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China Culture Ministry: No More Strippers at Funerals!

Exotic dancers have performed at funerals to draw crowds.

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In China, it is seen as a sign of good fortune in the afterlife if large numbers of people show up to one’s funeral. In turn, that has developed a surprising cottage industry: Strippers available for funeral performances to draw in crowds. The Chinese central government, however, doesn’t look fondly such entertainment in times of grief and has threatened to stop stripteases at bereavement ceremonies.

Recent photos of a stripper performance at a funeral in Hebei generated a firestorm on the Chinese Internet, but Beijing has in fact been trying to eliminate the practice for some time now. The Chinese central broadcaster has aired specials as recently as 2006 on the phenomenon with a mind to discouraging the practice. The 2006 special found that funeral stripper troupes earn about $300 per show and can do as many as 20 per month.

“This has severely polluted the local cultural life,” CCTV said during the broadcast, according to the Wall Street Journal. “These troupes only care about money. As for whether it’s legal, or proper, or what effect it has on local customs, they don’t think much about it.”

During the recent Hebei performance that appears to have sparked the crackdown, six performers put on a show only to find themselves in violation of public security rules. The person responsible for the troupe was held for 15 days in jail and fined about $11,000.

China’s Ministry of Culture says it plans to work with police to eliminate such performances.

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering cyberspace, its conflicts, and controversies. @eliasgroll

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