BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. rockers Bon Jovi have had their first ever tour of China unexpectedly canceled, the Chinese promoter said on Wednesday, and it was not immediately clear why, though a music video of six years ago shows scenes from the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Promoter AEG said in short statement on its Weibo microblog that the Sept. 14 concert in Shanghai and Sept. 17 concert in Beijing had been canceled “for some reason”.
It provided no other explanation and government authorities either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.
The government forbids artists performing content that “harms national unity” and vets set-lists and lyrics before approving concerts, as well as the artists themselves to ensure no objectionable connections, such as to human rights groups.
Bon Jovi’s 2009 “We Weren’t Born To Follow” music video features brief images of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, bloodily put down by the army. Public discussion of the event remains taboo in China.
The Financial Times, citing unidentified sources, said China had banned the concert after discovering a picture of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a man reviled by China, had featured in a video shown at a previous concert in Taiwan.
An official at the Ministry of Culture, responsible for the vetting process, said decisions about the concerts were being handled at the city level.
The Beijing Culture Bureau declined to comment.
The Shanghai Culture Bureau did not answer calls seeking comment. The Foreign Ministry said it did not know anything about the case.
Fans reacted angrily on social media.
“Another concert canceled. Let’s thank our country once more!” wrote one on Weibo.
“The world’s most populous country and second largest economy is scared of a few songs?” wrote another.
Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi had courted China last month by releasing a video of him singing in not bad Mandarin the classic love song “The Moon Represents My Heart” by the late Taiwan singer Teresa Teng, which remains hugely popular in China.
Among Bon Jovi’s best known hits is “Livin’ On a Prayer”.
In 2008 Icelandic singer Bjork infuriated the government by shouting “Tibet! Tibet!” after performing her song “Declare Independence” at a concert in Shanghai.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since “peacefully liberating” the Himalayan region in 1950, and it condemns any challenge to its authority.
Reporting by Beijing bureau; Editing by Robert Birsel