China reportedly bans tattoos, hip-hop performances on TV shows
Chinese rap singer Zhou Yan, better known by his stage name GAI, performs during a New Year concert in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China December 31, 2017. Picture taken December 31, 2017. Photo: Reuters
China’s top media watchdog is reportedly tightening censorship on popular culture with bans on hip hop elements in TV shows, according to Chinese media. 
Chinese news portal Sina Entertainment reported (link in Chinese) last week that Gao Changli, director of the publicity department of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), China’s top media watchdog, outlined four “Absolutely Don’t” rules for radio and television stations in inviting guests during a meeting on January 19, which are:
Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the Party and whose morality is not noble; absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and kitsch; absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no style; and absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity.
It added that entertainers wearing tattoos, and elements from hip-hop culture, subculture (or non-mainstream culture), and demotivational culture (decadent culture) should not be used, either. 
The news came after a prominent Chinese rapper GAI was removed earlier last week from the hit TV music competition show, I Am A Singer, produced by Hunan TV. 
Although no official explanation was given on the removal of Zhou Yan, GAI’s real name, from the show, many Chinese netizens have speculated that it was linked to a recent issue in which another Chinese rapper PG One, whose real name is Wang Hao, came under fire for vulgar lyrics in his song, and an affair with a Chinese actress. 
PG One’s 2015 track “Christmas Eve” was criticized earlier this month for encouraging drug use and disparaging women, which faced a backlash from both netizens and Chinese official media.
State-owned Xinhua News Agency said in an online post that “the singer who disrespects the industry and the audience” doesn’t deserve to own the hip-hop stage.
Public criticism has forced PG One to issue an apology, who said the track was an “early influence of hip-hop culture and black music.” But it failed to satisfy some of the netizens who claimed that black music should not be blamed. 
Meanwhile, songs produced by artists from Hong Hua Hui, an influential underground rappers’ community in China, were also removed from many major Chinese music streaming platforms. 
But unlike PG One, GAI has been adjusting his style to become a mainstream artist. He made an appearance on I Want To Go To The Spring Gala, a variety show broadcast on China Central Television, last month, and made an impromptu performance in which he sang the words “long live the motherland”. 
Chinese rap singer Wang Hao, better known by his stage name PG One, performs during a New Year concert in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China January 1, 2018. Picture taken January 1, 2018. Photo: Reuters
Another rapper Vava was also hastily edited out of Hunan TV’s flagship variety show “Happy Camp” because of her association with hip hop culture. 
The hip-hop culture went mainstream in China last summer through a singing competition TV show, named The Rap of China, but recent crackdown on the nascent culture in the country, which has been brewing underground from the end of last century, has triggered some concern over the fate of the culture in the country. 
The state-run newspaper Global Times published an article on Sunday with a headline reading “Hip hop’s prospects in China seem dim after Chinese rappers removed from TV shows.”
On China’s largest social media, Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, users also expressed concerns over the future of hip hop in China.
“I’m so annoyed! Chinese hip hop just got started and there are so many excellent underground singers undiscovered. My heart is broken. What would be the future like for Chinese hip hop?” said @Wuyedige on Weibo. 
“Seriously, GAI is really a hip-hop artist with Chinese style, which is totally different from those I’ve seen before. I really don’t understand why China, which has been calling for solving problems case by case, would take a sweeping approach to hip hip?” another called @Mengyikun said.
“Leave what belongs to the underground underground. This society hasn’t wanted them to bring light to this world from the beginning,” Ketedelieqiang quoted Chinese rapper Ma Siwei as saying on Weibo.
It is not the first time for China to tighten censorship on Chinese musicians. In 2015, China’s culture ministry banned 120 songs, mostly rap, for “promoting obscenity, violence, crime or threatening public morality.”

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