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Daily Drip

China’s Youngest Boy Band Disbands Over Social Media Pushback

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Chengdu-based boy band Panda Boys, made up of members ages 7 to 11, was disbanded last week, according to the group’s agency, Asia Starry Sky Group (ASE). It had been only four days since the band’s debut.

The group, originally named “Tianfu Boy Band,” first came to the attention of the public when the boys performed in Chengdu on Friday, August 20. The announcement received swift and strong backlash on social media, with netizens accusing the agency of using the kids as a “money-making machine.”

The average age of the members of Panda Boys is just 8, which is equivalent to the age of second graders (yikes!).

At 12 AM on August 24, ASE issued a response that it does not make profits from fan culture and capital operations. The company also announced it was changing the group’s name to “Panda Children’s Art Troupe.”

The statement came after the company’s first social media response on August 22, which stressed that it did not intend for the young band to go viral.

Within 24 hours of ASE’s second statement, the company announced that Panda Boys had disbanded.

Panda Boys

The average age of the members of Panda Boys is just 8, which is equivalent to the age of second graders. Image via Weibo

Multiple state media outlets criticized the formation of the band. CCTV said on Weibo that companies are hiring “child laborers” who haven’t completed the nine-year compulsory education, calling the move harmful to minors in the country.

The boy band’s debut came amidst increasingly strict regulation of the Chinese idol industry in recent months. The National Radio and Television Administration, which oversees all streaming shows, announced earlier this month that it would strictly monitor idol survival shows.

Earlier this year, Beijing banned minors from attending idol shows.

The increased regulation has been precipitated by an uptick of unsavory incidents within the country’s idol industry. The CEO and founder of popular streaming site IQIYI, Gong Yu, said on August 25 that the company would suspend idol survival shows in the next few years.

IQIYI’s most famous idol shows, including Youth with You and Idol Producer, have been top-rated among fans while also being criticized for spreading values such as “money worshipping” and “idol worshipping.”

Some also compared Panda Boys to similar groups that use youth training models, where members start in the industry at a young age. TF entertainment, for example, popularized boy bands like TF Boys and TNT, which had an average age of 13 and 18 respectively when they debuted.

However, with an average age of just 8, Panda Boys was too young for most netizens, possibly becoming the “shortest-lived” boy band in China’s history.

Cover image via Weibo

Yiwen Lu
    Yiwen is a student journalist studying Economics and Political Science at the University of Chicago. She was born and raised in Shanghai.