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©AP/ Elton John
© AP/ Elton John
Elton John dedicates Beijing show to Chinese artist, dissident Ai Weiwei

BEIJING (AP) -- Pop icon Elton John publicly dedicated his only concert in Beijing to Chinese artist and political critic Ai Weiwei, sending a murmur of shock through an audience accustomed to tight censorship of entertainment.

Minutes into a more than two-hour show Sunday night, John told the audience that the performance was dedicated "to the spirit and talent of Ai Weiwei," according to several audience members. They said the crowd rumbled in recognition that Ai remains a touchy subject for the Chinese government.

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An internationally acclaimed sculptor and installation artist, Ai has used his art and his renown to draw attention to social injustice. He was detained for nearly three months last year, and he remains barred from leaving China.

Ai and John met each other briefly on Sunday before the concert. "I super like him," Ai said on his feed on Twitter, which is banned in China, but on which he has 180,000 followers.

China-based online media sites reported on John's Beijing show, as they did on a Friday night performance in Shanghai, but they did not report John's remark about Ai.

The Chinese government exercises tight control of live performances, requiring artists to submit detailed lists of songs, casts and crew members before approval is given. Censors further tightened scrutiny after singer Bjork shouted "Tibet, Tibet" at the close of a song titled "Declare Independence" at a Shanghai performance in 2008.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
11Comments
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Billions of potential record buyers???  Does that mean every single person in China would by an Elton John record if he were allowed to play there after this?  And does that mean that unbeknownst to us, there are now more than 2 billion people in China?  Write every Western company and worry about not being able to have westerners play there anymore??  Are you people serious. How come every **** has to say something absurd after everythime someone does something to stand up to someone or actually make an effort to change things???
Nov 26, 2012 2:47PM
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Elton John seems like a sensible artist, and is obviously sympathetic to Ai WeiWei plight as an artist, but dedicating his concert to WeiWei probably won't see any invitations extended to John anytime soon to perform again.  With billions of potential record buyers, Elton might suffer a bit, but he's already a very wealthy man.  So, standing up for his beliefs might only help WeiWei in a very repressive political atmosphere, or it could backfire.  Stay tuned!!!
Nov 26, 2012 12:51PM
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If he really wanted to make an issue of it, he would have refused to play over there until WeiWei was released.

Nov 26, 2012 12:43PM
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Thank you Elton, but are you also willing to write to every Western company or manufacturer and ask them to tun their backs on profits at the hands of the repressive Chinese government and exploitative wages. 
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glad to see Elton has the juevos to stand for freedom of expression.  The down sideis that the Chicoms will make it tougher for western entertainers to perform in China......it is the law of subsequential beginnings:  see the end result before declaring something good!

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