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Godfather of Beijing’s Indie Music Scene Dissects China’s Experimental Soundscape

By Malcolm Surer
Michael Pettis is owner and founder of one of China’s biggest indie-rock record companies, Maybe Mars, and a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. Photo: Ma Minhui/Caixin
Michael Pettis is owner and founder of one of China’s biggest indie-rock record companies, Maybe Mars, and a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. Photo: Ma Minhui/Caixin

China’s alternative-punk music scene has evolved from a genre that represented the rebelliousness of a niche group of well-off educated urbanites to one that’s international, hip, and popular. Chinese bands now play to sold-out gigs not only in old “hutong” bars in Beijing, but also at some of the most popular clubs in New York.

The Chinese capital was a rock-free zone until the mid-1980s. But it’s underground music scene today runs the gamut from hip-hop to grunge to noise.

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