11/27/2012, 00.00
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Beijing "not happy" about Elton John's dedication to Ai Weiwei

The Ministry of Culture has published a note in which it admits: "We did not like his choice, but he is a very popular singer. There is little we can do." Retaliation, however, is feared, such as that which hit Western artists after Bjorn's pro-Tibetan concert. The dissident: "Surprised and happy."

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Chinese Ministry of Culture has described as "unfortunate" the decision made yesterday by the British singer Elton John, who decided to dedicate his whole concert in Beijing to the prominent dissident Ai Weiwei. In a statement, the ministry said it was "disappointed" that the dedication occurred but admitted, however, that "not much can be done about it, given that Elton John is a very popular musician."

During the performance in front of over 12,000 spectators in the Wukesong Arena, the sports hall where in 2008 the Olympic basketball tournament was held, the British singer said that his show was dedicated to the 55 year-old designer and icon of the opposition to the communist regime who "I met just before going on stage."

"He hadn't said anything to me about it", said Ai, who was attending the concert with his youngest son, "and I do not think that the government will be happy. But they cannot do much, Elton John is a very popular singer, who has great influence."

The dissident is a well-known architect who helped design the "Swallow's nest" Olympic stadium. His critical positions against the communist regime, however, have turned him into a symbol of dissidence, provoking in 2011 his sudden and unmotivated arrest lasting for 81 days.

Back in circulation, he was tried for tax evasion: the trial was a farce aimed at his studio, which ended up with a fine of almost €1.9 million and a ban on leaving the country for a year. He currently lives in a sort of house arrest, although he can move and publish on the internet with a certain freedom.

As for Elton John, there is no guarantee that things are over. The Chinese regime has the option of taking revenge at a later date, as it did when, in 2008, the Icelandic singer Bjork took advantage of a show in Shanghai to chant "Tibet, Tibet, rebel!." The authorities of the People's Republic reacted by denying many Western artists permission to perform for years.



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