A Party For Foreigners

The April 8 sold-out Rolling Stones concert at the 8,000-seat Shanghai Grand Stage – the Stones’ first-ever performance in China – was criticized by local media as being mainly a “party for foreigners.”

The top ticket price for the concert was 3,000 yuan (US$375), which is equal to about five weeks of wages for the average person in Shanghai, though most of the tickets were priced between 300 and 1,800 yuan.

The April 9 edition of the Oriental Morning Post took the organizers to task for limiting media access to the event and said that the show was “a party organized for foreigners.”

One foreign woman who attended the concert told a Bloomberg reporter that she estimated the audience to be about 80 percent non-Chinese.

A number of foreign reports noted that The Rolling Stones are mostly unknown in China anyway since, during their heyday in the ’60s and ’70s, Western music was all but banned on the mainland.

So while the concert was seen as a way of boosting China’s image abroad, it attracted little attention in the country itself.

None of the three main government newspapers covered the event. State-run China Central Television reportedly taped the concert for future broadcast, but the date for the broadcast has yet to be announced.

The Stones performed for about 90 minutes. Chinese rock singer Cui Jian, a controversial figure in the eyes of authorities, joined Mick Jagger on stage for a duet of “Wild Horses.”

The band did not play any of the songs that they were told not to perform by Chinese censors.

This directive prompted a comment from Jagger at the pre-concert press conference that he was “pleased the Ministry of Culture is doing so much to protect the morals of expatriate bankers and their girlfriends.”

– Philip Brasor