BEIJING — Chinese punks were astonished today after their government officially repealed the long-standing policy of penalizing citizens who play in more than one band, Beijing sources report.
“There comes a time when we must examine the choices made by our forebears and determine whether they truly support the growth and development of Chinese punk,” said Minister Xu Exiang of the National Band and Gig Planning Commission. “This policy was born of the fear that oversaturation could lead to an unsustainable musical landscape. As harsh as it seems, we can’t blame our predecessors for wanting to forge a future in which no basement-venue thrash show would ever be overbooked at the last minute.”
“However, times have changed,” Xu continued. “If we are to compete with the hot shit coming out of the West, every Chinese citizen must do his or her duty by playing in as many cheesy metalcore acts as possible.”
While the government’s announcement received effusive praise from the international community, many commentators still harbor grave doubts about the future of the Chinese scene.
“This is welcome news, but the damage is already done,” said China analyst Pegah Fardeen. “The one-band policy has dramatically disrupted scene demographics: Chinese culture has always privileged guitarists over their peers, and the guitar-playing population has exploded. Now, an entire generation of musicians is searching fruitlessly for drummers, whose limited numbers are concentrated in the overcrowded rehearsal spaces of urban centers.”
At the ground level, Chinese punks are similarly ambivalent about their futures in the newly deregulated Chinese scene.
“Don’t get me wrong — a world of possibilities just opened up, and I’m excited about it,” said Shanghai bassist Qiao Lingxin. “My father started four power trios by the time he was my age, and I’ll finally be able to carry on his legacy. But I can’t help feeling like this is just the eye of the storm. It’s only a matter of time before the government tries to regulate our DIY spaces or push state-sponsored crowdkilling techniques. You saw how they came down on the Hong Kong crust scene — the same thing is bound to happen here.”
At press time, Chinese officials refused to comment on whether this policy change would result in leniency for the thousands of ska musicians currently being detained as enemies of the state.