Unlike a lot of young music fans, the Chinese government is not a Belieber. Authorities doubled down this week on their decision to bar Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber from performing in mainland China due to his previous “bad behaviour”.
The multimillion-dollar entertainer will be skipping mainland China during his Purpose World Tour later this year, which has been described as a “world apology tour” for his past actions.
But despite his theme, Beijing’s culture bureau released a statement on their website on Tuesday saying: “Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer.”
It said the star’s previous bad behaviour in his social life and within China had “caused public dissatisfaction”, noting the need to regulate and “purify” its domestic entertainment scene.
The statement was prompted by a Chinese fan, He Wenrui, who demanded to know, in a post on the culture bureau’s website: “Why don’t mainland fans get the right to appreciate him?”
Bieber is known for his meteoric rise to stardom, from fresh-faced YouTube singer to bad boy celebrity belting out catchy hits such as “Baby” and “As Long As You Love Me”. His legions of fans are known as Beliebers.
But the singer has made headlines in recent years for more than just his Instagram selfies and flings, with a series of scandals. The most infamous was his arrest in 2014 for drunk drag racing in a rented Lamborghini – he referenced this on Instagram last month, saying jail is “not a cool place to be” – as well as multiple alleged incidents of assault and vandalism.
Bieber performed in China in October 2013, but was widely ridiculed after photos surfaced of bodyguards carrying the popstar up the Great Wall, and of him skateboarding on Beijing’s streets.
He also found himself at the centre of a backlash in 2014 after visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Japan that honours war criminals from the second world war.
“To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry,” he wrote on Instagram at the time. “I love you China and I love you Japan.”
Representatives for Bieber have yet to respond to requests for comment.
The heartthrob is not the only artist who has been stopped from performing in mainland China. The government has previously barred artists for their support of Tibetan independence and its exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
US popstar Lady Gaga’s entire repertoire was banned in China after she met the Dalai Lama in 2016. British rock band Oasis and Maroon 5, from the US, were also barred after they indicated support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama.
But Bieber fans in China will be heartened to know it’s not too late for the singer to redeem himself.
The Chinese bureau said on its website: “Hopefully Justin Bieber will constantly improve his words and actions in his growth process, and truly become a singer beloved by the public.” – SCMP