Music download sites in China have until September 15 to remove songs by pop stars such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and the Backstreet Boys from their databases.
China’s Ministry of Culture posted a message on its website calling for music download sites to remove songs that had not gone through compulsory government inspection. Failure to do so, it warned, would result in unspecified punishment.
Lady Gaga’s song Judas and Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night were both on the list provided by the Ministry, as well as the 12-year-old hit I Want it That Way by the Backstreet Boys. Also on the list were pop hits by artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
While the songs in themselves were not offensive, the Ministry said that they had not been “approved for distribution”, echoing the scrutiny that foreign music faces in China.
The Ministry claims that it is acting to protect the country’s “national cultural security”. However, foreign media outlets such as the Associated Press claim that foreign music is under strict surveillance ever since Icelandic singer Björk shouted “Tibet!” after her song Declare Independence at a 2008 concert in Shanghai.
While China asserts that Tibet is a part of the country, there are a significant number of Tibetans who oppose Chinese control of the country and contend that Beijing’s control of the country is depriving them of their culture and identity.