‘Tank Man’ missing at Cirque’s Jackson tribute show in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 7:38am

The Beijing-banned image of the iconic Tiananmen "Tank Man" protester which shocked an audience in the capital earlier this month was nowhere to be seen in Cirque du Soleil's performance of its tribute to Michael Jackson in Hong Kong last night.

Eyes as well as ears were on the alert as the Jackson track They Don't Care About Us - during which the politically charged image was shown in Beijing - boomed out.

But the French-Canadian art troupe didn't show the image in a place in China where it is not banned.

The troupe was reported to have shocked its audience when it displayed the highly sensitive image of an unarmed protester blocking tanks taken during the 1989 June 4 crackdown in front of 15,000 people during its performance in Beijing on August 9.

But the image was deleted for the rest of its Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour shows in Beijing and Shanghai.

Yesterday the track was played with the screens flashing images of ruins and crowds of apparently non-Chinese protesters which lasted for several seconds. But the iconic image of the "Tank Man" could not be spotted.

"It was a little disappointing not to see [the controversial image]," said Sarah Cage, a designer. "But I think the point has already been made when it was displayed in Beijing. It really doesn't matter whether they show it here."

But another audience member said she was not looking for the display of a single image.

"It is not necessary for musical shows to turn political," said Joey Fung, a part-time dancer and Jackson fan.

"It was a good show with spectacular featuring effects and hot dance. This is really a nice way to remember MJ. I had a very happy time tonight. "

The group performed the first of its five shows in Hong Kong's AsiaWorld-Expo yesterday featuring the musical legacy of the "King of Pop", who died in 2009.

The house was 70 per cent full when the curtain opened.

At the time of the incident in Beijing, the tour's publicist, Laura Silverman, said it appeared to be a blunder by mainland censors that caused the controversy as the troupe had submitted complete details of the show for approval, as required by the Ministry of Culture.

Other famous artists have fallen foul of Chinese censors in the past. Shortly before the Olympics in 2008, the Icelandic singer Bjork called for Tibetan independence during a concert in Shanghai, and in 2011 US singer Bob Dylan dropped some of his more controversial songs from a Chinese concert.