Rumours have abounded online after an entertainment news source reported that Chinese censors were cracking down on love affairs between gods and mere mortals.

The Weibo post that set off the rumours. Photo: Weibo.

Romance between the gods and mortals is a theme as old as mythology itself—from Zeus’s romps down Mount Olympus to China’s own Nu Lang and Zhi Nu, celebrated each year on “China’s Valentine’s Day” Qixi.

According to “TV Paradise” on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, however, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television is flexing its muscles yet again by “strengthening controls over historical fantasy.”

What’s really keeping Niu Lang and Zhi Nu apart. Photo: HKFP.

The SAPPRFT directive reportedly claims that new historical fantasy series Good Bye My Princess “distorts history” since “immortals and humans cannot love each other.”

A promotional poster for Good Bye My Princess. Photo: NetEase

Although this sounds fantastical, even mainstream news sites are still on the fence about whether the new guidelines are genuine or the work of a rumour-monger’s imagination.

Considering that Beijing has recently banned time travel and ordered the Dalai Lama to reincarnate, sifting fact from fiction in China can be a Herculean task.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others