The new ban forbids vendors from selling foreign books (including children's picture books like Peppa Pig), comic books, video games, DVDs, CDs and cassette tapes — even if the government has approved them for circulation in the Chinese mainland.
Vendors who violate the new rules could face a 12 point deduction for each offense (and 48 points for more serious ones), seven-day suspension and possibly get their accounts shut down entirely.
Up until Friday, Taobao was one of the few places where users could search for overseas media without having to worry about censorship, particularly after Apple was forced to shut down iBooks and iTunes Movies last year. For a long time, daigou (overseas agents) were able to avoid import fees and flood the platform with foreign merchandise, often via Hong Kong.
In justifying the new restrictions, Taobao cited a 1991 customs regulation on incoming print material brought over by individuals or sent via post.
In addition to the new Taobao restrictions, video game sellers face a massive crackdown on other platforms. New measures state that video games can now only be sold through Chinese app stores and select game channels/retailers.
The move comes just days after Alibaba founder Jack Ma slammed fake goods and called for the criminal punishment of counterfeit sellers as officials meet in Beijing for the Two Sessions.
[Image via Money Pantry]