China: Performance artist sentenced to four years in prison

The Wuhou District People’s Court in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, sentenced performance artist Chen Yunfei to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” related to his criticism of the Chinese government through art projects and social media, reported Human Rights Watch on 31 March 2017. The performance artist was originally detained […]

China: Banned Hong Kong film scrubbed from award coverage

Chinese media blocked live coverage of the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards on 9 April 2017 every time mention was made of Hong Kong crime film ‘Trivisa’, which was banned from screens in mainland China upon its release in 2016, reported South China Morning Post on 10 April 2017. Chinese media had also erased the […]

China: PEN International calls for release of imprisoned Tibetan writer

PEN International continues to call on Chinese authorities to release Tibetan writer Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, who has served more than eight years of his 15-year prison sentence after being convicted of “disclosing state secrets”, PEN International said on 1 March 2017. Based on the evidence, the organisation stated it believes the writer “is very […]

China: Gallery cancels event due to government pressure over Tibetan artist

Macau-based iAOHiN Amber gallery cancelled Tibetan painter Tashi Norbu’s live painting event after receiving pressure from Chinese government officials, reported Hong Kong Free Press on 27 February 2017. The artist, who was in Hong Kong at the time, added that Chinese authorities threatened to arrest and deport him if he tried to enter Macau, reported […]

China: U.S. rock band forced to cut songs from setlists

Heavy metal band Metallica’s concerts in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai had certain songs removed from their setlists due to China’s censorship policies, reported South China Morning Post on 23 January 2017. Metallica frontman James Hetfield told the newspaper: Why shouldn’t you respect their culture when you’re there as a guest and you’ve been invited […]

China: Imprisoned Tibetan singer released after completing sentence

Tibetan singer Achok Phulshung was released from prison on 2 February 2017 after completing his four-and-a-half year prison sentence for singing songs praising the Dalai Lama and about Tibetans killed in 2008 during peaceful protests, reported The Tibet Post International on 3 February 2017. “We welcome the release of Achok Phushung, but note with great […]

China: Ministry of Culture allegedly blacklists 55 artists

China has allegedly blacklisted 55 artists, mostly musicians, a majority of whom are from Hong Kong and Taiwan, who have participated in pro-democracy movements or expressed political views that China deems objectionable, reported Quartz on 11 January 2017. Hints of the blacklist came a week earlier, on 6 January, when works by some pop artists […]

China: Art film censored by cultural bureau

On 7 November 2016, the Shanghai Cultural Bureau censored a film by artist Sun Xun at the private Minsheng Art Museum without giving a reason, reported The Art Newspaper on 8 November 2016. A sign next to the empty screen that was to show Sun’s 2011 woodcut animation ‘Some Actions which Haven’t Been Defined Yet […]

China: New film law to “promote socialist core values”

Chinese lawmakers passed the country’s first extensive film law set to take effect in March 2017, which directs filmmakers to produce films that “serve the people and socialism”, “prioritise social benefits”, and don’t “jeopardise national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity”, reported Chinese news agency Xinhua on 7 November 2016. The Film Industry Promotion Law in […]

China: Two Tibetan singers released after serving out four-year prison terms

On 3 October 2016, Tibetan singers Chakdor and Pema Trinley were released from prison after serving out their four-year sentences in a prison in China’s southwestern Sichuan province and have returned to their hometown, reported Radio Free Asia on 6 October 2016. An anonymous source told the news outlet that they were welcomed by their […]

China: Singer’s music scrubbed from online music services due to Hong Kong activism

Music fans in China have reported that several major Chinese music and video streaming platforms, as well as the Chinese iTunes store, have removed, blocked or filtered out the music and online content of pop star Denise Ho, who has been active in the Hong Kong independence and pro-democracy movement since 2014, as well as […]

China: Tibetan poet re-detained after being released from prison one day earlier

Chinese authorities took writer and poet Gangkye Drupa Kyab back into custody just one day after his early release, having spent over four years of a five-and-a-half year sentence in a prison in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, reported Radio Free Asia on 23 September 2016. Kyab was released on 16 September and went back to […]

