China: Imported music must be approved by ministry



Imported music must be approved by ministry

The Chinese Ministry of Culture has said it must approve all imported network music distributed in the country, the official Xinhua news service reported on 12 December 2006.

‘Network music’ means music which is played on, and downloaded from, the Internet or provided by mobile phone servers. The rules are expected to make it harder to distribute any music judged by censors to harm “society’s public morals, or the nation’s fine cultural traditions”. According to the report, the Chinese Ministry of Culture stated that network music must be imported by “legal units” approved by the ministry only, or face punishment.

“A minority of internet music products have included content that violates national customs and habits, and disturbs social stability,” said the Ministry of Culture.

The rules restate a ban on foreign investment in companies involved in internet “cultural activities”. Establishment of foreign-funded network entertainment firms is now forbidden, while Chinese businesses working with network music must seek approval from the Ministry of Culture before 1 March 2007. From March 2007, an internet company that wants to make imported songs available on its website must first submit the songs on a disc to the ministry, along with copies of their lyrics in both Chinese and the original language. The Chinese names of songs must be used ahead of their foreign language names, the rules say. Websites that break the rules can be fined and shut down.

Restrictions on music

The Chinese government has long been wary of the individualistic and rebellious reputation of rock music. Rock in China was forced underground in 1989 after the bloody crackdown against student demonstrators, when ‘Nothing to My Name’, a song by Cui Jian, the grandfather of Chinese rock, became the national anthem of student protesters.

Afterwards, Cui, a trumpet player, was not allowed to perform at concerts and was even prevented by police from playing his trumpet in small jazz clubs in Beijing. The restrictions on Cui were recently lifted, but some rock concerts have been banned, lyrics censored and even the new Chinese edition of Rolling Stone was shut down after just one issue.

Imports of foreign music on tape and CDs have long been censored, and in April 2005, the authorities ordered the American rock band Rolling Stones not to play five of their raunchier tracks at their first Chinese concert. In October 2006, China’s Ministry of Culture cancelled the live debut of New York rapper Jay-Z in Shanghai, citing his “vulgar lyrics”.


Xinhuanet – 12 December 2006:
‘China tightens control on “network music” ‘

Canadian Press – 13 December 2006:

‘China tightens controls over Internet games, music industries’

Reuters – 12 December 2006:

‘China tightens control on network music: Xinhua’

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