Oasis gigs in China canceled for economic reasons

BEIJING (Reuters) - Oasis will not play in China for economic reasons and not because of any connection with the Tibet issue, an official at the promoter of the shows said on Tuesday.

Vocalist Liam Gallagher (L) and his brother and guitarist Noel Gallagher (R) of the British rock group 'Oasis' perform during a concert in Bilbao on November 20, 2002. REUTERS/Vincent West

Oasis had said China blocked shows scheduled for Shanghai and Beijing after they found out that band member Noel Gallagher had appeared at a “Free Tibet” benefit concert in the United States in 1997.

But a promoter from Beijing All Culture Communication Co Ltd, a small event company which promotes more ballet and traditional Chinese concerts than rock concerts, told Reuters by telephone it was canceled due to a “tough economic situation.”

“I have no money. It’s normal in an environment of economic crisis ... It has nothing to do at all with the Tibet problem,” said the man, who gave only his surname, Luo.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since People’s Liberation Army troops marched into the Himalayan region in 1950 and denounces any challenge to its authority.

The Foreign Ministry backed Luo’s position, though spokesman Qin Gang added that the government was still investigating.

“According to the organizer, the performance was canceled because of some economic problems the organizer had,” Qin told a regular news briefing.

“The Chinese authorities responsible for this, the cultural departments, have already required the organizers to provide more detailed information,” he added.

The rest of the Southeast Asian leg of the Oasis tour will go ahead as planned, including a Hong Kong gig on April 7. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Last year China said it would tighten controls over foreign singers after Icelandic pop star Bjork shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” at a Shanghai concert.

Despite hosting a raft of high-profile acts in recent years, including the Rolling Stones, China takes pains to ensure concerts are politically correct.

Artists are forbidden to perform content that would harm “national unity” or “stir up resentment” and promoters are asked to submit set-lists and lyric sheets for approval.

Reporting by Ian Ransom and Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Nick Macfie