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China to Bar Entertainers It Deems Threat

July 20, 2008

The New York Times
July 18, 2008

BEIJING — Foreign entertainers who have taken part in activities that
China deems a threat to its sovereignty will not be allowed to perform
here, according to new rules posted Thursday on the Web site of the
Ministry of Culture.

The rules say that the background credentials of performers from foreign
countries, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan will be scrutinized. “Those who
used to take part in activities that harm our nation’s sovereignty are
firmly not allowed to perform in China,” the rules say.

They also call for barring performers who promote ethnic hatred or
“advocate obscenity or feudalism and superstition.”

The rules are the latest attempt by China to clamp down on any political
dissent before the Beijing Olympics, which begin on Aug. 8. Government
officials have set up security checkpoints throughout Beijing, deported
some foreigners or refused to renew visas and shut down protests by
grieving parents whose children died in school collapses in the May 12

China had promised a more open atmosphere this summer and had told the
International Olympic Committee that it would adhere to strict standards
for human rights. Many people outside China now doubt its commitment to
those pledges.

The rules on performers may have come about after an outburst in March
by Bjork, the popular Icelandic singer. She used a concert in Shanghai
to advocate Tibetan independence. She shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” after
performing “Declare Independence,” a song from her 2007 album, “Volta.”
The outcry drew sharp criticism from Chinese Internet users and praise
from international supporters of an independent Tibet.

The Chinese government often says the invasion of Tibet by the People’s
Liberation Army in 1950 led to the overthrow of a feudal system that was
kept in place by the Dalai Lama and his predecessors.

Interestingly, the new rules on entertainment also apply to performers
from Hong Kong and Macao, both former European colonies now administered
by China. In Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island off the coast of
Fujian Province, some entertainers advocate formal independence for
Taiwan and are considered dangerous by Chinese officials.

Huang Yuanxi contributed research.
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