A state-owned newspaper accused the veteran British singer of being ‘disrespectful’ and said his actions could lead to a ban on other Western performers putting on shows in China.
The attack from China came after a concert by the 65-year-old at the weekend which he dedicated to Ai Weiwei, the man behind the famous Beijing Olympic Stadium.
At the end of the show, Sir Elton stunned his audience when he said he was dedicating the show to Weiwei. He said he was there to give tribute to Weiwei’s ‘honour and talent’.
The pair even met ahead of the concert and the Chinese artist then posted a picture on Twitter claiming ‘I super like him [Elton John]’.
The Global Times, a paper run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said in an editorial: ‘John’s unexpected action was disrespectful to the audience and the contract that he signed with the Chinese side,
‘He forcibly added political content to the concert, which should have been nothing more than an entertaining performance.’
The prominent sculptor, 55, is a noted critic of the communist regime.
Last year, he disappeared into police custody for 81 days, drawing worldwide headlines and casting a spotlight on the government’s growing concern over social unrest following the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
Post-release he was convicted of tax evasion, around £1million, by the Beijing tax bureau and barred from leaving the country for one year.
‘John’s action will also make the relevant agencies further hesitate in the future when they invite foreign artists,’ said the Global Times.
‘John himself is a senior entertainment figure, but has raised difficulties for future arts exchanges between China and other countries.’
The iconic Grammy Award-winning artist is scheduled to return to China next week to play at a concert in the southern city of Guangzhou, following shows in South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong. John performs in Hong Kong on December 4.
Tickets for the performance remained on sale on Wednesday and the promoter said cultural authorities had not informed them of any cancellation.
But the Global Times suggested that ‘Chinese audiences need not hesitate to protest the provocateur and boo him off the stage’.
Ai said he welcomed the editorial because it was a rare instance of state-run media mentioning his name and reporting on controversial issues that are routinely censored.
‘I’m quite happy they did this, at least they are starting to talk about the things that a lot of people think about,’ Ai said.
‘They realise that they need to have their own voice and that they can’t remain silent all the time” on controversial issues censored by the authorities.
Other Western artists have also courted controversy while touring China.Source: Daily Mail “China attacks Sir Elton John for his support of dissident artist Ai Weiwei”
- Elton John dedicates Beijing concert to Ai Weiwei (itv.com)
- Sir Elton’s tribute to Ai Weiwei hits wrong note with authorities (thetimes.co.uk)
- Ai Weiwei barred from Chinese court in tax case (chinadailymail.com)