China has certainly made a rod for its own back with its sometimes paranoid approach to censorship. Reports yesterday suggest that Bob Dylan has cancelled part of an Asia tour after China’s Ministry of Culture allegedly refused permission for concerts in Beijing and Shanghai.
But the use of the word ‘allegedly’ here is not just editor’s caution. The ministry doesn’t confirm or deny the report, and the only source for the story seems to be the promoter. Permits have, apparently, been harder to come by since Icelandic singer Bjork referred to Tibet during one of her shows in China.
Yet concerts are frequently cancelled for much more mundane and less glamorous reasons such as disputes over fees, so a one-source story from a promoter who will undoubtedly want to put the best spin on the cancellation needs to be taken with at least a grain of salt.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has made itself an easy place at which to park the blame.