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180 views • January 20, 2019

Chinese Regime Pressure Suspected Behind Shen Yun Show Cancelation in Spain

Celeste Li
Just weeks before New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts is scheduled to perform at one of Spain's major opera houses, the organizers were told that their show was "forced to [be] canceled" due to technical difficulties. But the organizers do not think this is the case. Royal Theater's director sent a letter on Jan. 7 to Puro Arte Humano—the organizers of Shen Yun in Spain–informing them the performance has been canceled citing "unavoidable artistic needs of the stage space." Shen Yun was set to perform at the Madrid theater on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. The director claimed another show, Das Rheingold opera, that had hired the theater the day before and after Shen Yun, would have difficulties dismantling their sets to accommodate the dance and music company. This was something the theater technical managers did not have a problem with at the time the contract was signed. Puro Arte Humano said in a press release that the reason given for the cancelation was pretextual and they suspect the real reason was due to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pressure based on previous experiences. "Puro Arte Humano assures that the Chinese Embassy has pressured the Madrid Coliseum to achieve the cancellation of the show, something that they already tried in Barcelona without success in 2014," the press release said. Sandra Flores Gomez, vice president of Puro Arte Humano, said the cancelation is unacceptable and the circumstances surrounding the incident were "bizarre, strange, [and] unorthodox." "If there is a technical problem you can talk to the technicians of the company and look for a solution," she said. The nonprofit organization said that similar scheduling of the Paris Opera Ballet shows, which is performing in between Das Rheingold opera show dates a week before Shen Yun, was not a problem with the theater and have not been canceled. Madrid's Teatro Real calendar schedule for January 2019. (Puro Arte Humano) Gomez said the Royal Theater has a close relationship with the CCP and had recently agreed to perform operas in China. "It is no secret to anyone that the theater has very good relations with the Chinese Communist Party," she said. "We know that Xi Jinping's wife, in her recent visit to Spain, was visiting the Royal Theater with the queen with all the protocol with which a first lady is received." "[This interference] happens practically in every city that Shen Yun visits. There has always been pressure from the Chinese Embassy to cancel the shows," she added. For more than a decade, while Shen Yun tours the globe, it is not uncommon for the CCP to pressure Western theaters not to lease their space to the performing arts company or pressure them to cancel their shows. The communist regime has even sought to coerce Western government officials not to attend the performances or voice support for the company. Moreover, the CCP uses front groups, who gather outside the theaters around the world to hold up placards with propaganda slogans and hate speech, to disrupt theatergoers while Shen Yun is performing. The most recent example of this was at the Lincoln Center in New York. Past Pressure The CCP has tried similar tactics in the past. In 2014, Chinese diplomats in Barcelona attempted to force the National Theatre of Catalonia to cancel Shen Yun performances. According to El Mundo, the second most widely distributed newspaper in Spain, Chinese Consulate officials assailed the theater, and then the Spanish Foreign Ministry. The regime's representatives went in person to the theater and demanded that the show be canceled because it “went against the interests of the Chinese Communist Party." When visiting senior officials at the Foreign Ministry, the representatives warned that the failure to shut down the cultural performance “may compromise” relations between Spain and China, “subliminally pointed to China’s investments in our country and exports of Spanish products,” El Mundo reported. More recently in 2017, CCP front groups staged a protest in front of the Liceu Theater in Barcelona while Shen Yun was performing in
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