The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online.
Carry out a comprehensive cleanup of all content related to the band “Slap” (delete encyclopedia entries, search terms, videos, lyrics, and promotional content; delete topics and hashtags, shut down Baidu Tieba “topic bars,” and remove all related merchandise) and their songs (including “Red Child’s Eighteen Wins,” “The Eighteen Dark Arts of Master Bao,” “The Eighteen Generations of Uncle Pan,” “The Eighteen Hexagrams of Boss Bei,” “The Eighteen Prohibitions of Director Ma,” “The Eighteen Verses of Director Lang,” etc.) Content that exposes and criticizes [the band or their songs] will be allowed to remain online. (August 14, 2023) [Chinese]
Chinese cyberspace regulators have slapped the “new folkloric” rock band “Slap” (耳光乐队, Erguang Yuedui) with a comprehensive ban, decreeing that the band’s music, videos, lyrics, merchandise, and related content be removed from Chinese websites and apps. Formed twenty-five years ago in Baoding, Hebei Province, Slap is a five-person musical act known for their incisive, socially conscious lyrics penned by lead singer and lyricist Zhao Yuepeng. CDT has archived a fair amount of content about the band, including lyric translations, original Chinese lyrics, interviews and biographical entries, and concert videos. China Heritage Quarterly also has an excellent feature on Slap and their lyrics, musical stylings, and cultural significance.
This is not the first time that censors have targeted the band: their performance video of “Red Child’s Eighteen Wins” surged in popularity late this spring, before it was search-censored on Weibo. But this latest broad-scale ban originates from higher government authorities, and comes amidst more intense government efforts to exert control over cultural content, be it in music, film, comedy, visual art, or online content creation.
Examples include the Hebei Provincial Communist Youth League’s clunky attempt to co-opt Chinese rock’n’roll by completely rewriting the lyrics to the well-known rock song “Kill That One from Shijiazhuang,” turning a gritty tale of bad luck and crushed dreams into a paean to “positive energy.” There have also been incidents of cultural censorship related to perceived criticism of the Chinese military: fines and performance bans levied on the comedian Li Haoshi and his comedy studio, and Weibo censorship of Yue Minjun’s iconic “grinning soldier” paintings. In July, the Chinese Cyberspace Administration announced potentially wide-ranging new rules regarding independent online content creators. And just this month, fans attending a concert in Beijing by Taiwanese singer Chang Hui-mei (also known as A-Mei) posted on social media that they were prevented from wearing rainbow pride shirts inside the arena. These and other incidents highlight the increased assertiveness of cultural cadres and “wenguan” culture cops as they try to control and corral cultural expression.
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.