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‘Talented but controversial’: Justin Bieber joins long list of pop stars banned in China

Canadian singer Justin Bieber has been banned by Beijing authorities due to “misconduct that caused public dissatisfaction.”

Bieber has been on tour since March 2016 promoting his latest album. He has scheduled a concert in Hong Kong on September 27, but no shows in mainland China are planned.

A fan posted a question on the website of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture on Sunday asking why he was banned: “Justin Bieber has received multiple awards – he has talent, why are mainland fans not given the right to enjoy [his show]?”

Justin Bieber

Singer Justin Bieber as photographed by police while in custody on January 23, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. He was arrested for driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving without a valid driver’s license. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Bureau replied on Tuesday saying that it understood the fan’s concerns.

“Justin Bieber is a talented but controversial young foreign singer,” it read. “According to our understanding, as a public figure, he has had a series of misconduct that caused public dissatisfaction in his social life overseas and in performances within the country [China].”

“To regulate the market order of performances in the country and purify the environment of the performance market, it is not appropriate to introduce entertainers with bad behaviour. However, [we] hope he will continue to improve his behaviour as he grows, to become a singer truly loved by the public.”

Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture

Photo: Screenshot,

Bieber performed in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Dalian and Shanghai in 2013.

2014 apology

In 2014, Bieber received backlash in China for posting a photograph that showed him standing in front of the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo. China sees the shrine as a symbol of Japanese militarism as it honours Japanese leaders executed for war crimes, and often slams visitors to the shrine.

“While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine. I was mislead to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan,” Bieber wrote on Instagram at the time.

Previously, Western entertainers have been banned in China because of links to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

American rock band Bon Jovi was forced to cancel shows in China in September 2015. The band had used an image of the Dalai Lama as a backdrop at a gig in Taiwan in 2010.

bon jovi dalai lama

Backdrop of Bon Jovi 2010 concert in Taiwan. Photo: YouTube/Free Tibet.

American pop group Maroon 5 also had their Shanghai concerts cancelled in July 2015. It was reported that the ban might have been issued in response to a happy birthday message sent on Twitter from one of the band members to the Dalai Lama.

British rock band Oasis’ shows were cancelled in 2009 after lead guitarist Noel Gallagher appeared at a Free Tibet Benefit Concert in New York in 1997, and Icelandic singer Bjork was banned from performing in China after campaigning for Tibet at a Shanghai concert in 2008.

HKFP has contacted Bieber’s management company for comment.

'Talented but controversial': Justin Bieber joins long list of pop stars banned in China