N Shore Mayor succumbs to China Consulate pressure
Monday April 2, 2007
North Shore Mayor succumbs to Chinese Consulate pressure
Chinese officials in New Zealand are exerting pressure on sponsors and VIPs in attempts to block support for Divine Performing Arts – an international cultural show to be held at The Civic, April 5, 2007.
A phone call from the Chinese Consular General's office to North Shore City mayor George Wood is the latest in a series of events plaguing the global tour, from the USA to Canada, Europe and Australia.
During their 4-month tour the organisers have experienced some severe inteference from Chinese officials trying to halt New Tang Dynasty Television's Chinese New Year Spectacular and Holiday Wonders shows – now Divine Performing Arts.
Mayor George Wood was planning to attend the show with his wife, but after the phone call last week he backed out.
“I don't want to get involved in internal People's Republic of China politics but I also want to maintain a reasonable relationship with the People's Republic of China. They said that [the show] was involved in Falun Gong, they indicated Falun Gong, and I don't know what the true impact of that is, but it obviously has some concerns for them.”
Divine Performing Arts are devoted to recreating the original and divine cultures of humankind, much of which was destroyed during the 1960s Cultural Revolution.
The show portrays dances and narratives that span thousands of years of culture from China, Tibet and Mongolia, and also incorporates scenes from China's most recent history - namely the repression of people who practice the Falun Gong spiritual system.
“I had indicated that I probably would go to the show, but I'm not going to cause an international kerfuffle by going to something that I don't know anything about. I don't know anything about the Falun Gong or whatever it means. I am a mayor of a city not an international diplomat and I haven't really got the time to analyze the thing out,” Mr Wood said.
He does not think it is appropriate for the consulate to try and influence what shows he will attend.
“I don't feel comfortable having to make decisions as a result of phonecalls I receive from a consulate office and I actually indicated that to the consul official. But at the same time, as a mayor I don't have time to analyse out what the merits are for and against what is being said.”
Other incidents have occured throughout the week, including a contracted advertisement in a Chinese newspaper being cancelled without notice; two shops acting as ticket-selling points withdrawing their support - one saying from outside pressure; and promotional posters were defaced.
Before last week's Sydney premiere of the show the Chinese Consulate sent a letter to New South Wales' politicians with a stern warning, urging them not to attend the show.
In a media release on March 29 Australian Greens MLC Ian Cohen said, "I was surprised by the reactions of both the Embassy official and Henry Tsang MLC against this celebration, as seen on last night's Lateline programme on the ABC. This has made me even more determined to attend the function."
Mr Cohen added, "This is a peaceful cultural spectacular. What type of government officials would condemn such an event? A controversial scene is said to depict the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese police. Such persecution is well documented by human rights groups. Art in the West should be free to depict all aspects of society without fear.”
Michelle Ren Divine Performing Arts Lead dancer and choreographer said the interference was common. “They [the Chinese regime] always do these kinds of things.”
Liu Tong the Director of the Spectacular Planning Committee in Chicago said in an interview with The Epoch Times last month, "The regime had taken all measures at all costs to interfere with the NTDTV Spectacular in Chicago this year. They wrote letters and made phone calls to sponsors, government officials, and even the media, attempting to stop them from supporting the show.”
A document was recently obtained by The Epoch Times from China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television revealing the Chinese Communist Party's attempts to interfere with NTDTV's Chinese New Year shows since the inaugural performance in 2004.
The document orders that the NTDTV New Year Show should be destroyed by "any and all means", and if not possible, to "contain them and minimize their impact."
The show is run by New Tang Dynasty Television, a non-profit independent Chinese language television network broadcasting 24/7 in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.
The New York-based Divine Performing Arts Group has experienced full houses on the current 2007 global tour from America, Europe, Asian to Australia, with the show travelling to Taiwan and Korea after New Zealand.
The shows have produced thundering success season after season – ranked 7th best selling show in the US by Billboard magazine in February 2006. Reports from sell-out seasons in the US and Europe suggest, 2007 is by far the best.
Divine Performing Arts New Zealand 2007 show dates:
The Civic, The Edge, Auckland City
Thursday April 5, 2007
2pm and 7.30pm
Tickets available through Ticketek on (09) 307 5000 or ticketek.co.nz
Or contact Divine Performing Arts hotline: (09) 638 3497
Prices range from $95 to $55 and concessions are available