WTF?! The escalating trade war between the US and China is having unexpected consequences, including, it seems, blocking the Game of Thrones finale in China.
Streaming platform Tencent Video, which owns the rights to air GoT in China, didn’t show the final episode at its usual 9 am Beijing time yesterday.
An hour before it was due to be shown, Tencent used its official social media channels to announce the finale would be delayed due to "transmission medium problems." But HBO told the Wall Street Journal there were no technical issues, and that the real reason behind the delay was due to Tencent being restricted from airing it by the Chinese government—a result of the escalating trade dispute with the US.
Tension between the two nations reached a peak last week when Donald Trump declared a national emergency that effectively bans US companies from buying and using telecoms equipment from "foreign adversaries." Additionally, Huawei was added to a Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List, meaning US firms cannot do business with the world’s second-largest smartphone company without approval from the BIS. This has led to US tech giants including Google, Qualcomm, and Broadcom cutting ties with Huawei.
The Journal reports that Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows in China, with the most recent season being watched over 550 million times on Tencent Video.
Tencent said it would let viewers know when the latest episode is set to air, but never revealed when that might be. Until it does get shown, many Chinese fans are turning to piracy websites to discover the conclusion.
You can read about the petition to remake Game of Thrones’ divisive eighth season, and see reactions to the final episode, here.