Bon Jovi’s concert tour in China next week has been abruptly canceled because of what promoters said were “unforeseen reasons.”
AEG Live Asia declined to give the reason for the cancellation, but said in a statement Tuesday that refunds will be offered for shows scheduled Sept. 14 in Shanghai and Sept. 17 in Beijing. AEG also apologized “for the inconvenience and disappointment that this will cause.”
A representative for Jon Bon Jovi didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
The Financial Times newspaper reported that the shows had been called off because the Culture Ministry had discovered that the band once included a picture of the Dalai Lama in a video backdrop during a concert in Taiwan in 2010, citing people familiar with the matter.
The ruling Communist Party is sensitive to any perceived support from foreign governments and celebrities for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who they denounce as a separatist.
A recently released video shows Jon Bon Jovi singing a famous Chinese love ballad from the 1970s in Mandarin, adding to the buzz in China around this tour. Chinese fans expressed their disappointment and anger on social media, with some complaining that they had booked airline tickets and time off work to see the concerts.
Authorities tightened scrutiny over foreign musicians performing in China after Icelandic singer Bjork shouted “Tibet, Tibet” following a song called “Declare Independence” at a Shanghai performance in 2008. A concert by U.S. pop group Maroon 5 planned for Saturday in Shanghai was canceled in July following a reported tweet by a band member about meeting the Dalai Lama.
The announcement of the Bon Jovi cancellations came on the same day as the Communist Party held grand celebrations in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to mark 50 years since it established Tibet as an ethnic autonomous region firmly under Beijing’s control.
China claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and that Beijing’s tight control is draining them of their culture and identity.
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