By appearing to come out in favor of independence for Tibet, which China claims is an integral part of the People’s Republic, Björk violated a key Chinese political taboo.
As reports and videos of the incident began circulating on the Internet, Chinese Web sites featured a flood of angry reactions such as “Call the relevant authorities !” and “Away with her !”
For those at the show, however, it was a different story. “It was a very brave thing to do,” says Alex Pasternack, an American who lives in Beijing. “I was thinking of Tibet already, because the lyrics of that song are so explicitly about declaring independence.”
Pasternack says there wasn’t much of a reaction from the audience to Björk’s remarks. “I looked around for guards or security, but didn’t see any—and (then) the show was over,” he says. “My first thought was, ‘She’s never going to be invited back here again.’”
The show’s promoter, Shanghai-based Emma Entertainment, had no comment on the incident. Shanghai was Björk’s only scheduled China show.