Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

China Banning Buskers?

May 6

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5/6/2008 12:22 AM  RssIcon

Street musicians may be latest to go in Beijing spruce

The possible demise of busking in Beijing was the subject of an interesting article by Hung Daohen in the latest issue of Beijing Today, a weekend English language paper published by the Beijing Youth Daily, one of the city's more commercially successful dailies. Beijing security forces have begun moving on street performances, citing the city's loosely defined (as most Chinese laws are) and hitherto loosely implemented Regulations for the Management of City Apprearence and Environmental Sanitation, which allows police to fine and confiscate the instruments of performers for blocking passageways and "harming the city's image."

Lonely folk singers banging out their compositions on battered acoustic guitars are a frequent sight in the underground passageways under the city's massive, traffic clogged arteries. By not playing on the street they avoid the ire of the various city and military police and armies of country boys in security guard uniforms which keep public order in Beijing. Explaining the recent kicking-out of acoustic troubador Ga Lin from the city's busy Guomao station, subway management told Hung Daohen that busking "will easily cuase congestion at  the station and breach the outlook of the city."

It's another example of how anal local public security can be - another egregious example being a ban on bicycles from the doors of the city's new wave of pitifully ugly skyscrapers. The idea is the same: bicycles and buskers are somehow anti-developmental, whereas traffic jams and huge empty marble malls are signs of progress. It's a pity they weren't so keen on enforcing recent city promises to make people queue properly and stop spitting in subway stations.

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