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China targets foreign entertainers after Bjork debacle

July 18, 2008

BEIJING, Thursday July 17 2008 (Reuters) - China will ban all
entertainers from overseas, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have ever attended
activities that "threaten national sovereignty", the government said on
Thursday, after an outburst by Icelandic singer Bjork.

Earlier this year, Bjork shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" at a Shanghai concert
having performed her song "Declare Independence", which she has used in
the past to promote independence movements in other places such as Kosovo.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron hand since its troops marched into
the Himalayan region in 1950, and swiftly condemns any challenge to its
authority there.

"Any artistic group or individual who have ever engaged in activities
which threaten our national sovereignty will not be allowed in," the
Ministry of Culture said in a statement on its website (

During performances, entertainers who "threaten national unity", "whip
up ethnic hatred", "violate religious policy or cultural norms" or
"advocate obscenity or feudalism and superstition", will also be banned,
the rules state.

The new rules come on top of Beijing banning pop festivals and
tightening approvals for outdoor events in the months leading up to the
Olympics, where it fears security threats from unruly crowds and
potential protesters.

Even encores need to be approved in advance, the ministry added.

"Nothing that has not been approved will be allowed to be performed," it

Though the issue burst into the international spotlight after the Bjork
case, which prompted an angry rebuke from China, singers from the much
freer and more open ethnically Chinese societies of Hong Kong and Taiwan
are more normal targets of ire.

China banned the hugely popular Taiwan pop star Chang Hui-mei for a year
after she sang the self-ruled island's anthem at anti-China President
Chen Shui-bian's inauguration in 2000. China considers Taiwan its
sovereign territory.

She was later forgiven, though, and allowed back into China. (Reporting
by Ben Blanchard; Editing by David Fogarty)
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