Icelandic singer Björk angered the Chinese government this week by dedicating her song Declare Independence to Tibet during a concert in Shanghai. China has controlled the Himalayan region of Tibet since 1951, and dismisses international calls for Tibetan self-determination as meddling. The Culture Ministry said the singer had Â“hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,Â” and vowed to “tighten controls on foreign artists performing in China to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.” (The London Times)
What the commentators said
This has to be Björk’s “dumbest” career move “since she wore that objectionable swan tutu to the Oscars a few years back,” said CTV’s ShowBiz blog. For one thing, when you’re a guest you play by the host country’s rules. More importantly, “this is a clear-cut case of one idiot throwing sand in the sandbox and ruining playtime for everyone else,” because now China will make other artists pay for Björk’s attempt to grab the spotlight.
This was not some kind of publicity stunt, said Tibetan-Canadian Lhadon Tethong on her blog Beijing Wide Open. Björk has appeared in the documentary Free Tibet and the Tibetan Freedom Concerts of 1996 and 1997, proving that the cause of Tibetan independence is truly important to her. "On behalf of all Tibetans I want to say: Thank you, Bjork."
Chinese Internet message boards were flooded with comments from people who weren’t so grateful, says Adam Schokora on the blog Danwei. But one post suggested that the outrage was a little overblown: "So what if she sang a few lines about Tibet? We don't need to berate the woman to death. Is our government really that sensitive?"
It’s certainly fair to say it isn’t Björk’s place to criticize China, said a Chinese blogger in Truth about China. "Does she know very much about Tibet?" She has a nice voice, but that doesn’t make her an authority. Björk should stay in China a while, and learn about the issue more, before butting in.