China: Ai Weiwei pulled from exhibition under political pressure

Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was dropped from the Yinchuan Biennale exhibition just weeks before it was scheduled to open due to “governmental pressure”, as confirmed by the Biennial Foundation, the New York-based group organising the exhibit, reported The New York Times on 26 August 2016. The artist received what he called “a vague letter” […]

China: Actor fired from film for “vague” Taiwan stance

Taiwanese actor Leon Dai, who played the lead character in Chinese romance ‘No Other Love’, was fired from the film for his alleged support of Taiwanese independence, reported Variety on 15 July 2016. In a statement, the film’s director Zhao Wei and investors apologised “for hiring the wrong person” and stated they were not “satisfied” […]

China: State agency reportedly bans South Korean stars over diplomatic feud

Officials from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television have allegedly passed down “verbal orders” to TV stations that approvals for South Korean programmes or those featuring South Korean stars would not be granted for the time being, reported South China Morning Post on 2 August 2016. Further, according to the new […]

China: Government arts association expels “vulgar” artist

Chinese artist and calligrapher Sun Ping has been expelled from the China Artists Association (CAA) due a performance piece deemed “vulgar” that features women painting calligraphy using brushes held inside their vaginas, reported The Independent on 16 June 2016. The CAA said in a statement: In recent years, Sun Ping used the name of performance […]

China: Tibetan film director detained, hospitalised

Chinese police at the airport in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, detained Tibetan director Pema Tseden on 25 June 2016 for five days for “disturbing public order” and was hospitalised during that time on 27 June 2016 after he “displayed health problems”, reported The New York Times on 29 June 2016. Staff members and […]

China: American singer banned due to Dalai Lama meeting

American pop star Lady Gaga is the latest addition to the ever-growing list of artists banned by China for their meetings with the Dalai Lama or stances on Tibet, reported The Guardian on 28 June 2016. The singer met with the Dalai Lama on 26 June 2016 at the US Conference of Mayors for approximately […]

China: Political art installation pulled from public space in Hong Kong

Government officials and exhibition organisers pulled a light installation just five days into its run set to be projected onto the façade of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the ICC tower, from 17 May 2016 to 22 June 2016 after the artists revealed that part of the piece had a political message, reported the BBC on […]

Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

Freemuse Annual Statistics on Censorship and Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2015 Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in far too many countries. The Freemuse annual report summarises censorship and threats on artistic freedom in 2015 in over 70 countries. In total, Freemuse registered 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists and violations of […]

South Korea: Dance group performances cancelled due to Chinese threats

New York-based dance troupe Shen Yun has felt China’s long reach in South Korea when they found their recent scheduled performances cancelled by court order “explicitly citing threats by the Chinese embassy”, reported The Diplomat on 9 May 2016. The trouble between Shen Yun, the Korean Broadcasting Service (KBS) which runs the theatre venue KBS […]

China: British heavy metal band forced to alter show

Iron Maiden have become the latest band to change their live performance in order to satisfy the Chinese government. The metal veterans played two shows in China – in Beijing and Shanghai – in the last week of April 2016. The band had to change lyrics and drop special effects and stage props, according the […]

China: American pop star tour dates cancelled

Chinese authorities have allegedly banned US pop star Selena Gomez from performing two dates in the country on her Revival Tour due to photos of her with the Dalai Lama posted on her social media profiles in 2014, reported The New Zealand Herald on 20 April 2016. The singer was set to play in Guangzhou […]

China: New guidelines ban multiple topics from tv

Chinese censors issued an eight-page document on 31 December 2015 on the production of tv content, forbidding a wide range of topics, including same-sex relationships, CNN reported on 3 March 2016. Though the document was released at the end of 2015, Chinese media only began reporting on the new guidelines at the end of February […]

China: Hollywood film banned from release

The world’s second-largest theatrical market has denied release of Ryan Reynold’s superhero blockbuster ‘Deadpool’ due to its violence, nudity and graphic language, reported The Hollywood Reporter on 17 January 2016. Hollywood Reporter sources told the news site that China’s censorship authorities, who often work with Hollywood studios to produce “cleaned-up” versions of movies, said it […]

