China is an interesting place, filled with history, culture, and some weird and wonderful things that cannot be found anywhere else. The country is unique in many ways, and a visit here will offer the chance to see an upside down house, or unusual architecture, like a building designed to look like a blooming lotus.
For Westerners, China tends to be a place where travelers should prepare to see the unexpected and to visit with an open mind, but there are also some things that cannot be found in China. Many of these things seem completely normal but have been banned because officials didn’t think they met their guidelines, and censorship is a pretty big thing in China -- with everything from video gaming consoles to certain books sometimes being put on a blacklist.
Other things you won’t find in China could be because they simply don’t appeal to the Chinese market, or if they are available, they are really hard to come by. And then, there are even celebrities who are not allowed to visit the country because of their previous bad behaviors, or a role that they played in a film which left a sour taste in the mouths of the Chinese government. Below are 20 things that you won’t find in China.
20 You Also Won't Find Justin Bieber In The Country Because Of His Past Antics
In keeping with celebrities who are banned from China, we bring you another, Justin Bieber. As for what Bieber did that was so wrong? Well, it turns out it was not a single incident but multiple. According to The Culture Trip, in 2017, Bieber was banned from entering China because of his behavior in the past, including his trouble with the law.
This made him unsuitable, and according to Beijing’s culture bureau, despite being a talented performer, Bieber is “also a controversial young foreign singer.”
19 There Are No Las Vegas-Style Casinos In China, In Fact, Gambling Is Not Legal
Don’t expect to see big casinos in China, in fact, don’t expect to be able to gamble at all, because according to World Atlas, it's banned in the country. Gambling was banned in 1949 and is illegal in all of mainland China. But, while you won’t find any Las Vegas-style casinos, there is a large network of underground casinos, especially in Macau.
The publication notes that officials have started trying to put an end to these illegal underground casinos.
18 Fans Of Time Travel Films Will Be Particularly Disappointed
A lot of films require parental guidance or are deemed unsuitable for some audiences because it conflicts with their beliefs, but it may seem strange that films about time travel are what find themselves on China’s banned list. The reason, according to Listverse, is because these movies are historically inaccurate and the government did not want to insult the history of China.
The ban was first placed in 2011, and the publication notes that it was at this time that time travel films were popular in the country, and showed individuals transporting back in time to Ancient China.
17 Up Until Recently, You Couldn't Get Your Hands On A Video Gaming Console (And Some Games Are Still Not Available)
For Christmas, there were probably many boys and girls who requested video gaming consoles so that they could play their favorite game. But gaming consoles, up until recently, were banned in China because of the content of many games, which the Chinese government believed to be unsuitable, Mental Floss reports.
Ranker elaborated on this point, noting that the ban was first initiated in 2000 because officials were concerned about the effect that certain games could have on children. The ban was lifted in 2015, although some games remain on the no-go list.
16 The Jasmine Flower Cannot Be Sold, Purchased, Or Worn
Jasmine flowers smell lovely, and the tiny white flower is pretty to look at, but don’t expect to be smelling or seeing it in China. According to Mental Floss, a “vague” ban has been placed on the flower at markets, but officials have also removed mention of it in text and video.
The reason, according to the publication, has something to do with the “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia, and it believed that officials did not want the ideologies to inspire others. Ranker notes that the flower and the plant cannot be “sold, purchased, worn, or discussed.”
15 'Avatar' Was Not Shown, Unless It Was In The 3D Cinemas
The 2009 fantasy film, Avatar, cannot be watched in the normal cinemas in China. The reason, according to The Epoch Times, is because of the political undertones of the film, which officials were concerned could be compared to the “communist takeover” in China. Interestingly, the film was only banned in 2D cinemas, but this is because there are apparently very few 3D cinemas in the country.
In addition to Avatar, many other major Hollywood films are not shown in China, and there is a limit to how many are released each year.
14 Sorry, But The Chinese Food As You Know It Doesn't Exist In China
There are many “Chinese” dishes that people in the Western world have come to love, except much of what we order on a night out doesn’t actually exist in mainland China. An example of this, according to The Culture Trip, is General Tso’s Chicken, which simply doesn’t exist.
It’s not the only one though, and This Is Insider notes that other things you shouldn’t expect to get at restaurants are Orange Chicken (a variation of General Tso’s Chicken) and Chinese or Asian salads. Also, fortune cookies are not considered to be Chinese and were popularized by American restaurants and have Japanese roots.
13 Brad Pitt's Choice Of Film Left Him With A Lengthy Ban From China
One of the more surprising things you won’t find in China is not a building or a banned product, it’s a banned person, and that person is Brad Pitt. The reason you won’t find Pitt in China dates back to 1997 when he appeared in the film, Seven Years in Tibet. According to The Star, the Chinese government is thought to have banned Pitt because of his role in the film, which portrayed Chinese rule in a harsh way.
However, good news for Pitt and his Chinese fans, because it seems his ban may have been lifted after more than a decade.
12 Cheese Is Hard To Come By, It Was Also Banned In Shanghai At One Point
Many Chinese individuals cannot eat cheese, and according to The Culture Trip, this is because their bodies cannot process dairy. Keeping this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine why cheese would be hard to find and unpopular in China, but what is interesting is according to the publication, officials in Shanghai took things a step further and in 2017, “instituted an import ban on cheese.”
It seems this ban did not last, but it's apparently still hard to find good cheese, and when you do, it’s going to be expensive.
11 Bizarre Buildings Are All Around, But They Won't Be In The Future
China is a country where you can find many weird and wonderful buildings, in addition to replicating buildings, and even cities, found elsewhere in Europe. But the ultra-modern creations may soon be a thing of the past because officials have passed a law banning construction of buildings that are deemed “oversized, xenocentric, weird,” Ranker reports.
