Jane Birkin, a 69-year-old British actress and singer most famous for being a French fashion icon, was forced to cancel her concert in Shanghai earlier this month for lack of visa.
Birkin was supposed to have performed alongside the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra on July 9th as part of her Gainsbourg Symphonic tour, which marks 25 years since the death of Birkin’s mentor, the iconic French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.
Before the concert, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra released a statement saying that Jane Birkin “could not participate in the event due to certain reason.”
While the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was vague in its statement, it seems like everyone knows what that “certain reason” was. The Guardian reports that an associate said that China refused to issue Birkin a visa because of her “commitment to fighting human rights abuses.” The singer has been an active member in Amnesty International and the International Human Rights Federation. Furthermore, in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, she took part in a pro-Tibetan independence protest during the torch relay in Paris, speaking to the media about China’s “lack of free speech.”
In its article about the incident, the Chinese edition of the Global Times mentioned Birkin’s involvement in the protest and even ran a picture of Birkin holding a bag emblazoned with the Tibetan flag. “Even if the Chinese government allows entry to a pro-Tibet independence artist, the Chinese people won’t let this happen,” the Party mouthpiece added.
According to the Global Times, Chinese netizens online applauded the decision to deny Birkin a visa. “Why not ban the Birkin bag too?” suggested one web user.
Really it’s more surprising that Birkin was invited to Shanghai in the first place. In the recent past, Western celebs have been barred from entering China for much less. Selena Gomez was forced to quietly cancel her concerts in China after pictures hit the web of her looking longingly into the Dalai Lama’s eyes. Last summer, Maroon 5 dropped its Shanghai concert after it was revealed that they had attended the Dalai Lama’s b-day bash and Bon Jovi was forced to do the same after featuring His Holiness in one of their backdrops.
Most recently, Lady Gaga was allegedly “banned” from China for talking about kindness and compassion with the Tibetan leader.
By Robin Winship
[Images via Pure People]