Karaoke in China: religious songs banned

The CCP issues regulations on a very popular form of entertainment. It is also forbidden to sing that Taiwanese girls are sexy.

by Zhou Wanglei

A karaoke place in Wuhan. “Sing it your way” —but only if the CCP approves the song (credits).

Chinese internet users scoff at the new karaoke regulations (even if their critical comments towards the authorities are quickly quashed). This is the “Regulation on the management of karaoke musical content in places of singing, dancing and entertainment” of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. As usual in China, a draft has been posted to solicit comments, but genuinely critical comments are usually ignored.

Karaoke is a huge phenomenon in China. There are more than 50,000 places offering karaoke, often open 24/7. China holds the record for the longest uninterrupted karaoke session (456 hours and more, or 19 days). Even malls have mini karaoke booths for those who feel the urge to perform.

Of course, such a massive phenomenon could not escape regulation and censorship by the CCP. According to the draft regulations, this was the fourth plenary session on 19e Party Central Committee which ordered to suppress inappropriate songs played in karaoke rooms.

Among the banned songs are those which “violate national religious policies”, which prohibit religious activities, symbols or propaganda outside the places of worship of the five permitted religions, or “promote xie jiao(That is, groups banned as “heterodox teachings”) or “superstition”.

Karaoke at Beethoven's Ode to Joy in Shanghai.  Will it be forbidden to promote spirituality or non-Chinese values?
Karaoke at Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in Shanghai. Will it be forbidden to promote spirituality or non-Chinese values? (Credits)

Songs “endangering national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity” are also prohibited, and past experience shows that this provision will be interpreted broadly. Among the songs that have already been banned is the hugely popular “I Love Taiwanese Girls” (我 爱 台 妹) by Taiwanese rapper MCHotDog, which playfully claims that girls in Taiwan are sexier than those on the mainland.

Instead, the regulations encourage karaoke venues to feature “progressive” songs extolling the CCP and “core socialist values.”

Ruth R. Culp