China’s Ministry of Culture announces new licensing rules on cultural professions

China’s top cultural officials announced at a meeting in Beijing yesterday that the country would institute a new licensing system this year for employment in the cultural sector. Reportedly in the works for five years, the system would mean those employed in close to 30 cultural areas, including the cinematic arts, dance and singing, would be required to undergo professional examination and apply for government-issued licenses.

The purpose of the new system, said officials, was to “raise the level of and character of the cultural industries and their practitioners to satisfy the [goal of] building an advanced Socialist culture.”

Details of the licensing system were not yet available, but Chinese Web users heaped criticism on the new procedures in postings following news coverage at major Web portals.

“I’m sure this is just finding a reason to take money!” fumed one Web user. “Regulations like this are clearly a step backwards, the kind of thing we’d expect to see during the planned economy era. That government offices can think up such policies to suit their own interests, it really makes one doubt their ability to lead!”

Wrote another:

This is a terrible regulation! If you talk about doctors, lawyers, engineers or teachers then requiring a professional license for employment is necessary. But requiring documentation for singing and dancing is too much and inhibits the development of the cultural spirit. True art is of the people, created by the people and belongs to the people.

Others expressed concern that the licensing process would make it impossible for talents like Yang Liping (杨丽萍), a popular singer and dancer from China’s Bai minority, to break through the barriers to success:

If this was how things worked [before], Yang Liping and others like her wouldn’t have had any way of getting out there.

MORE SOURCES:
Propaganda head Liu Yunshan promotes commercialization of media to strengthen China’s ‘cultural soft power’

[Posted by David Bandurski, April 19, 2007, 10:39am]

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