China to begin reviewing all song lyrics for 'inappropriate' content

Song lyrics found to be vulgar, violent, or in otherwise poor taste are now facing removal from Chinese Web sites, the Chinese Ministry of Culture has announced.

Starting December 31, every piece of music on Web sites hosted in China needs to be approved by the Ministry of Culture before it can be made available to the public. Even songs which are not in Chinese must be translated and submitted to the government.

China's Global Times newspaper said this week that a "fast track" system will be in place where reviews will be completed in as few as three days. Since one of the main objectives is to squash negative foreign influences, Chinese user generated content (songs, video, etc.) will not be included in this review, the ministry said.

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The review board weighs the lyrical content against the "Interim Provisions on Administration of Internet Culture, article XVII (original text here). Under the article which was adopted in 2003, roughly ten types of content are outlined as inappropriate for "Internet culture."

Unacceptable content is now defined as content which:

  • goes against the basic principles established by the constitution
  • endangers national unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity
  • discloses state secrets, endangers state security, or harms national honor and interest
  • incites ethnic hatred or discrimination, undermines national unity, or infringes upon national customs and habits
  • advances evil cults and superstition
  • spreads rumors, disturbs social order, or undermines social stability
  • promotes obscenity, gambling, violence, or otherwise abets criminal behavior
  • insults or slanders others, infringes upon legal rights and interests of others
  • goes against public morality or the nation's cultural traditions
  • goes against other laws, administrative regulations or state-instituted prohibitions

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