Regulating Political Symbols: China’s Advertising Law and Politicized Advertising

Xin Zhao

University of Hawaii

Jeff Wang

City University of Hong Kong


Total advertising expenditure in China reached $120 billion in 2009 (Ng, 2010), making it the fourth largest market in the world. And that figure still is growing, with cautious predictions that it will bypass the United States to become the largest advertising market by the mid-twenty-first century.

Almost as impressive as the increase in advertising expenditures is the growth in the number of cases of banned advertisements due to political and ideological incorrectness in recent years, even as China has transitioned from a communist country to a consumer society (Li and Shooshtari, 2006; Zhao and Belk, 2008). Despite years of practice, advertisers still find it challenging to react properly to the governmental regulations (Weber, 2000; Wang, 2008).