Bjork, Harry Connick, Jr. and the CCP

Authorities are now saying that singer Bjork’s pro-Tibetan independence outburst during her concert in Shanghai last week will not affect performances by other foreign acts in China. From the BBC:

China’s Culture Ministry last week said it would tighten controls over foreign artists after Bjork shouted “Tibet, Tibet” at the concert.

Talk of Tibetan independence is considered taboo in China, which has ruled the territory since 1951.

But a senior Chinese official said on Thursday it would not affect visits by other artists ahead of the Olympics.

Yet during Harry Connick Jr.’s recent concert in Shanghai, he was apparently forced to play a set of outdated songs to meet the censors’ requirements. From AP:

Connick said Thursday he was forced to make last-minute changes to his show last weekend in Shanghai because an old song list was mistakenly submitted to Chinese authorities to secure the performance permit for the concert.

Authorities insisted he play the songs on that list, even though his band did not have the music for them.

Footage from the concert is on YouTube:

Meanwhile, on China Beat, Jeff Wasserstrom reflects on the history of politics’ intersection with rock n’ roll in China:

What are the lessons to be drawn by this brief look back at ’s role in Chinese political struggles and cultural upsurges of the late twentieth century—a history that has been documented in insightful and detailed ways by the likes of Geremie Barmé, Linda Jaivin, Andrew Jones, and Andreas Steen? It might suggest that the authorities are right to worry about what happens during pop concerts. I would argue, though, that the line running from Jan and Dean to Bjork suggests something a bit different. Namely, that China’s rulers want their country to be one in which world-class events take place routinely in the cities of their country, but also want those same urban centers to be kept free from unexpected forms of expression.

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