China is set to ban all karaoke songs with “illegal content” from karaoke venues across the country. The ban with the blacklist will come into effect from October 1, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The Ministry further claimed that content that jeopardises national unity, violates state religious policies by propagating cults or superstitions, endangers ​​sovereignty or territorial integrity or which promotes illegal activities, including gambling and drugs will be included in the ban. 

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Interestingly, due to a massive music library of more than 100,000 songs, it will be difficult for venue operators to recognise illegal tracks. Therefore, content providers to the venue are expected to flag the songs as per the blacklist, as per the ministry’s official website. 

China intensely controls content that includes violence, pornography, or politically sensitive commentary from social media and websites. The country has punished live streaming to video platforms for hosting content it sees in “bad taste” in recent months. 

The chinese government had earlier planned a crackdown on songs that were subversive in 2020 too. 

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“Targeting karaoke song libraries is part of a broader attempt to extend the Chinese government’s vast information control system into every facet of the entertainment industry,”Angeli Datt, a senior research analyst for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan at Freedom House had told the South China Morning Post. This came after the party’s centenary celebrations and were speculated to have been out of insecurity and concern about dissent.

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“In proposing to ban songs on national security or ‘violating social ethics’ grounds, authorities will censor content that it deems foreign, religious, or politically sensitive while trying to promote a traditional and conservative culture with the party at the centre.”

Karaoke is often seen as a distraction from government’s failures. “The extension of censorship and attacks on freedom of expression to these new frontiers signal ongoing CCP nervousness about any avenues for domestic dissent,” Datt said.