Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism crack down on karaoke bars, create “blacklist” of unapproved songs

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No freedom songs.

Chinese authorities have announced a “blacklist” for karaoke songs that will go into effect in early October, according to state media.

“The list includes songs whose content endangers national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity; violates China’s religious policies and propagates cults and superstitions; and advocates obscenity, gambling, violence and drug-related or inciting crime, ”Xinhua said earlier this week. , citing the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The government has yet to release the list.

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China has tens of thousands of karaoke halls, some packed with private rooms where bands can sing their favorite songs without being shy in front of strangers. Many have wall-to-wall TV screens, lighting, and waiter service inspired by nightclubs and libraries of over 100,000 songs.

Local people performing karaoke in a tent on a street in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon Peninsula.  Hong Kong
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Local people performing karaoke in a tent on a street in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon Peninsula. Hong Kong
(iStock)

Beijing previously banned around 100 songs in 2020, according to the South China Morning Post. Their names included “I Love Taiwanese Girls”, “Fart”, “Beijing Hooligans” and “Don’t Want to Go to School”.

Under the new plan, individual sites will be responsible for monitoring their offerings, according to the newspaper.

The Chinese Communist Party is known to heavily regulate content it deems inappropriate, ranging from anti-government criticism to pornography.

“Dictators are paranoid, and President Xi [Jingping] fears his own people more than anything else, ”Dr Matthew Kroenig of the conservative foreign policy think tank Vandenberg Coalition told Fox News on Thursday. “We’ve seen this across the board, the crackdown in Hong Kong, the genocide in Xinjiang, cracking down on private educational institutions in the last few weeks alone, because he’s afraid of what these private professors might say to his people.”

The crackdown on karaoke is more or less the same, he said.

“It is really a movement in a totalitarian direction trying to control all aspects of society,” he said.

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Kroenig, also a government professor at Georgetown University, served in the administrations of Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, where he worked against China, Russia and Iran. He published a book last year on the resurgence of Chinese authoritarianism under President Xi Jinping: “The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy Against Old World Autocracy in the United States and China ”.

“We were hopeful that as China got richer, it would become more cooperative and more democratic,” he said Thursday. “And under President Xi, China has moved in the exact opposite direction. “

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And its behavior on the world stage can be baffling for the international community, especially for capitalist and democratic nations.

Earlier this year, Chinese rival Uber Didi made an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Soon after, the Communist Party cracked down on the company, costing investors a lot of money and costing the company itself much of its own value, Kroenig said. The Party also ended a planned IPO for Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s e-commerce company, Ant Group.

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“In the west, it looks like self-defeating, confusing behavior,” he said. “And I think the way you understand it is that Xi isn’t on Wall Street. Xi doesn’t care about economic performance the most. He does care about total control.”

He called the Communist Party leader the most powerful in China since Mao Zedong.

“In the past, we viewed the Chinese Communist Party as a government led by a one-party state, a group of politburo men making the decisions,” Kroenig said. “But now it’s really Xi who is pulling the strings, and dictators are sometimes paranoid.”

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