Bangladesh: Tibetan art exhibit censored under Chinese pressure

The Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Ma Mingqiang, found the ‘Last Words’ exhibit at the Dhaka Art Summit “offensive” and called for its removal as it featured copies of handwritten letters written by five Tibetans before they self-immolated in protest against the Chinese government, reported ArtNet News on 9 February 2016. Organisers of the summit felt […]

China: Singers banned for nationalist statements and actions

Taiwanese-born singer Michael Huang’s songs and appearances on shows have been banned on Taiwanese media after he made critical comments against a teen pop star holding up the island’s flag during her appearance on a TV show, reported Now K Pop. On 8 January 2016 Huang posted a message on popular Chinese micro-blogging site Sina […]

China: Hip-hop group censored and detained

Chinese rap trio IN3 may never be able perform in Beijing after garnering the current unenviable status of having the top 17 spots in China’s list of 120 banned songs, according to the Daily Mail. Due to the blacklist the Beijing-based group has had a difficult time finding venues to play, going as far as […]

China: Concert with North Korean band cancelled

The North Korean pop group Moranbong Band was scheduled to perform in Beijing, China, on 12 December 2015 to cultivate ties between the two countries, but their concert was abruptly cancelled without explanation a few hours before they were to have entered the stage at the city’s National Centre. A concert with the North Korean […]

China: Authorities ban art exhibition on violence against women

Beijing authorities banned an art exhibition about feminism and domestic violence just before it was set to open, organisers said on 26 November 2015. The exhibition, timed for the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was due to open on 25 November 2015 at Beijing’s Gingko Space art gallery. More […]

China: Publishers pledge to fight censorship

On 15 October 2015, twelve major US publishers have pledged to work together against Chinese censorship practices on works by foreign authors. The pledge comes after findings from a PEN May 2015 report, ‘Censorship and Conscience,’ showing that upon translation, books by foreign authors were censored, often without the knowledge of its authors or publishers. […]

China: New film law to address censorship

A draft of China’s first film law aims to ease and clarify the country’s censorship process, though regulations will continue to exist. The law was debated on 30 October 2015 by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, ABC News reported. The country’s film market is heavily regulated and nebulous, leaving filmmakers routinely unclear […]

China: Tibetan musician released from prison

Chinese authorities had sentenced Pema Rigzin to two and a half years in prison, but released him after 11 months. After his release, a crowd welcomed him home. Freemuse welcomes the release of Pema Rigzin (also spelled: Rigdzin). “Many Tibetan singers produce songs about issues of concern to a majority of the population,” said Ole […]

China: Malaysian rapper told to make no controversial statements

The Malaysian rapper Namewee (real name: Wee Meng Chee) has become the latest to join a growing number of artists and brands facing limitations on their performance in China. Namewee posted a statement on Facebook on 19 October 2015 that he had been forced by his Hong Kong concert promoter to declare that he wouldn’t […]

China: Artist on censorship and finding freedom in the provinces

Provincial cities like Wuhan might provide more freedom from official intervention, reported Lise Movius in The Art Newspaper on 23 September 2015 in connection with her interview with Zhang Dali – an artist who is known for his controversial graffiti, paintings and sculptures and who is now due to have his first retrospective in Wuhan. […]

China: 120 songs banned for promoting obscenity and violence

On 10 August 2015, China released a blacklist of songs claiming they promote obscenity or violence and ordered website administrators to remove them from their sites, according to Xinhua News Agency. The order from the Ministry of Culture accompanied a list of 120 songs that trumpeted “obscenity, violence, crime or harmed social morality”. The list […]

China: US pop group banned because of a tweet

The US pop group Maroon 5 have felt the wrath of China’s stringent government policies, getting banned from entering the country allegedly after posting a tweet showing support for the Dalai Lama. The group’s Beijing and Shanghai concerts scheduled for September 2015 as a part of their larger Asian tour were cancelled with no official […]

