On the morning of November 15, 2009, during Obama’s visit to China, all of sudden, 17-18 personnel arrived in a vehicle from the Cultural Market Management Bureau and raided our store. They claimed that our store is selling illegally copied music CDs. They searched every corner of our store including the toilet, and confiscated nine boxes full of CDs and other items. They accused us of not only selling pirated products but also being involved in smuggling these items.
The confiscated items were Mongolian music and traditional songs. Every year they come to raid us under the pretext of “cleaning up the cultural market”. We appealed to the authorities that it is not right to confiscate everything under the name of “developing Cultural Great Zone”. The reason for this is that the authorities have failed produce sufficient number of Mongolian CDs and other musical products to meet the demands of more than four million Mongolian people in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In fact there has been not a single authentic traditional Mongolian CD produced by the officially authorized producers. Four million Mongolian people need to have a way to meet their demand for Mongolian musical products. No choice, many Southern Mongolians managed to bring CDs from the independent country of Mongolia. This is a natural choice. Therefore, the authorities’ so-called “piracy” is in fact an issue of ignoring and disrespecting Mongolian culture in nature.
Recently, the Chinese authorities have carried out a so-called “Mongolian Cultural Great Zone Development” Project. Mongolian music is an important part of Mongolian culture, and should be given meaningful respect. Let me give an example, Mr.Lhaajab, the “King of Mongolian Traditional Song”, was not able to have a CD officially produced by the authorities before he passed away. Luckily, there have been many “illegal” producers who saved his masterpieces from being lost. The authorities’ disrespect towards Mongolian culture is a long standing serious problem. But it seems they do not care. They just come to raid Mongolian stores and confiscate Mongolian cultural products. Last year they did the same. They raided almost all the Mongolian stores, confiscated Mongolian publications and issued large fines to the store owners. This time, my store and another Mongolian store right next to us seemed to be the target. They also claimed to issue a 3000 yuan (approx 450 USD) fine to me after the confiscation. After that, for some reason, they did not come to us again. We are waiting to see what the authorities’ next step will be. If they continue to harass us, we all Mongolian store owners will write the higher authorities to appeal for our rights.
Many Mongolians felt it unfair that Mongolian culture is treated in this way that listening to their own native songs and music is considered “piracy and smuggling”. Others argue that if there is really such a responsibility for the “piracy” then the Chinese authorities should assume the responsibility because not only did they fail to provide the necessary service but also prevented others from providing this service.
If the authorities really respect Mongolian culture and carry out a meaningful implementation of the “Mongolian Cultural Great Zone Development” by providing better service of Mongolian music, no Southern Mongolian will “pirate” anything from Mongolia. Instead Mongolia will “pirate” from us.
I think the root-cause of this “piracy” issue is the authorities’ disrespect towards Mongolian culture. One more thing worth mentioning is that this time they primarily targeted our store. This is a part of their intimidation and harassment of me and my family. My store is the only store that has been raided twice. No Chinese store has ever been raided.
Another reason they raided my store is that they were searching for a book written by Mr.Bayantai. This book is about the Chinese Government’s genocide against the Southern Mongolians during the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Market personnel stated that this book has “serious political problems”.