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Now It’s Disney’s Turn To Have a Service Suspended in China

Characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear from the animated film "Toy Story." 1995Characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear from the animated film "Toy Story." 1995

Disney’s movies and cartoons are the latest foreign content to be targeted by Chinese regulators following harsher rules released last month for Western content in the country.

A joint-venture between Disney and Alibaba’s Tmall shopping platform to offer Disney’s content online has been suspended at the request of Chinese regulators, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Last week it came out that regulators had suspended Apple’s iMovie and iBooks services in the country. The same regulator was responsible for new rules instituted in March that were expected to put greater pressure on foreign entertainment amid President Xi Jinping’s campaign to promote Marxist thought and expunge Western ideology from entertainment, education, and foreign influence. The ideology has reared itself in odd and sometimes comic forms: a military newspaper recently denounced the Disney film Zootopia as propaganda for promoting the American Dream.


The suspended Disney-Alibaba joint project called DisneyLife was announced in December and included an over-the-TV-set, Mickey Mouse-eared device for $125 that connected users to Disney content and helped them plan trips to Disneyland parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Alibaba’s customer service was offering refunds on the device, the Journal reported, but the damage appears greater for Disney’s ambitions. Last year Disney launched the same device in the U.K., as Disney CEO Bob Iger has discussed giving consumers more options than a bundled-cable package to see Disney’s content including ESPN, Star Wars, and its television shows.