Bon Jovi is unwanted, dead or alive, in China. The government has reportedly canceled two performances by the band that were set for next week in Beijing and Shanghai.
The gigs were allegedly nixed over five-year-old concert footage of Bon Jovi rocking out in front of a video backdrop depicting the Dalai Lama along with other cultural figures, sources familiar with the matter told The Financial Times. The Chinese government views the exiled spiritual leader as a violent Tibetan separatist.
Some confusion still remains over the fate of the shows, however, with no official notice of cancellation from Chinese authorities, the Bon Jovi camp or ticket seller Damai.cn. Tickets are currently unavailable on the vendor's site, while a spokesperson for Damai.cn told The Wall Street Journal that the company would release more details soon.
Damai.cn did not immediately return requests for comment.
Bon Jovi had been heavily promoting the Beijing and Shanghai dates in recent weeks, even recording a Chinese-language love song called "The Moon Represents My Heart" to celebrate China's version of Valentine's Day.
Maroon 5 was the subject of a similar controversy in July, when that band’s shows in China were canceled without explanation just days after keyboardist Jesse Carmichael tweeted a birthday message to the Dalai Lama.
Other artists that have run into trouble with China for sympathizing with the Tibetan leader include Oasis, Bjork and Linkin Park ― all of whom have faced some form of ban for their support of the Dalai Lama. Even smooth-jazz star and mall music icon Kenny G ran afoul of sensitive Beijing authorities when he was pictured among pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Kenny G later apologized, suggested he didn’t support the protesters, and removed the photo from his social media pages.
China has repeatedly rejected the Dalai Lama's calls for greater Tibetan autonomy. On Tuesday, a huge rally was held in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the China-controlled Tibetan Autonomous Region, at which officials vowed to battle against "the Dalai clique and foreign hostile forces' splittist and sabotage activities."
Despite China's apparent dose of bad medicine for Bon Jovi, the overall success of its tour is unlikely to be affected. The band's international tours are financial juggernauts, in past years raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.
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