BEIJING — China's Ministry of Culture has ordered music download sites to delete songs by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, the Backstreet Boys and other pop stars within two weeks or face punishment.
The ministry posted a list of 100 songs – including Lady Gaga's "Judas" and Perry's "Last Friday Night" – that had to be purged from the Chinese web because they had never been submitted for mandatory government screening.
Six Lady Gaga songs in all were on the list, all from her latest album. The 12-year-old ballad "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys was also targeted. Dozens of Hong Kong and Taiwanese pop songs and a few Western hits were listed as well.
The ministry said the rule was meant to preserve China's "national cultural security."
Sites were told in the Aug. 19 announcement posted to the ministry's website that they had until Sept. 15 to carry out "self-correction" and delete the songs. It said violators would be punished, but didn't outline the penalties they would face.
It didn't say that the listed songs were objectionable, just that they had not been approved for distribution.
The Chinese government carefully screens the content of imported entertainment content for political messages or commentary that runs contrary to its official line.
Foreign music acts in particular are believed to receive special scrutiny after Icelandic singer Bjork shouted "Tibet!" during a 2008 concert in Shanghai after performing a song titled "Declare Independence."
China claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and that Beijing's tight control is draining them of their culture and identity.