What We Can and Can’t Print In China

What We Can and Can’t Print In China

We print in China. That occasionally causes a problem with creators that are working with nudity, religious or ideologically-sensitive content.

Obviously, the list of things that can be printed is much longer than the list of things that can’t be printed. (Pictures of puppy dogs? Sure. Skyscrapers? Sure.). But no one ever asks whether they can print puppy dogs or skyscrapers! So we’ll use this page to address the things that we get questions about. You can always contact us if you have any questions regarding your content.

The first thing to know: Hey, edgy content doesn’t bother us

Our US team is very open-minded and quite hard to shock. We’ll be happy to look at your artwork and tell you if it’s in-bounds or out of bounds. Don’t be shy – send us your questions and we’ll clarify. There are a few firm rules and lots of guidelines that are subject to interpretation. When we get questionable artwork, we’ll send it to our team in China and they’ll have a look at it.

Why we don’t print questionable material in China:

The laws on acceptable content in China force compliance on the printing company. That is,  you as a creator aren’t going to get in trouble if you print pornographic material in China, but the printer could be fined or even lose their business license if they print inappropriate material. Printers aren’t going to risk it.

What can’t be printed in China?

Here are some broad categories for your consideration. They’re not exact, and there may be exceptions up or down. Give us a shout if you think that you’re in a grey area.

Content that can be printed:

  • Books with religious themes or messages as long as the content isn’t written in a language common in China / tries to prostletize Chinese readers. (So far, English-language Bible stories haven’t been a problem.)
  • Vulgar language
  • Representations of famous naked artworks (think pictures of Michelangelo’s David.)

Content that we’d need to review

We’ll have to look at the content before telling you that we can print it. In some cases, we actually pass the work to the printing company and they run it by their local printing bureau that maintains the most up-to-date interpretations.)

  • More-specific religious references. (We had a client that printed a religious history of a Western Asian religion; the printer that did the work went to the local government and got permission to print the history.)
  • Realistic nudity
    • Realistic nudity is a “general” no rather than a “hard” no
    • Our general rule of thumb is if it would be covered by a swimsuit, it needs to be covered in your artwork.
    • Think of it like this: if it’s NSFW, it’s NSFPNCP (not safe for PrintNinja’s Chinese Printers)
  • Non-realistic Cartoon nudity
    • A naked human, drawn manga-style, without any gratuitous shading is probably fine
    • We did a book where the creator drew a series of dogs that were shaped like penises; this was deemed acceptable to print in China
    • Naked zombies may be OK in a couple of panels but not OK in a whole book about naked zombies. (It would depend on the zombies!)
    • We generally haven’t had trouble with representations of female nudity above the waist.
  • Art nudity (naked model in a photograph, turned away) may have a slightly wider berth if it’s artistically presented

Things that can’t be printed:

  • Hardcode pornography (of any persuasion – photographic, illustrated, vector,etc.)
  • Bibles (as in the King James version)
  • References to Taiwan, Tibet, or other areas that are politically sensitive to China
  • Documents that would appear to be anti-Chinese government (hard to pin this kind of content down, but it’s not common)

The final word

See how there are lots of grey areas? If you have questions, send us your artwork and we’ll have a look.

Did we answer all of your questions?

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