Nervous Officials Cancel Concerts

Nervous Officials Cancel Concerts As predicted by music promoter Archie Hamilton on his China Music Radar blog several weeks ago, Chinese authorities have canceled a number of festivals and other events this year.

Photo: AP Photo / Ng han Guan
With Chinese authorities skittish over safety at major public events, everything from Earth Day events to metal concerts have been canceled during a time that normally includes bustling springtime outdoor revelry such as this May Day event in Beijing April 30.

The cancellations have taken in everything from an “Earth Day event to a heavy metal concert.” In an interview with the Associated Press, Hamilton said the cancellations reflect the current political atmosphere of paranoia with regard to what the Communist Party sees as a “society too accepting of liberal and Western influences.”

Among the instances of arbitrary official action was a show by the Japanese metal band Boris that was canceled after the group arrived in Beijing and a music event organized by the U.S. Embassy and China’s Ministry of Culture that was suddenly moved from a central Beijing park out of the city.

Ostensibly, Hamilton and others say the main reason is the deadly stampede that occurred in Shanghai during New Year’s celebrations earlier this year.

Police are nervous about similar safety risks, so any event expecting more than a few hundred people have been tightly controlled. But even this aspect has been approached arbitrarily, since an April 18 boxing match in Beijing that attracted hundreds of people was allowed to proceed, as well as a concert by the Backstreet Boys. But the effect may be more important to the authorities than the actual action.

“This put the fear into all of us,” says Hamilton. “Everyone’s afraid of getting it wrong and losing a lot of money. It’s that harmless stuff, of people getting together and sharing and being creative, which is what China is about, but it’s not really happening.”