Bon Jovi China Not Happening
Nothing much is known about the reason for the cancellation of two Bon Jovi concerts on the mainland, the group’s first ever, but they definitely are canceled after a day’s worth of rumors.
AEG Live Asia released a statement Sept. 8 citing “unforeseen reasons” and apologizing “for the inconvenience and disappointment that this will cause.” Refunds will be offered. The fact that the cancellations were announced practically at the last minute – the Shanghai gig was Sept. 14 and Beijing Sept. 17 – may indicate a bit of reluctance to do so.
In any case commentators are busy speculating over the possible reasons. Before the announcement was confirmed, ticketing agencies stopped selling seats for the shows. At first, fans online thought the cancellations might be due to poor ticket sales.
The more likely reason, as reported by the Financial Times, is that the Culture Ministry, which has to approve all foreign artists’ set lists before they perform them, discovered that the group had used an image of the Dalai Lama as a stage backdrop during a show in Taiwan in 2010.
The Dalai Lama is reviled by the Chinese Communist Party because he is considered a symbol of Tibetan independence. The feeling is so strong that after the Dalai Lama appeared at Glastonbury this summer and Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to meet with him, Beijing froze all top-level diplomatic contact with the UK.
The issue is particularly sensitive right now because this week marks the 50th anniversary of Tibet becoming an administrative region of China. In addition, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Bon Jovi gave an interview to Chinese media to promote his shows in which he says his music celebrates “individual freedom and expression,” a seemingly anodyne sentiment that nevertheless will raise flags with the Culture Ministry.
Financial Times also says that the organizer of the concerts, AEG, have been trying to convince authorities to change their minds, but that seems unlikely, despite the spate of angry messages posted on different microblog websites.
The Wall Street Journal quoted one Weibo user as saying, “Bon Jovi’s concert got cancelled? Give me an explanation! I wanted to celebrate my birthday in a luxurious way, but now it’s all gone.”