Ecuador: Dance performance cancelled under pressure from Chinese embassy

On 22 May 2015, Falun Dafa – an organisation responsible for bringing the dance show “The Monkey King” by the Shen Yun Performing Arts Company to Ecuador, reported it had been the victim of censorship, following the decision of the Ecuadorian House of Culture to suspend activities at the National Theatre, affecting performances of the show […]

China: Tibetan monk and artist reportedly arrested

41-year-old Tibetan monk and artist of traditional thanka painting, Ngawang Gyaltsen, is reported to have been arrested by Chinese police in Nagchu County of Central Tibet on 24 February 2015. The exact reason of his arrest remains unclear, reported Ngawang Tharpa, an exile Tibetan with contacts in the region, said his sources indicated the arrest […]

Russia, China and Turkey top yearly list of music freedom violations

Freemuse monitored and documented violations of freedom of expression for musicians on in 2014. Musicians around the world are facing imprisonment, attacks, and censorship in attempts by government and non-state actors to silence the music. In 2014, Freemuse registered a total number of 90 attacks and violations against musicians’ rights to musical freedom of expression. […]

China: Writers arrested in new wave of repression, alerts PEN International

PEN International has joined PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center in expressing alarm over a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. PEN International reported that four prominent intellectuals were […]

China: Tibetan folk singer sentenced to two and a half years in prison

On 27 November 2014, the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, sentenced the well-known folk singer and music producer Pema Rigzin to two and a half years in prison and a fine of 50,000 yuan (US$ 8,130) for composing, releasing, and distributing music with alleged political overtones. Pema Rigzin, 44, was detained on 7 […]

China: Tibetan singer sentenced to four years in prison

The popular Tibetan singer Kalsang Yarphel has been given a four year imprisonment verdict for belting out songs calling on Tibetans to speak their own language and to forge unity among themselves. Kalsang Yarphel, 39, was sentenced by a court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where he had been held since being detained […]

PEN International: Day of the Imprisoned Writer

15 November 2014 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. PEN International launched the first Day of the Imprisoned Writer in 1981, with the aim of focusing much-needed global attention on imprisoned, murdered or otherwise harassed writers. Since then, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer has become a key campaigning event […]

China: President delivers directions to artists

On 15 October 2014, the Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech about the importance of arts to some of China’s leading creative figures. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping as having said that “Academic and artistic democracy should also be promoted to allow for full discussions between groups holding different […]

China: Authorities have arrested numerous artists

Chinese authorities are reported to have arrested at least five artists on the Chinese mainland who have shown support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Chinese authorities are determined to prevent pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong from spilling across the border into the mainland, so they have detained at least 10 people, including a […]

China: Censored poet and exiled musician sidetrack oppression

Thanks to Internet connectivity, Tibetan artists inside and outside Tibet are finding new ways to communicate and collaborate. But to the Tibetans inside Tibet, this is at a high risk. By Dechen Pemba   “Music is like the wings of a bird that can fly over man-made borders.” Woeser In July 2013, a musical collaboration […]

USA: Ai Weiwei exhibition features music by imprisoned musicians

A new exhibition by the acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opened on 27 September 2014 on Alcatraz near San Fransisco, USA. It features music by Tibetan singer Lolo and Pussy Riot, highlighting threads which connect artists around the planet who face harassment, pressure, persecution, prosecution and even death for expressing their opinion and their art. […]

China: Censorship of independent art has never been harsher

China says it wants to promote ‘culture’ but its censorship of independent art has never been more systemic, reports Oiwan Lam from Beijing, where authorities clamped down on yet another independent film festival in August 2014. By Oiwan Lam Chinese authorities shut down the 11th Annual Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF) and arrested the festival’s […]

China: Arts and social media increasingly restricted

The director of the annual Beijing Independent Film Festival was jailed and forced to promise not to open the festival. The move comes as social media, arts, and religion are increasingly restricted. China sees and intensified campaign against activity not considered in line with orthodox party thinking under President Xi Jinping. The broadening range of […]

