China's Culture Ministry said Friday it plans to tighten its scrutiny of foreign artists slated to perform there in response to pop singer Bjork's show of support for Tibetan independence at her Shanghai concert last weekend.
The ministry blasted the Icelandic singer for performing an unapproved song — her political anthem Declare Independence — and for invoking Tibet at its conclusion.
Its statement also said the show broke Chinese laws and regulations, "hurt the feelings of the Chinese public" and "went against the professional code of an artist," according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.
China is a frequent target of criticism by foreign governments and activists over its rule over Tibet, which it considers Chinese territory but others consider an occupied nation.
The government also tries its best to control foreign content in Chinese society by influencing everything from which foreign films are approved for screening at Chinese cinemas to which songs visiting artists are permitted to perform at concerts.
Song has caused singer trouble on tour
It is not the first time Declare Independence — which Bjork has often performed as the closing song on her current tour — has provoked a negative reaction.
Last month, at a concert in Tokyo, Bjork dedicated the song to Kosovo. Subsequently, her performance at a Serbian music festival was cancelled.
Though festival organizers publicly gave other reasons for the decision, the singer's management revealed this week that her support of Kosovo was indeed the reason cited in e-mails to them.
Alternately, Bjork has also dedicated the song to the aboriginal people of Australia and to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
This week, the singer issued a statement on her website about the continuing controversy.
"I am not a politician. I am first and last a musician, and as such, I feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions," she wrote in a message posted Tuesday.
"This song was written more with the personal in mind, but the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure. I would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence."