A “blacklist” of 120 songs banned online in China was made public by the country’s Ministry of Culture on Monday. The list amounted to a who’s who of prominent Hong Kong and Taiwanese artists as well as up-and-coming independent musicians in the mainland.

Actor and singer-songwriter Anthony Wong Chau-sang, a vocal supporter of 2014’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, was one of the local artists to secure a place on the list.

Ministry of Culture blacklist
The Ministry of Culture announcement about the blacklist. Photo: PRC Ministry of Culture.

Ostensibly promulgated to “purify the online music market” by penalising tunes that “promote licentiousness and violence, incite criminal behaviour and endanger social ethics”, the list also targeted Taiwanese stars MC Hotdog, Stanley Huang and Ayal Komod.

One of the banned songs is MC Hotdog’s hip-hop hit and karaoke favourite “I Love Taiwanese Girls,” featuring the memorable line, “I don’t like prissy Chinese ladies, I love Taiwanese girls, may they reign forever.”

YouTube video

Noting that the list includes dozens of tracks from underground Beijing rappers MC Han & Song and Yin Tsar, one web user sarcastically thanked the government for bringing local artists to the national spotlight. “I look forward to the Ministry’s continued efforts to promote good music,” he wrote.

According to culture minister Liu Qiang, the songs on the blacklist will be wiped from the nation’s karaoke systems and forbidden from public performances.

The songs will also be barred from broadcast or download online, and are not allowed to appear in any audio-visual products or electronic publications.

On popular mainland news portal NetEase, reactions to the story have been mixed. Whilst many questioned why certain songs were deemed inappropriate, the top comment read, “This time I support the Ministry of Culture in banning these songs.”

Despite well over 3,000 netizens partaking in the discussion, however, only a little over 200 were allowed to appear on the website’s comments section.

On Taiwan’s Apple Daily news site, the most popular comment noted that “this is the difference between communism and democracy.”

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others