By Ryan Reed [Rolling Stone]
In a statement published Tuesday on its website, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture wrote, “Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer … As far as we are concerned, he has engaged in a series of bad behaviors, both in his social life and during a previous performance in China, which caused discontent among the public.
“In order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment, it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers,” the statement continued. “We hope that as Justin Bieber matures, he can continue to improve his own words and actions, and truly become a singer beloved by the public.”
The Bureau, responding to a query submitted on the site about the singer’s lengthy absence from China, didn’t specify how the country will enforce the ban. And an official at the organization told The New York Times she was unaware of the stance and offered no details.
While the specifics are hazy, China’s motivations seem clear, given Bieber’s multiple controversies in the country in recent years. In 2013, photographs circulated showing the 23-year-old’s bodyguards carrying him up the Great Wall of China; on that same trip, as part of his world tour 2012 LP, Believe, he caused a fan commotion by skateboarding outside a Beijing mall.
The following year, Bieber earned blowback from the Chinese government after visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, with then-Foreign Ministry of China Qin Gang stating, “I hope this singer can learn more about the history of Japanese militarism, and the wrongful historical and militaristic views promoted by the shrine after his visit.”
Bieber’s ongoing world tour behind his fourth LP, 2015’s Purpose, will conclude in September and October with a stretch of Asian dates, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, the Philippines and Singapore.
China is known for blacklisting Western artists for political concerns. Last year, the country banned Lady Gaga after she met with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, to discuss yoga. Bon Jovi, Maroon 5, Oasis and Bjork have faced similar obstruction after speaking out in favor of Tibetan independence.