Much to the dismay of Chinese fans, the first-ever concert in China by US rock band Bon Jovi has been cancelled, the Chinese promoter said on Wednesday. The reason for the sudden cancellation is not clear though some suggest a music video shot six years ago showing scenes from the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown could have angered authorities.
Promoter AEG said in short statement on its Weibo microblog that the September 14 concert in Shanghai and September 17 concert in Beijing had been cancelled "for some reason".
It provided no other explanation and government authorities either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment. The government forbids artistes performing content that "harms national unity" and vets set-lists and lyrics before approving concerts, as well as the artistes themselves to ensure no objectionable connections, such as to human rights groups.Bon Jovi's 2009 We Weren't Born To Follow music video features brief images of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, bloodily put down by the army. Public discussion of the event remains taboo in China.
The Financial Times, citing unidentified sources, said China had banned the concert after discovering a picture of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a man reviled by China, had featured in a video shown at a previous concert in Taiwan.
An official at the Ministry of Culture, responsible for the vetting process, said decisions about the concerts were being handled at the city level. The Beijing Culture Bureau declined to comment. The Shanghai Culture Bureau did not answer calls seeking comment. The Foreign Ministry said it did not know anything about the case.
Fans reacted angrily on social media. "Another concert cancelled. Let's thank our country once more!" wrote one on Weibo. "The world's most populous country and second largest economy is scared of a few songs?" wrote another.Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi had courted China in August 2015 by releasing a video of him singing in not bad Mandarin the classic love song The Moon Represents My Heart by the late Taiwan singer Teresa Teng, which remains hugely popular in China.
Among Bon Jovi's best-known hits is Livin' On a Prayer. In 2008 Icelandic singer Bjork infuriated the government by shouting Tibet! Tibet! after performing her song Declare Independence at a concert in Shanghai. China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since "peacefully liberating" the Himalayan region in 1950, and it condemns any challenge to its authority.