China: Once banned Taiwanese singer regains popularity



Once banned Taiwanese singer regains popularity

Beijing officials who seven years ago banned the music of pop star Chang Hui-mei, better known as A-mei, now use her name to improve political ties between mainland China and the small island of Taiwan, reported Reuters on 13 September 2007.

By Martin Buch Larsen, Freemuse

Taiwan’s top pop singer A-mei has sold more than one million records across the Chinese-speaking world, but in May 2000, after she had sung the national anthem at the inauguration of Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian, she was totally banned from performing and selling records in China, and radio stations in mainland China ceased broadcasting her music – allegedly due to the previous tense relationship between Taiwan and China in which the latter fails to recognise Taiwan as an individual nation. Taiwan proclaimed its independence from mainland China in 1949.

As a consequence, the American soft drinks giant Coca-Cola was forced to drop a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in China which featured A-mei on the posters.

Since then Chinese politics have been in the process of change, and in September 2007, Reuters reported that Chinese authorities subsequently have written off the anthem incident as a “misunderstanding” in order to improve the political ties with its former rival. Reuters’ journalist, Ralph Jennings, was told this by assistant director of Xiamen University’s Taiwan Research Institute in China, Li Peng.

Concert cancelled again
In June 2004, A-mei was forced to cancel a concert in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou after a protest accusing her of supporting Taiwanese independence. About 100 Chinese ultra-nationalists held up banners and chanted “Oppose Taiwan independence, unify China!”

In August 2007, these sentiments appear to have vanished. Following the release of her latest album, ‘A-mei Star’, A-mei appeared on Chinese state tv and performed in front of 80,000 people at Shanghai’s largest concert hall. More China concerts are planned in the coming months, as A-mei brushes off her one-time ban and links up with a large number of local musicians in mainland China.

The incidents from 2000 and 2004 have not scared off Taiwan’s best-selling pop star, and she continues to express her thoughts and feelings about her country of birth, Taiwan:
“I wouldn’t dare to say I can do a lot, but at least when I perform or when I go abroad to do promotions, I do introduce Taiwan,” A-mei stated in her interview with Reuters.

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Reuters – 13 September 2007:
‘Once banned Taiwan pop star re-emerges in China’

The free encyclopedia Wikipedia – continously updated:

Historical change for China’s musical theatre

Chinese leaders believe the British producer Cameron Mackintosh is bringing a revolution to China by introducing the Chinese audience to Chinese versions of West End and Broadway musical hits such as ‘Cats’ and ”Les Miserables’.

China’s biggest performing arts agency, China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG), affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, wishes to bring Western classic musicals to China.

“Hopefully, as the [assistant] minister kindly said, it will be a complete change in culture in China,” Cameron Mackintosh said at a press conference, referring to Ding Wei, assistant Minister of Culture, who said the joint venture had historical significance for the development of China’s musical theatre.

The first production, ‘Les Miserables’, based on Victor Hugo’s classic, will open at the new National Grand Theatre in November 2008, played in Chinese and with Chinese performers.

Chinese versions of other famous West End musicals will follow – including ‘Cats’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Mamma Mia!’, ‘Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Miss Saigon’, ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘The Lion King’.


Reuters – 17 September 2007:
‘Mamma Mia! British musical revolution comes to China’


Signs that censors may be loosening up

Some of the most subversive and hard-hitting rock and rap acts ever to play in China will headline the Beijing Pop Festival in September 2007. The censor’s permit process has become smoother, reports AFP.

Anti-establishment American bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Public Enemy, along with China’s legendary bad boy of rock and roll, the often-banned Cui Jian, will be headlining the two-day outdoor event in the capital’s Chaoyang Park.

Public Enemy, however, is featured as “PE” in the promotional materials for the festival, because the organisers found their full name a tough sell with politically conservative Chinese censors.

Cui Jian has regularly been banned from performing but the festival promoters said censors unexpectedly granted him permission to take the stage the Beijing Pop Festival. It will be the first time Cui plays to an open-air audience in Beijing since entertaining protesting students at Tiananmen Square in 1989, a feat for which he earned the everlasting disdain of Chinese authorities.

“We’ve tried to get Cui Jian on the bill before. He has been a tough permit for a lot of reasons, but this time we succeeded,” the festival’s British promoter Jason Magnus told AFP.

“The smooth permit process comes as Beijing prepares for the 2008 Olympics, an event for which China has promised greater openness,” writes Agence France Presse, AFP, on 7 September 2007.


AFP – 7 September 2007:
‘Festival brings rock’s bad boys to conservative China’

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