China: Inflatable frog censored after comparisons to ex-leader

China’s newest celebrity is a large inflatable toad floating in the middle of a Beijing pond, but mentions of the giant frog have disappeared from some of China’s news and social media sites after some netizens pointed out similarities to Jiang Zemin, China’s retired leader. » Sourced through from:

China: Art exhibition with North Korean artist shut by police

The North Korean artist and dissident Sun Mu, who for security reasons has a secret identity, has been prevented from exhibiting his work in China. This was reported by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and the South Korean news agency Yonhap. At the opening of Sun Mu’s exhibition of satirical imitations of North Korean propaganda at […]

Amnesty International on silencing of filmmakers: ‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’

Steven W. Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, and writer and film director Gregory Nava have written an article in Huffington Post’s The Blog about the silencing of filmmakers and other artists in countries such as China, Iran and Russia. “Freedom of expression is both an essential human right and a foundational requirement […]

China: Tibetan artists have to tread an incredibly fine line

Braving high risks and heavy censorship in China, Tibetan musicians sing their love for Tibet. by Dechen Pemba   Gebey, a Tibetan singer who had been detained at the end of May 2014 following a live performance in Ngaba Prefecture, eastern Tibet, has been released from detention. Gebey (sometimes spelled Gaybay or Gepey) has chosen […]

China: Government censors exclude artists from Xinjiang Biennale

Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan is one of 80 artists forced to withdraw from the 2014 Xinjiang Biennale held in the autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang Uyghur. The artist had been invited to participate and submitted his project ‘Procedure Room’, which pictures police torture in the Ukraine on a set of decorative plates. Nikita Kadan’s project […]

China: Exclusive essay by Ai Weiwei: ‘On Self-Censorship’

This month, Ai Weiwei withdrew his work from a show at Beijing’s influential Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a tribute to the late scholar Hans Van Dijk, with whom he worked closely, reported Huffington Post. It was a move made in protest: In a series of correspondences that surfaced online, UCCA chief Xue Mei admitted […]

China: Artist detained for two weeks and then to be expelled

52-year-old Chinese-born Australian artist Guo Jian was abruptly taken by police from his studio in Songzhuang on 1 June 2014. He will reportedly be “required to depart China” after serving a 15-day period of “administrative detention”. Mr Guo was detained the day after the publication of an interview with him in Financial Times, which featured […]

China: Popular Tibetan singer arrested after packed concert

Chinese authorities in Khyungchu County have arrested the popular Tibetan singer Gepey following a packed concert participated by several other singers from various parts of Tibet on May 24, reported Gepey was arrested by Barkham County Public Security Bureau after a concert that was attended by thousands of fans and music enthusiasts. A group […]

China: Renewed crackdown on writers | PEN International

Five prominent dissident writers have been arrested for taking part in events to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy protests, reported PEN International.     On 4 and 5 May 2014, some of the participants at a memorial on 3 May were taken in for questioning by police. Most […]

China: Australian novelist refuses to bow to censorship demands

Australian thriller writer LA (Louisa) Larkin has refused to bow to censorship demands from Chinese printers, instead withdrawing her work from a Reader’s Digest anthology, reported Sydney Morning Herald. LA Larkin’s book, ‘Thirst’, was being produced in China when the printers downed tools, insisting references to “Falun Gong” and “torture” be removed. Larkin said her […]

China: ‘Art martyr’ Ai Weiwei asks for his passport back

“With his art, Ai Weiwei bears witness and reflects on the political oppression in his home country. And that’s exactly how he has managed to become a global brand, a sort of art martyr from China, whose work is celebrated all over the globe, from Berlin to New York. (…) In fact, Chinese authorities are […]

China: Artists and filmmakers launch tirade against film censorship

Chinese authorities urged to allow artistic freedom after delegates spot censorship clause in work report. What was meant to be a run-of-the-mill panel discussion on the government’s work report among art experts in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s (CPPCC) turned into a grumbling session this week, as personalities like actor Jackie Chan and award-winning […]

Artist Alert: December 2013 and January 2014 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 12 February 2014: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

