China’s Ministry of Culture on Monday released a blacklist of 120 songs that it claims promote violence and obscenity, and ordered website owners to remove them.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the songs were banned because they "trumpeted obscenity, violence, crime or harmed social morality," the Associated Press reported. China’s government maintains strict controls over online messaging and content, and media that is deemed to be socially inappropriate is often blocked or removed.
The ministry said that the songs went against China’s online culture management rules and added that any organization or individual who fails to comply with the takedown order would face "severe punishment."
The list includes several well-known Chinese songs, including some by Taiwanese pop singer Chang Csun Yuk and Taiwanese actor Stanley Huang. Xinhua added that the list will be updated and regulated.
The country has also cracked down on popular songs from the West, including several by well-known artists including Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce and the Backstreet Boys.
The country recently relaxed its censorship and monitoring of movies, no longer requiring screenplays to be submitted for official review before filming can start in the country. And, in a victory for free speech advocates, the country also recently warmed to Twitter with a new column launched in June on China’s state-run news agency discussing China-related content on the social media platform.