Maroon 5 cancels China gig, prompting speculation over Dalai Lama meeting

Members of pop rock band Maroon 5 pose during a photocall at the 14th Mawazine World Rhythms International Music Festival in Rabat on June 6, 2015.
Members of pop rock band Maroon 5 pose during a photocall at the 14th Mawazine World Rhythms International Music Festival in Rabat on June 6, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (AFP) - A planned concert by United States band Maroon 5 in China has been cancelled, the promoter said, prompting speculation that the authorities refused permission because a band member met the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

The China office of US promoter Live Nation apologised to ticket holders and pledged refunds, but gave no reason for the cancellation for the concert which was to have taken place in the country's commercial hub, Shanghai.

Jesse Carmichael, who plays both keyboard and rhythm guitar, tweeted about meeting the Dalai Lama at events for the leader's 80th birthday earlier this month. The tweet has been removed.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after an armed rebellion against Chinese rule was put down by its military.

China considers Tibet to be part of its sovereign territory which it claims is backed by a long-standing historical right, and accuses the Nobel peace laureate of separatism.

Maroon 5 were due to play Shanghai on Sept 12, according to a previous statement on the band's website, but the city no longer appeared on a schedule.

They are still expected to play in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, the website showed.

Fans showed disappointment over the cancellation.

"I believe Jesse (Carmichael) did not mean any malice. I also understand the government's attitude. The fans are the ones who suffer," wrote Qi Chu in a microblog posting. Another asked: "Does attending a friend's birthday party equal agreeing with his political views?"

Chinese officials have been especially sensitive about live concerts since Bjork chanted Tibet during her song Declare Independence in 2008.

The authorities censor content they deem to be politically sensitive or obscene, while international music acts are required to submit set lists for major concerts in advance.

Last year, the suggestive lyrics of Honky Tonk Women were apparently too much for China's cultural authorities as the Rolling Stones said the chart-topping song was "vetoed" for their show.