Four months after Bjork’s controversial performance in Shanghai, the Ministry of Culture of the PRC issued a notice on July 14, 2008 to tighten the leash on commercial performance activities involving foreign parties and parties from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. The notice provides that a performance agency that has violated the Regulations on the Administration of Commercial Performances, the Regulations) is prohibited from holding any commercial performance involving parties from outside the mainland. The notice also stresses that the government will not allow any performance groups or individual performers to perform in China if they have taken part in activities detrimental to China’s sovereignty.

The notice is entitled the Notice of the Ministry of Culture on Strengthening the Administration of Commercial Performances Involving Foreign, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan Parties, the Notice). Both the Regulations and their implementing measures, the Measures) took effect on September 1, 2005, and the Regulations were amended in July 2008. In accordance with the Regulations and Measures, the Notice sets out specific rules to tighten the reviewing and approving process of performances involving parties from outside the mainland.

The Notice addresses the reviewing processes for different aspects of performance activities, including for the qualification of performance agencies, the content of the performance, and the qualification and credentials of the performance groups or individuals. For example, performance groups whose names include the word “Imperial” or “National” must provide effective evidence, i.e. documents, that they can justly use these words in the names of their groups. Under the Notice, licensed performance agencies that have not run any actual commercial performance activities within two years of the issuance of their licenses are disqualified from holding performances involving parties from outside the mainland.

In addition, the Notice states that that government follows the principle that the parties applying for the government’s approval of commercial performance activities are the responsible parties, and any related parties must allocate their rights, obligations, and liabilities accordingly. These related parties include the performance agencies, commissioned parties, and investors involved in certain performance activities.

The Notice stresses that contents of performances must abide by the principles set out in the Regulations, and additional performances or encores require government approval together with the main program and may not be delivered if not approved in advance.

The Notice calls for tightened supervision on performance tours. It also asks the provincial and local bureaus under the Ministry of Culture to prudently improve their supervision and recordkeeping of all types of performance venues by exercising on-site supervision or random checks.

The Notice suggests establishing a system of circulating notices of performance market information and a system of credit archives, which will further publicize the relevant bureaus’ approval decisions and facilitate reporting of violations.