A screenshot of Bilibili. Photo: Asia Times

Popular websites in China have deleted large amounts of foreign dramas and movies – action that has stirred considerable debate and comment on social media.

Netizens found that Bilibili, a well-known animation, comic and game (AGC) website, deleted a lot of shows, along with AcFun, which emptied the drama and movie section on its website late on Wednesday.

Screenshot of AcFun. Photo: Asia Times

The video-sharing website Bilibili also blocked some mainland dramas, such as the Dream of Red Mansion series directed by Li Shaohong in 2010, with only edited clips remaining.

These sudden moves aroused waves of discussion on Sina Weibo, the mainland’s Twitter-style service, as people complained that they had been blocked from much foreign broadcasting.

A Qdaily report quoted “insiders” who that the move by Bilibili may relate to copyright issues linked to foreign dramas and movies, but documentaries and reality shows were still available on its website.

Screenshot of Bilibili. Photo: Asia Times

Some netizens realized there had been signs that the government was tightening regulations on online streaming services, especially video products.

Foreign dramas like The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife were blocked back in 2014 from video sharing websites like Youku and Sohu as the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) is required to censor content before it can be broadcast on the mainland.

And online dramas like Go Princess Go and Addicted had content related to time-travel and homosexuality “cleaned up” in 2016.

Sina Weibo, AcFun and news portal iFeng.com stopped their video streaming services in June, as they didn’t have new licenses from the SAPPRFT to produce or air video and audio content.

Bilibili does have a new license, but has said that people uploading shows must register with their real names from July 5, the latest sign of greater supervision of the popular online entertainment industry.

Bilibili website had not responded to Asia Times’ request for comment on the material that disappeared from its site at the time of writing.

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