Minister slams "vulgar" modern Chinese culture

BEIJING Fri Aug 6, 2010 8:29am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - China's culture minister took aim at the country's booming broadcasting and publishing industries on Friday, saying much of what they produced was "vulgar" and "kitsch."

"We publish more than 300,000 books every year, but how many of them could be compared with the scriptures inherited from our ancestors?" Cai Wu told state news agency Xinhua.

"We produce some 400 movies and hundreds of TV drama programs each year, but how many of them will be recognized as classics?"

Too many Chinese publications fill their pages with "gossip and sensational stories that advocate money worship and consumerism," the report paraphrased him as saying.

"Vulgar publications" were an unfortunate result of China's market-oriented economic reforms, "where a profit-oriented system passed off cheap entertainment as culture," Cai added.

Local governments, he said, were partly to blame by spending money on vanity projects such as flashy new buildings, instead of basic cultural facilities.

"Some local governments and officials have neglected or ignored socialist cultural construction," Cai told Xinhua.

"In today's world, a country's culture and economy are inseparable. A government must pay more attention to culture and originality if it wants to improve the quality of economic development."

State media are still strictly controlled in terms of coverage of sensitive political subjects or disasters, but have far greater freedoms when it comes to lifestyle stories.

The government periodically cracks down on reality television shows or soap operas which feature sensationalist subjects like extra-marital affairs.

But many young Chinese also take to the Internet to watch far racier programs from political rival Taiwan.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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