The government, which stages such spectacles every few months, called it the largest-ever public destruction of illegal CDs, DVDs and other videodiscs.
China is a hotbed of intellectual-property theft, and officials have long promised to crack down on the problem. The country's admission into the World Trade Organization in 2001 came with increased obligations to ensure that such practices are targeted and eliminated.
"We're trying to carry out the spirit of our smuggling crackdown and to show our determination to the international and domestic communities," a top customs official identified as Mr. Gui said on China Central Television's national evening newscast.
"We have attached great importance to protecting intellectual property rights," Gui said.
CCTV ran footage of noisy wood-chippers — what the official Xinhua News Agency called "pulverizers" — swallowing discs by the hundreds and spewing the remains of movies and music onto sidewalks and parking lots.
More than 600 people, including consular officials from the United States and Australia, were invited to a ceremony in southern Guangdong province's Shanwei city, where 26 million illegal discs were shattered, Xinhua said.
It said 1.2 million illegal "audio and visual products" were destroyed in Beijing, the capital.
More than 95 percent of the discs were smuggled into the country, while underground manufacturers contributed the rest, according to Ma Zhengjie, an official in charge of the capital's campaign against pornography and illegal publications.
Counterfeiting from China costs Western businesses an estimated $16 billion in sales each year, trade groups say. The problem has so vexed American manufacturers that it almost led to trade sanctions against China in the 1990s.
So far, more than 140 illegal disc-production operations have been raided by Chinese authorities, Xinhua said Tuesday.