China: Authorities tightens regulations for books and online films

Chinese authorities are requiring makers of online films to gain licenses and report their content before it is posted, tightening regulation of what in recent years has been a more freewheeling genre than China’s traditional film industry. China’s online video sites have provided an accessible platform for filmmakers of all kinds to post their work, […]

China: ‘Tiananmen singer’ Cui Jian censored

The Chinese musician Cui Jian whose song became the unofficial anthem for demonstrating students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests declined a major public appearance over censorship concerns. Cui Jian was due to play at China’s Spring Festival Gala, one of the most watched programmes anywhere on the planet which draws a tv audience of […]

China/USA: The battle over censorship

“There is great and welcome continuity in the struggle against censorship and authoritarian rule.” China’s Wei Jingsheng, author of the 1978 democracy manifesto that brought him 18 years in Chinese jails, voices absolute confidence that today’s counterrevolutionary assault on the freedom of thought will fail. » See on

UN Special Rapporteur requested to discuss Tibet with Chinese government

Freemuse has requested the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed, to discuss the imprisonment of nine Tibetan singers with the Chinese government. The artists Lolo, Shawo Tashi, Pema Tinley, Chakdor and Choksal have been given sentences of between one and six years. The crimes for which they have been […]

China: Free jailed Tibetan singers, stars tell China

In 2013, China jailed seven Tibetan singers after they wrote and performed songs celebrating Tibet, opposing China’s occupation and calling for freedom. They join three other singers imprisoned in 2012. Peter Gabriel and Radiohead back campaign to free the imprisoned Tibetan singers who have received prison sentences of up to six years Peter Gabriel, Thom […]

China/Hong Kong: Artists demand freedom from interference

More than 250 artists and arts groups have signed a petition urging the government to review its arts policy, as part of a campaign to protect autonomy and creative freedom. Campaign organisers also want the government to introduce guidelines that will prevent interference in the creative process by the management of arts organisations. The campaign was […]

China: Campaign to protect free speech in Tibet

To highlight the fast shrinking space for writers and artists to freely and fearlessly express their views and to pressure China to respect Tibetan rights, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, in partnership with Voice of Tibet and Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts is running a ‘Banned Expression’ campaign on social media and on official […]

Artist Alert: November 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 5 December 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

China: Tibetan writer sentenced to five years in prison

Topden, a 30-year-old nomad and a writer who writes under the pseudonym Dro Ghang Gah was arrested on 28 October 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison on 30 November 2013, reported the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Allegedly Topden was imprisoned for “keeping contacts with Dalai clique and for engaging in […]

China: Freedom of expression in perilous state | PEN International

Freedom of expression in China remains in a perilous state, PEN International said today, as China appeared before the UN Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights record. Dozens of writers, journalists and bloggers remain in prison simply for peacefully expressing their views, many serving harsh prison sentences, the […]

Artist Alert: October 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 14 November 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

China: Hong Kong Ballet ‘self-censorship’ spurs debate on freedom of expression

Suggestions that Hong Kong Ballet removed images from performance because of ‘sensitivities’ prompt worries about freedom of expression, wrote South China Morning Post on 4 November 2013. See on and on

Authors accept censors’ rules to sell in China

Western writers often face a difficult choice: accept a censor’s heavy hand or bypass the world’s biggest market. » Read the story on » Freedom of expression in LITERATURE AND POETRY

Artist Alert: June 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published at on 17 July 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

China: Two Tibetan singers sentenced to two years in prison

Two Tibetan singers, Pema Trinley, 22, and Chakdor, 32, who were detained in 2012 for releasing a music album titled ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’ are reported by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy to have been secretly sentenced to two years in prison. The two singers come from a nomadic village called Meuruma. […]

China: Video and song by Ai Weiwei banned

The song and video for ‘Dumbass’, the first track from Ai Weiwei’s forthcoming heavy metal album, ‘Divine Comedy’, are being blocked on the Chinese Internet — along with the search term “Ai Weiwei”, reported several news media. The track reconstructs Ai Weiwei’s 81-day detention in 2011, including what he says is an exact model of […]

