It’s hard to imagine another member of the United Nations Security Council, for instance, feeling threatened by Bjork. But when the big-voiced Icelandic pixie shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” from the concert stage in Shanghai – nearly two weeks before any hint of the violence that would roil Lhasa – the official Xinhua news agency reported that the Ministry of Culture would “investigate” her performance, which had “not only broken Chinese laws and regulations and hurt the feeling of Chinese people, but also went against the professional code of an artist.”
China is one of the very small number of places on the planet where the political impulses of rock musicians are taken seriously by politicians. Last year, when Sonic Youth played Beijing, the group’s handpicked opening act, the local Carsick Cars, mysteriously failed to appear. The best guess afterward was that the government had blocked the performance as an oblique act of retaliation against Sonic Youth for having appeared in a Free Tibet concert.
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