China’s international profile has risen astronomically in the past ten years, due in no small part to their epic staging of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. It’s important to remember, however, that China is still an extremely repressive country. Coming a couple years after Björk‘s controversial performance in which she urged Tibet to declare independence, the original musical radical, Bob Dylan, has been denied entry to China for what would have been his first concerts on the mainland.
Jeffrey Wu is the Taiwan-based promoter who was helping to organize the concerts, set to take place in Beijing and Shanghai. He says the Chinese Ministry of Culture — which reviews every foreign act who wants to play a concert in China — rejected the prospect of the shows because of Dylan’s past. Björk’s pro-Tibet stunt didn’t help matters, either. “What Björk did definitely made life very difficult for other performers. They are very wary of what will be said by performers on stage now,” said Wu in an interview with The Guardian. Just last year, Oasis was forbidden from performing in the country due to their involvement with a Tibetan Freedom Concert 12 years earlier.
The cancellations mean that Dylan has scrapped planned concerts in Taiwan and South Korea as well. This kind of action serves to illustrate just how out of touch Chinese authorities remain in the face of international pressure. China may be emerging as the economic power of the 21st century, but their government still behaves as if it’s the dark ages.