CNN’s ‘On China’: Talk about censoring contemporary art

“Which topics can you not talk about as an artist?” asks Kristie Lu Stout, host of the American tv-channel CNN’s programme ‘On China’, talking with guests in the studio about censorship of contemporary art in China. In this 2-minute excerpt from the programme, Wang Chunchen, curator of China Pavilion in Venice Biennale 2013, replies with […]

United Kingdom: Play about Ai Weiwei’s fight for freedom of expression in China

A theatre play about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei premiered on a London theater on 16 April 2013. The 19 April performance of the play will be streamed online around the globe. It’s uncertain whether Internet users in China will be able to see it, though. The reason for streaming the play is, according to […]

China: American western pulled from screens on its opening day

Following an announcement that the Beijing International Film Festival and cinemas across the country would be screening ‘Django Unchained’ for select audiences, Chinese authorities banned the American movie from release and interrupted the film during its first screening. On 11 April 2013, cinemas across the country had to abruptly cancel the screening of Quentin Tarantino’s […]

China: Apple censors Tibet book app

The app, ‘Jingdian Shucheng’, which offers access to ten books via the iPhone and iPad, has been removed from the App Store in China. Hao Peiqiang, the Beijing-based developer of the app, said Apple told him it had taken the step to censor it because it “includes content that is illegal in China”. According to […]

China: German band Kraftwerk banned for being pro-Tibetan

The German electronic band Kraftwerk have apparently fallen foul of the Chinese authorities, not for their lyrics or their dissolute ways, but for something they did 14 years ago: In 1999, they were scheduled to perform at a pro-Tibetan independence concert in 1999. According to reports in Beijing, the ministry of culture denied the German […]

China: Differences between censorship of film, tv and literature

In China, a film could be banned for 20 years, while the novel on which the film is based, sells briskly throughout that same period without any interference from the state censors. How come? Why is the Cultural Revolution and other sensitive topics regularly discussed in print but remain off-limits on film? Yu Hua, the […]

Mongolian dissident writer wins Hellman/Hammett Grant

Ms. Huuchinhuu Govruud, also known as Gao Yulian, a Southern Mongolian dissident writer, activist, and member of a banned organisation called the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, won the prestigious Hellman/Hammett Grant for 2012, being one of 41 recipients from 19 countries. In early November 2010, Huuchinhuu was arrested by the Chinese authorities for rallying the […]

China: Open letter against film censorship rules

In an open letter to the Chinese authorities, the award-winning film director Xie Fei accuses his country’s censorship rules of ‘killing artistic exploration’. He urges the Chinese censors to give clearer rules on banned topics. It “has only become a corrupt black spot for controlling the prosperity of the cultural and entertainment industry, killing artistic […]

China: ‘Gangnam for Freedom’ – Solidarity dance videos flourish

Ai Weiwei’s censored parody of the famous South Korean music video ‘Gangnam Style’ has created a special Internet trend: solidarity dance videos In October 2012, China’s best-known dissident artist Ai Weiwei presented a music video on the net, ‘Ai Weiwei does gangnam style’, dancing with handcuffs to symbolise Beijing’s efforts to silence him, which was […]

China: Campaign for imprisoned writer and poet

An international campaign has been launched by PEN International in partnership with the Dublin-based human rights group Front Line Defenders to call for the release of poet and writer Liu Xiaobo — and that of all those currently detained in the P.R. China in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and […]

China: Banned songs by detained Tibetan singers translated to English

Information about the current situation for persecuted artists in Tibet is scarce, and in particular on the English-speaking part of the Internet where it is almost non-existing. An exiled Tibetan runs a website which aims to change that. “After the conference in Oslo I felt inspired to translate more music videos from Tibet into English, […]

China: Blocked videos and independent films

China’s best-known dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s parodic ‘Gangnam Style’ video was blocked by Chinese authorities within 24 hours after it was uploaded to China’s video sharing site Tuduo on 24 October 2012. The original ‘Gangnam Style’ music video by South Korean artist Psy featuring his infamous horse-riding dance is the Guinness World Record holder for […]

