China: Authorities stricter on foreign performers



Authorities stricter on foreign performers

Socalled ‘threatening’ singers or musicians are not welcome in China. “Any artistic group or individual who have ever engaged in activities which threaten our national sovereignty will not be allowed in,” the Chinese Ministry of Culture made it clear in a statement on its website on 17 July 2008.

The ban was extended to musicians and artists who “whip up ethnic hatred” during performances, or “undermine national unity, endanger state security, stir up ethnic hatred, violate religious policy and ethnic customs, advocate obscenity, pornography, feudalism or superstition,” the ministry’s circular added.

The announcement follows the banning of pop festivals and the tightening of rules on outdoor events in the months leading up to the Olympic Games in August – a sign of increasing nervousness over disruptions and embarrasments at live performances that could tarnish China’s carefully cultivated image of order and control.

Musicians in Beijing have gone into hibernation these months as live performances have been stopped in bars, and clubs have been suddenly told they need a live performance license.

The circular of July 2008 gave no names on any ‘black list’, but it stressed that all the information on entertainers and programs should be submitted in advance for approval. Even encores must be approved by the ministry in advance.

Sensitive Tibetan issue
The circular is perceived as a direct response to an incident on 2 March 2008 where the Icelandic singer Björk sang ‘Tibet, Tibet’ as she was rounding off a powerful and passionate performance of her song ‘Declare Independence’ at a Shanghai concert. Talk of Tibetan independence is considered taboo in China, which has ruled the territory since 1951, while opposition to China’s rule over the mountain region is a popular cause among artists and musicians in the West. In particular since the recent unrest in the area, China has drawn frequent condemnation from foreign artists, activists as well as governments.

As such, Björk can expect to find herself on a list of persona non grata in China. The new measures also apply to artists from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

The Chinese vice-minister of culture Zhou Heping said earlier at a conference that China still welcomes foreign entertainers and artists so long as they obey Chinese laws.

The Associated Press wrote that the ban was actually introduced already in 2005, and that the new notice acts as warning and reinforcement during the sensitive time only a few weeks from the opening of the Olympic Games.

Agencies that bring foreign performers to China will be banned for two years if they violate the rules, the circular stated.


Google News – continously updated:

Search: ‘China’ + ‘ban’

Xinhua Net – 18 July 2008:

‘China bans entertainers who “offend sovereignty” ‘

BBC News – 17 July 2008:

‘China ban for ‘threatening’ stars’

Associated Press – 17 July 2008:

‘China urges restrictions on performers’

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