Three horrible Chinese words - bu neng jieshou - mean 'cannot accept', or 'unreceptive'. Their nuance shades towards 'cannot get into' or 'figure out'. The phrase is all too often invoked during discussions of Chinese tastes for things foreign. It is the Great Wall of debate-stoppers, as if to say there are 5,000 years and 1.3 billion cultural barriers preventing acceptance. One major mainland promoter chose an odd time to drop the old chestnut. He was sitting in on a panel discussion with members of the French music industry - just before the Trans in China music festival - when he offered the opinion that Chinese people were not interested in foreign music. Other members of the panel were quick to rebut him. Beijing continually hosts successful events featuring foreign music, they noted. And what is 'foreign music', anyway, given the mixing of genres that occurs in every country. But the fact that he would say something like this at a forum in the French Cultural Centre points to an important challenge facing those focused on the ever-opening-up cultural market. For proof that Chinese audiences are interested in all kinds of music, one only had to point to the success of the music festival on the weekend following the forum. An audience of several thousand attended two days of rock, world music, tango- and jazz-laced electronic music and more. True, the crowd included an abundance of police officers - a part of any large-scale concert here. And it was a decidedly mixed, international gathering. The 120 yuan price was not unreasonable for such events, but it kept many Beijingers away. City residents are particularly reluctant to pay for events of any kind. And then there was the jieshou situation - as much a barrier as a cover charge. I think I understand what that promoter was thinking. He was wrong to say Chinese people are unreceptive, but I know why he thinks he's right. The audience clearly had a good time - in both rain and sunshine. Most had not heard the bands before, and may never hear them again. But they enjoyed the music and the atmosphere. The problem is not that Chinese people can't figure out foreign music. The problem is that too many of them seem trained to think they cannot enjoy or understand foreign music: those that come out to see it are just as receptive as audiences anywhere else. One can only hope the French music industry folks took that message home with them, rather than the producer's comment; and that they will bring it back the next time an event of such musical magnitude graces the capital.