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China Warns Foreign Performers About Law

The Chinese government warned Thursday that foreign performers and entertainers should not violate Chinese law or harm ethnic unity during live performances, in a sign of increasing nervousness about disruptions ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

The government wants to guard against performances that could tarnish the country's carefully cultivated image of order and control. Authorities were alarmed in March after Icelandic singer Bjork shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" at the end of her concert in Shanghai.

Authorities said her outburst "broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people's feelings," and vowed to be stricter on foreign performers.

The notice on the Ministry of Culture's Web site said China should strengthen rules about foreign performers including checks on their background.

"The content of the performance should not violate the country's law, including situations that harm the sovereignty of the country," the notice said, adding that they should also not harm "national security, or incite racial hatred and ruin ethnic unity."

The statement also said performers should not promote pornography and superstition, and that agencies bringing foreign performers to China will be banned for two years if they violate the rules.

The rules were first introduced in 2005, but the statement reinforces before the games open on Aug. 8.

Musicians in Beijing have gone into hibernation this summer as live performances have been stopped in bars, a music festival canceled, and clubs suddenly told they need a live performance license.

Opposition to China's 58-year rule over Tibet is a popular cause among artists and musicians in the West, and has drawn frequent condemnation from foreign governments and activists. The issue was reignited after violent protests broke out in March in Tibet, leading the Chinese government to shut off the area to foreign media and crack down on alleged offenders.

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