Chinese Government Targets Music and Podcast Streaming Apps Now

By Bill Toulas / July 1, 2019

Internet access in China has just gotten a little bit worse after the Chinese government decided to order the termination of 26 music and podcast streaming apps. The official explanation for this action is that several of those apps spread “historical nihilism” and “pornography”, and while some of the platforms may be permitted again after the relevant talking with the regulators takes place, most of them will be banned in the country. Some of the apps that have been confirmed as part of the group are “Douyin” (Chinese TikTok), “Kuaishou”, and “Soul”.

Some of these apps have received government-issued directives in the past as well, while others have gone “silent” without official announcements or explanations, or were simply kicked out of app stores of popular manufacturers such as Xiaomi. Podcast apps that host talks and possibly contain political or social discussions are particularly risky for the Chinese authorities, as they can express views that oppose the interests or position of the government, or even promote critical thinking in the society. It is no wonder why these apps were targeted now that the total number of listeners in China has surpassed 400 million.

Chat-themed podcasts, however, were not the only type of audio apps that were targeted this time. Weirdly, the Chinese authorities also expressed their rage against music streaming service apps. It is not known which apps these are, but users are already reporting that NetEase Cloud Music, Lizhi FM, and Himalaya FM have been removed from the app stores, and a message of urgent maintenance is the only explanation given by them. Apparently, as more and more artists express their stance against the repressive government, music streaming apps become platforms of unwanted criticism and fosters of notions of non-accepted personal freedoms.

The NetEase platform, for example, was recently forced to remove the songs of Li Zhi, a folk musician who is known in the country for speaking out his thoughts against repressive policies through his lyrics, as well as during public statements. The 41-year-old man has even gone missing recently, and the many thousands of his fans don’t even know what happened to him. Simultaneously, his WeChat profile was deleted, and all of his music (multiple records) has been removed from virtually everywhere in China.

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