Despite Bjork outburst, shows must go on

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 March, 2008, 12:00am


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Icelandic singer Bjork's political outburst at a Shanghai concert this month was an individual case that would not affect Beijing's policy on inviting foreign artists to perform in the country, a cultural affairs official said yesterday.

'It's an isolated case and individual behaviour, which we didn't hesitate to criticise,' Vice-Culture Minister Zhou Heping said on the sidelines of the National People's Congress.

'But it won't affect China inviting foreign artists and artistic groups to perform in the country - especially during the Olympic period.'

Mr Zhou's comments came after his ministry promised last week to tighten control over invitations for foreign artists after Bjork shouted 'Tibet, Tibet' at the end of the song Declare Independence at her concert in Shanghai on March 2.

The ministry posted a statement on its website last week claiming Bjork's words 'broke Chinese law and hurt the Chinese people's feelings'.

The song 'didn't get the approval' of authorities and 'caused dissatisfaction among the public', the vice-minister said.

He went on to warn foreign artists to 'obey Chinese laws' and 'understand the Chinese people's feelings' when performing on Chinese soil, adding that it was 'part of professional ethics' for every artist to do so.

The singer has also used the song to promote independence movements in places such as Kosovo.

Mr Zhou said it was known by all, including Iceland, that Tibet is 'an inalienable part' of China.

'No countries acknowledge Tibet as an independent state,' he said.

Chinese censors routinely vet performance lists, and even foreign artists' wardrobes, before giving concerts the nod.

The last time this was an issue for a major event was in 2006, when the Culture Ministry ordered the Rolling Stones to drop some of their racy hits, such as Brown Sugar and Honky Tonk Woman, from their Shanghai show.

The censors also scrutinised the wardrobe of US pop singer Britney Spears when she gave a concert in Shanghai in 2005.