BEIJING – Justin Bieber is not welcome to perform in China because of his “bad behavior,” Beijing authorities have said, after the pop idol angered many Chinese in 2014 by visiting war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture revealed it was not a “Belieber” when it said the 23-year-old Canadian, who last played in the country in 2013, had a lot of growing up to do if he wanted to return.
The statement came after Chinese fans posted comments on the agency’s website demanding to know when their heart-throb would be allowed to perform in China again.
It is “inappropriate to introduce bad behavior into the performing arts” it said, calling the performer out for his antics and urging him to turn over a new leaf.
“We hope Justin Bieber can improve his words and deeds in the process of growing up and become a singer people really like.”
TheThe Beijing cultural bureau did not specifically mention Bieber’s 2014 visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors millions of mostly Japanese war dead, including convicted Class-A war criminals.
Shortly after his trip, the singer behind the hit song “Sorry” issued an apology to scandalized Chinese fans, saying he was “mislead (sic) to think the shrines were only a place of prayer.”
But some have never forgiven him.
“Anyone who knows and then visits the Yasukuni Shrine is annoying,” a user called Qiao Ating wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo website on Friday.
Another Weibo user agreed: “It’s good he’s not coming. He is a bad boy.”
Fan Jiayi, a jewelry designer in Shanghai, said she supported the authorities’ stance, saying: “I do not think the government would reject him unless there was a big problem.”
Bieber, however, is due to perform in Hong Kong in September as part of his “Purpose Tour.”
Other big-name Western acts have been banned from performing in mainland China over political gestures in the past.
U.S pop group Maroon 5 canceled a concert in 2015 after authorities withheld permission because a band member had met the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing views as a separatist threat.
Later the same year, Bon Jovi — who used imagery of the Dalai Lama in a show — abruptly scrapped two dates in Beijing and Shanghai.
Chinese officials have been especially sensitive about live concerts since Icelandic singer Bjork chanted “Tibet! Tibet!” during a performance of her song “Declare Independence” in Shanghai in 2008.
China says its troops “liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse Beijing of conducting religious repression and eroding their culture.