal of Baidu Ads advertising restrictions is to maintain a strict code of conduct. The use of terms that imply that what is being offered is the best and unique in the market is a type of behavior that is highly penalized and restricted on the platform.

In addition to the ads that we have seen that are prohibited, such as obscene or violent ones, Baidu Ads has restrictions for the following types of products or brands that will not be able to advertise on their platform:

  • Questions related to auctions.
  • Opportunities to establish a franchise.
  • Producers of sexual products.
  • Medical products.

The revocation of business license or loss of license To be able to practice in the field in which you work, there are possible sanctions for violating Baidu Ads advertising rules.

The goal of Baidu Ads advertising restrictions is to maintain a strict code of conduct

Advertising laws in China that you should know -Baidu Ads Advertising Laws

WeChat Advertising Laws

As we know what is WeChat, in WeChat advertising, the largest Chinese platform created by the giant Tencent, also exist specific advertising laws, the following being the main ones:

  • It is illegal to use absolute terms such as “better”, “higher quality” or “higher standard”.
  • Misleading or false advertisements can not be done.
  • No brand advertising may include fake patented products
  • The statistical data used in the advertisement, such as scale results or quotes, must be accurate and indicate the information’s source.
  • The advertisements that are easy to misunderstand by clients cannot be used.
  • It is completely prohibited to use third-party graphic documents without authorization prior to the company.
  • It is not allowed to infringe the culture or carry out any propaganda that could affect the reputation and security of the country and the State.

Additionally, WeChat limits launching high-risk ad campaigns, crowdfunding activities, advertisements that do not involve the purchase of physical goods, activities with undue interest, and advertisements that are not specific. 

Weibo advertising laws

Ads are not allowed on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social network similar to X, for entice users to click on ad content. On the other hand, advertising links or advertisements cannot be included in emails sent to users without their prior authorization.

Advertising laws in China that you should know -Weibo advertising laws

To avoid annoying Weibo users, an option to close pop-up ads, which means you can easily close ads with one click.

Ads are not allowed on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social network similar to X, to entice users to click on ad content

On the other hand, advertisers are also prohibited from using unfair competition methods, such as blocking competing ads on some applications or network devices, according to Sina Weibo regulations.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions about advertising laws in China

If you are interested in effectively advertising in China, you can contact InfluChina, an agency that promotes foreign businesses in Asian countries through Chinese influencers.

If you want to advertise in China, you can contact InfluChina, a marketing agency that promotes foreign companies in China through strategic collaborations with influencers.

WeChat is the largest Chinese social network, created by Tencent, and has functions from chatting with acquaintances to making mobile payments.

China’s general advertising laws prohibit advertisements related to violence, horror, pornography, gambling, pharmaceuticals, obscenity and superstitious advertisements.

Advertising in China is similar to that in the West, but more importance is given to famous figures as influencers.

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