The invisible red line – maneuvering Chinese art censorship

Art can both reflect and shape reality. It is the fear of this power to amplify and produce meaning which inspires censorship. In their quest for freedom of expression, Chinese artists have had to face a variety of censorship strategies. Some are rooted in politics, while others hold to conservative moral and aesthetic codes. This […]

China: Censorship officers order paintings covered or removed

At a recent show in the  M97 gallery in Shanghai, censorship officers ordered several paintings covered or removed, even after pre-approving the works, reported Al Jazeera in a video report on Youtube: ‘China art bears brunt of leadership change’. China is set for one of its clandestine, once-every-decade leadership changes, and in the country’s art […]

China: Russian artist refused to follow Chinese censors’ ultimatum

“The Chinese officials gave me an ultimatum to remove the first two questions from the installation [‘Moscow Poll’]. I did not agree to their demands and refused to participate in the biennale,“ the Russian artist Yuri Albert said. The works of four Russian artists were to be exhibited in the Moscow Pavilion in the 2012 […]

China: Provocative artists intimidated with seizures and imprisonment

Issue 34 of the German magazine Der Spiegel contains a long article about how authorities in China allegedly intimidate provocative artists with tax laws, seizures, and imprisonment as tools to repress dissident voices. The article is primarily based on interviews with two gallery owners and the 30-year-old artist Zhao Zhao who has been Ai Weiwei’s […]

China: Danish singer banned by censorship authorities

The Danish singer and rapper Linkoban, known as Ling Ly in China, performed twice in Beijing in July 2012, despite the fact that she had been banned by the Chinese censorship authorities. Linkoban and her crew of dancers had to make a number of last-minute changes on their China tour after the Chinese authorities imposed […]

China: Increased control on music publishing in Tibet

New measures by Chinese authorities involve significantly increased controls in the Tibetan music publishing, reported Human Rights Watch on 13 July 2012. In the lead-up to the 18th Party Congress, due to take place in late 2012, restrictions on news, media, and communications in Tibet have been stepped up by Chinese authorities. The measures also […]

Ai Weiwei in new documentary film: ‘State censorship fuels my art’

A new documentary film, ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’, portrays China’s most iconic artist and activist. It was shown at the opening night gala of Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, which took place in Toronto, Canada, in May 2012, and it was reviewed with superlatives such as ‘powerful’, ‘essential’, ‘provocative’ and ‘stunning’. American filmmaker […]

China: Tibetan singer arrested and taken to unknown location

Fear for the safety of Tibetan singer Lo Lo who was arrested on 19 April 2012 and whose whereabouts and fate since then are unclear. According to the information received, the 29-year-old singer Lo Lo was arrested in Yushul region of eastern Tibet on 19 April 2012 and taken to an unknown location by local […]

Visual artist banned in China

An exhibition with works of the Germany-based artist Simon Raab, which was scheduled to open in Beijing, was closed and the art work returned to Germany. Simon Raab’s banned art includes an abstract piece entitled ‘Tibetan Flags’ from a series called ‘From Behind These Bars’. “Perhaps it was naive of Raab to imagine that a […]

Ai Weiwei: Chinese censorship of the internet will fail

In April 2012 Ai Weiwei turned his attention to China’s censorship of the internet, in a comment piece penned for The Guardian where concluded that the Chinese government will ultimately fail to control the internet as the web is “uncontrollable”. Ai Weiwei writes: “China may seem quite successful in its controls, but it has only […]

Self-censorship to keep Chinese authorities on board

The London Book Fair, which is one of the biggest international publishing events in the world and which is focusing on China this year, is facing claims it has bowed to pressure from Chinese authorities by failing to invite dissident and exiled writers to April’s event, choosing only state-approved authors. “It is shocking enough that […]

China: Literary magazine stopped after one issue

When 28-year-old Chinese author Han Han  launched the literary magazine Dangzhongyang, its first edition sold all 1.5 million copies. But it had a short life. The publishing partners fell off and he now writes on his blog – which has a readership of about 300 million people – that there will never be a number […]



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