China bans entertainers who "offend sovereignty"

2008-07-18 06:21:23 GMT       2008-07-18 14:21:23 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Overseas entertainers will be banned from the Chinese mainland if they are deemed to have "offended the country's sovereignty" during performances, says China's Ministry of Culture.

"Any individual entertainers or artistic groups formerly involved in activities that endangered state sovereignty will not be allowed in," according to a circular posted on the ministry's website on Thursday.

Performances that "undermine national unity, endanger state security, stir up ethnic hatred, violate religious policy and ethnic customs, publicize pornography and superstition" would be barred, the circular said.

The circular gave no names on the "black list", but it stressed that all the information on entertainers and programs should be submitted in advance for approval, encores included.

The new measures also apply to entertainers from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Under the new rule, performers such as Icelandic singer Bjork, who stirred up controversy in March by chanting "Tibet" after singing the song "Declare Independence", would become a persona non grata.

Vice Minister of Culture Zhou Heping said at a conference the "individual case" violated Chinese laws and hurt the feelings of Chinese people, but China still welcomed foreign entertainers so long as they obeyed Chinese laws.

Almost 1,700 postings on Chinese web portal gave overwhelming support to the move, with most acclaiming the "wise" decision of the government.

In late May, Hollywood actress Sharon Stone also incurred criticism when she said the May 12 quake had been the result of bad "karma". Films featuring Stone have been banned from any UME cinema in Hong Kong and the mainland, and products of films featuring Stone have disappeared from major film and music stores.

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