China targets foreign entertainers after Bjork debacle

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will ban all entertainers from overseas, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have ever attended activities that “threaten national sovereignty”, the government said on Thursday, after an outburst by Icelandic singer Bjork.

Icelandic singer Bjork performs during her concert the Volta Tour in Tokyo February 22, 2008. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Earlier this year, Bjork shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” at a Shanghai concert having performed her song “Declare Independence”, which she has used in the past to promote independence movements in other places such as Kosovo.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron hand since its troops marched into the Himalayan region in 1950, and swiftly condemns any challenge to its authority there.

"Any artistic group or individual who have ever engaged in activities which threaten our national sovereignty will not be allowed in," the Ministry of Culture said in a statement on its website ( ).

During performances, entertainers who “threaten national unity”, “whip up ethnic hatred”, “violate religious policy or cultural norms” or “advocate obscenity or feudalism and superstition”, will also be banned, the rules state.

The new rules come on top of Beijing banning pop festivals and tightening approvals for outdoor events in the months leading up to the Olympics, where it fears security threats from unruly crowds and potential protesters.

Even encores need to be approved in advance, the ministry added.

“Nothing that has not been approved will be allowed to be performed,” it said.

Though the issue burst into the international spotlight after the Bjork case, which prompted an angry rebuke from China, singers from the much freer and more open ethnically Chinese societies of Hong Kong and Taiwan are more normal targets of ire.

China banned the hugely popular Taiwan pop star Chang Hui-mei for a year after she sang the self-ruled island’s anthem at anti-China President Chen Shui-bian’s inauguration in 2000. China considers Taiwan its sovereign territory.

She was later forgiven, though, and allowed back into China.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by David Fogarty