According to BBC, in 2016, the “bizarre architecture” ban came into place and requires future buildings to be "economical, functional, aesthetically pleasing" and also "environmentally friendly.”
10 Overly Complicated Company Names May Now Be A Thing Of The Past (Thankfully)
When considering a name for a company, nothing too bizarre and wordy can be chosen and that is because it’s not allowed -- this hardly seems like a bad thing. According to CCN, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has started to restrict long names or super strange ones from registering.
So, while this may make things easier in the future, you’ll still find a few previously existing companies with lengthy names, including Shenyang Prehistoric Powers Hotel Management Limited Company, virtual reality company, What Are You Looking At Shenzhen Technology Co. Ltd., and Beijing Under My Wife’s Thumb Technology Co. Ltd., Fast Company notes.
9 There's A Massive Pad Industry, But You'll Find It Hard To Locate Tampons
Tampons are listed by The Culture Trip as one of the things that individuals should bring when they move to China.
China has a big pad industry, but the same cannot be said for tampons. Yes, you can find tampons in the country, but according to the publication, the standard is not great. And when you can find them, they are usually in tiny boxes with plastic applicators.
As for where you can find them? Apparently “most major drug and grocery stores do not carry them,” although they can be found at import stores.
8 Bitcoin (And Cryptocurrency In General) Is Not Allowed, Neither Is News About It
The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has become incredibly popular in recent years, and it’s worth a lot, but apparently, you won’t find it in China. In what is a pretty recent development, Ranker notes that as of 2018, China moved to block all websites that use cryptocurrency.
Bitcoinist also reports on the matter, explaining that “the Chinese government authorities have released an official order asking to ban all the cryptocurrency-related commercial activities and events.” And this includes news outlets related to the electronic cash.
7 Say Goodbye To 'Winnie The Pooh,' The Adorable Character Who Has Become An Awkward Symbol
For many, Winnie The Pooh is an innocent cartoon, but in China, a comparison between the character from the show and a photo of the country’s leader caused an upset. According to Ranker, because of this, mention of the show is no longer allowed, and it is considered a censored image on the Weibo platform.
The publication notes that as of 2018, the ban was still in place. The Guardian notes that the film, Christopher Robin, was also not shown in the country for this reason.
6 No One Is Able To Get The Perfect Instagram Selfie, Because Instagram Is Not Accessible
Many people spend time using the social media platform every day, but it seems that Instagram is not accessible in China. Media first noted that the photo-sharing site was not accessible back in 2014, with BBC reporting that it happened after a political rally in Hong Kong.
A BBC correspondent told the publication that it was common for China’s internet censors to block websites during political events, but the ban remained. Instagram now joins other apps like Twitter and Facebook, which users are also not granted access to, CNN notes.
5 And Finding A World Of Information Via Google Is Simply Not Possible
It seems a bit of a trend is emerging when it comes to online apps and their usage, but the search engine Google, a particularly handy tool, is also controlled by the country’s officials. According to CNN, the technology company has been trying to work with the country over censorship but little advance has been made.
Forbes explains that Google exited the Chinese market in 2006, and notes that it is a company that “will give up on its values to satisfy an authoritarian regime.”
4 Some Reading Material Just Didn't Make It Onto The Approved List
There are several things which the government officials have deemed to be unsuitable for the Chinese market, and it seems that in addition to some video games, certain books also have been put on the blacklist -- what is a person meant to do for fun here, I hear you ask?!
According to CNN, there is a procedure related to books, whereby China's General Administration of Press and Publication screens them first. China is a big market for books, so publishers are careful to adhere to the rules, and mostly the genres that are avoided tend to be about Tibet or politics.
3 What You Won't Find In China Is No Queues For The Doctor, Because Waiting In Line Is Commonplace
Depending on the country in which you live, you may be used to great public health care with little waiting time, but in China, this is not the case. At least, not with regards to the waiting time and according to The Atlantic, it’s pretty hard to get a doctors appointment.
Long queues at hospitals are a normal sight, and individuals are believed to get up early to stand in line for an appointment. The worst part is there are people who queue for a profession; these people get paid by working with hospital insiders to secure tickets for an appointment, allowing a patient to skip waiting in line.
2 You Won't Find The Word 'Disagree' Being Mentioned Online
If you’re disagreeable, we would have to find another word to describe you because some words in China are simply not allowed. According to Vox, in February of 2018, it was revealed that the word “disagree” was now illegal to post on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, along with “my emperor” and “Animal Farm” (and many, many others).
Ranker notes that the decision to ban a new wave of words happened when it was announced that there would be a move to end term limits for China's president. In May of 2018, the publication notes that even more phrases were added to the list.
1 And The Letter 'N' Was An Unpopular One, At Least For A Little Bit
There are many words in our vocabulary which are considered to be rude to say, but in China, it was a single letter that found its way onto the blacklist. According to CNN, the letter was censored after it was announced that the presidential term limits may change, and as mentioned above, many words were removed.
But why a single letter? Victor Mair, a professor of Chinese language and literature
at the University of Pennsylvania told the publication that it could be because "N" was “referring to the number of terms of office.” Also, what makes this letter ban different, is that it turned out not to be a permanent one, so, you may just see it in the text after all.
References: The Star, The Culture Trip, World Atlas, Listverse, Ranker, Mental Floss, The Epoch Times, This Is Insider, BBC, Fast Company, CCN, Los Angeles Times, Bitcoinist, The Guardian, CNN, Forbes, The Atlantic