Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Bob Dylan banned from China

Bob Dylan has been banned from China, forcing him to cancel part of his Asian tour. Ever since Bjork called out "Tibet! Tibet!" after playing her song Declare Independence at a concert in China two years ago in Shanghai, China's Ministry of Culture has been wary of foreign artists. Guns n' Roses album Chinese Democracy has already been banned in the country and even the Wikipedia page referring to the album, as well as the title track, is blocked by the Great Firewall. 

Now the counter culture icon has been forced to cancel his concerts in Shanghai and Beijing after Chinese officials refused permission for him to play. The ban has also caused Dylan to call off his a second leg of his Asian tour, including stops in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong. According to The Guardian, the decision does not seem to be tied to the singers specific stance on Tibet, but rather because officials "appeared wary of Dylan's past as an icon of the counterculture movement".

Last year, Oasis was also denied permission to play in Shanghai and Beijing, after officials discovered Liam Gallagher played at a Free Tibet concert in New York with Blur and U2 in 1997. Dozens of bands have supported this cause and as such may never play in China. Songs For Tibet, organized in part by Sting, was released in 2008 in timing with the Beijing Olympics with the goal to "support peace initiatives and Tibetan cultural preservation projects important to the Dalai Lama". That featured acts from Damien Rice, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Moby, Alanis Morissette, Ben Harper and Rush. 

Others who may not find themselves in Beijing any time soon are the likes of Tom Waits, Foday Musa Suso, R. Carlos Nakai, Kronos Quartet and Anoushka Shankar who all appeared at the 2003 concert Healing The Divide in New York.

In June 1996 Tibetan Freedom Concerts saw The Beastie Boys joined by A Tribe Called Quest, the Foo Fighters, the Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement and Biz Markie. And the following year a repeat festival featured Blur, Michael Stipe, Bjork, Rancid and Taj Mahal. A third concert in 1998 held in Washington saw appearances from Wyclef Jean, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Verve, Kraftwerk, Pearl Jam and Pulp. 

While many of these artists' CDs are readily available in China, Beijing's paranoia about the influence of western culture seems to be extending beyond the blocking of websites [Telegraph / Chosun / Guardian]. In January this year the Killers cancelled their Beijing concert and other dates in Asia, though they said this was due to the death of a family member.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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