China introduced a console video game ban in 2000, in order to preserve and protect the  “physical and mental development” of its children. Apparently, water and air pollution have no negative effects on China’s children so the ban was limited to video games in the Politburo’s infinite wisdom.

China game console

I can write that now that I no longer live in China.

China’s reason for lifting ban

According to the Wall Street Journal, this ban seems to have been lifted as part of the new free-trade zone agreement within Shanghai.

So there is no confusion, this was hardly a stringent or well-enforced ban, all it really accounted for was pushing Chinese gamers to PC games and portable gaming systems. At the end of the day, the ban was more protectionist, than looking out for the kids. At the time of the ban, both Sony and Nintendo (read Japanese companies) were battling with Microsoft for first and second in the console wars. At the risk of understatement, the Chinese hate the Japanese. Japan has occupied China twice in the last 100 years and resentments still remain prevalent.

Back to the (soft) ban, both Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) have released the PlayStation and Xbox in Hong Kong – and it hasn’t exactly curbed gaming in the region when bringing these consoles back to China was always quite easy.

Sony and Microsoft console sales

While the lifting of the ban is limited to Shanghai, both Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) or Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) could conceivably sell their consoles across China, provided its Ministry of Culture approves each device, the Journal said.

Consequently, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced that it would partner with BesTV in a partnership entitled “E-Home Entertainment Development.” BesTV will invest $40.29 million while Microsoft will invest $38.71 million in the venture.

Microsoft and Sony have big console launches on the horizon; the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are expected to launch in November. Microsoft has clearly made a shrewd move over its Japanese competition in teaming with a Chinese company.

Facebook and Twitter to access China

In addition to the lifting of the console ban in Shanghai, it’s rumored that access to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, and the New York Times will also be allowed following a blocking of the sites in 2009. Access to these sites is believed to only include the Shanghai Free Trade Area and not a nationwide policy.

According to the South Morning China Post, the move to unblock Twitter or Facebook inc (NASDAQ:FB) in the region is intended to attract foreign companies and workers to the region. Living as a minority in China is not easy, perhaps by lifting the ban China will make foreigners feel more “at home.”