Hainan cracks down on nonconsensual filming by livestreaming hosts on Sanya beaches

Society & Culture

By now, it’s well known that there is no limit to the lengths that Chinese livestreaming hosts will go to. We’ve seen fame seekers scaling skyscrapers without proper safety measures. We’ve seen women completely altering their appearances using powerful filters. And some of them are more annoying than others — like the streamers using Sanya, a popular beach resort in Hainan Province, as a backdrop of their shows, which often involve them harassing and taking nonconsensual footage of tourists.

As tourist complaints continued to pile up, Sanya recently decided to take some action, announcing that it would initiate a crackdown on streamers who engage in improper behaviors such as catcalling female passersby and making physical contact with tourists without their permission.

The announcement was made in a document released last week, in which the local tourism bureau labeled those behaviors as “illegal harassment disrupting the order of Sanya’s tourism market.” The local government also announced a three-month campaign to achieve a “comprehensive improvement” by having more law enforcement officers on patrol and toughening punishment for severe offenders.

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As per the Voice of China (in Chinese), prior to the crackdown, Sanya was the hottest new and affordable travel destination among Chinese streamers. A quick scan of the Sanya location tag on livestreaming platforms showed that dozens of hosts had filmed themselves hitting on women, talking to tourists, and singing with amplifiers on the beach. According to Sòng Xiùjūn 宋秀军, a manager of a local travel agency, the complaints filed by tourists were mostly about noise and the infringement of their privacy. “One time there were more than 200 streamers on the beach. In addition to harassing our customers, they also affected our operation,” Song told the publication, adding that another key issue is the low-brow nature of their content.

When talking to the news outlet, several tourists who had interactions with the streamers voiced their support for the crackdown. A tourist surnamed Zhao said that his sister was followed by a streamer who insisted on interviewing her when they traveled together in Sanya. The streamer didn’t put down his phone until Zhao threatened to call the police. Another female tourist told the reporter that she had encountered a few livestreaming hosts who put her on camera without asking for her consent. One of them even approached her to show lewd comments by his viewers. “I’m not at all against livestreaming, but this is horrendous,” she said.