China rocker Cui Jian quits CCTV New Year gala after protest song rejected

Cui Jian had planned to sing 'Nothing to My Name,' which became the unofficial anthem for demonstrating students during the deadly 1989 Tiananmen protests

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 11:44am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 5:26am

A mainland rocker known for his rebellious style will not perform at a state broadcaster's variety show for the Lunar New Year after the organisers turned down his song choice, according to his manager.

Cui Jian had proposed to sing his 1986 song Nothing to My Name at China Central Television's January 30 gala show, but the event's censors told him he would have to choose another song, his manager, You You, said on Friday.

The song became the anthem for demonstrators during the 1989 Tiananmen protests.

Cui decided to quit the show because he did not want to sing another song, You You said. "It is not only our regret, but also the gala's," the manager said. "Cui Jian has his fans all over the world, so his stage is far beyond the CCTV gala."

Cui fell out of favour with Beijing after he sided with the Tiananmen protesters, but received an invitation this year from CCTV to perform at the annual show.

Since its inception in the early 1980s, the show has become a staple for the holiday celebrations, although it has become widely mocked for its cheesy performances and stilted staging, prompting organisers to hire popular film director Feng Xiaogang to direct this year's gala.

Known as the godfather of mainland rock, Cui won fame in the late 1980s with songs such as Nothing to My Name, voicing the hopes and anxieties of a generation of Chinese entering adulthood after the death of Mao Zedong and the end of orthodox communism.

During the 1989 protests, Cui performed at Tiananmen Square for students on a hunger strike, days before the government launched a crackdown.

Watch: Godfather of Chinese rock, Cui Jian, asks why Hong Kong doesn't 'get' good music