Bon Jovi's gigs in China cancelled

To promote the band’s concerts in China, lead singer Bon Jovi (above) recently recorded a video of him singing a Mandarin cover of The Moon Represents My Heart.
To promote the band’s concerts in China, lead singer Bon Jovi (above) recently recorded a video of him singing a Mandarin cover of The Moon Represents My Heart. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BEIJING • Bon Jovi appears to be the latest act to run afoul of Chinese sensitivities over the Dalai Lama, after the band's dates in Shanghai and Beijing this month were abruptly cancelled.

AEG China, which is the concert's promoter, announced on Weibo on Tuesday that the shows in Shanghai and Beijing next week "have been cancelled for some reason". It did not explain why.

The Financial Times reported that China's Ministry of Culture cancelled the performances after discovering that a video backdrop for the American rock band's concert in Taiwan in 2010 featured an image of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Also, Bon Jovi's 2009 music video for We Weren't Born To Follow features brief images of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations around Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Public discussion of the event remains a taboo in China.

Chinese officials have also been especially sensitive about live concerts since Icelandic singer Bjork chanted "Tibet! Tibet!" during her song Declare Independence in Shanghai in 2008.

The title of Taylor Swift's latest album, 1989, and subsequent tour raised speculation that it might cause problems in China. The title refers to the year of the American singer's birth, but that is also the year of the deadly crackdown on protesters in Beijing and other Chinese cities. Some of the merchandise that promote the tour featured 1989 and Swift's initials, T.S., suggesting a connection to Tiananmen Square, the centre of the protests in Beijing that year.

But the links appear to be accidental and she is still scheduled to perform in Shanghai in November.

An online store at the Chinese e-commerce site JD.com carrying official Taylor Swift merchandise is still marketing shirts that say "The 1989 World Tour", though there are none that say "T.S.".

NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'Bon Jovi's gigs in China cancelled'. Print Edition | Subscribe