Beijing Targets Karaoke Songs to Protect National Unity

China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has included gambling mentions in its new blacklist that excludes certain songs from the country’s nearly 50,000 karaoke venues.

Karaoke Venues Required to Update Lists Before October 1 

China’s karaoke venues will be required to update their lists of songs by removing the ones with “illegal content” by October 1, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) announced today. The order demands the country’s nearly 50,000 entertainment outlets to review their music library of over 100,000 songs each as part of the government crackdown on potentially harmful musical content. 

Gambling references fall under the new requirements together with lyrics that propagate obscenity, violence, and other criminal activities. The blacklist will also include songs that ‘incite ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination, endanger national security or harm national honor and interests, or violate the state’s religious policies.’ 

China has previously banned songs from karaoke venues as well. In 2015, the ministry created a catalog of 120 songs that ”contained content that promoted sex, violence or crime, or harms public morality.” Various pieces, including “Beijing Hooligans,” “Suicide Diary” and “Don’t want to go to school,” had to be removed from streaming music sites and karaoke venues within 15 days, or else providers would face an unspecified “severe punishment.” 

The new rules will allow only “healthy” songs that “promote positive energy” to be played in the entertainment venues. In addition, the government is encouraging establishments to promote songs supporting the ruling party’s agenda. 

China’s Crackdown on Illegal Gambling Activities 

China has a long history of fighting illegal cross-border gambling. At a special meeting on combating cross-border gambling in April, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi outlined further plans to crack down on this activity. 

Minister Kezhi said China would destroy networks for fundraising and attracting gamblers, as well as take actions against companies offering internet services to online gambling sites. Plans to curb gambling activity include uncovering online payment platforms that are part of gambling and fraudulent fund services. Moreover, Kezhi threatened with severe punishments government officials who take part in and provide shelter for gambling groups. 

At the meeting, the ministry highlighted the investigation of 17,000 cross-border gambling and related cases, which resulted in the arrest of nearly 110,000 suspects. The operations also led to the dismantling of over 3,400 online gambling platforms, as well as over 2,800 illegal payment platforms and underground banks

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