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116 views • April 9, 2018

Danish Theater Bows to Pressure From China to Stop Shen Yun Performing Arts; Report

Celeste Li
A Danish radio station reported last month that the Royal Danish Theater in Copenhagen caved to pressure from the Chinese Embassy to turn down Shen Yun Performing Arts—a classical Chinese dance and music company based in New York. In addition to portraying legends from ancient China, Shen Yun tells stories from contemporary life, including the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of the Falun Gong meditation and qigong practice. Radio24syv obtained an email from a theater employee stating that in an August 2017 meeting with the Chinese Embassy, embassy officials had asked the theater not let Shen Yun perform there. “We have an email saying that the Chinese embassy is putting pressure on the Danish Theater,” said Bente Hagelund, president of the People’s University of Copenhagen. The theater director denied the report, saying that their decision was based on the quality of the performance and not on pressure from China. Shen Yun has performed at prestigious venues around the world, such as New York’s Lincoln Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. “I think they totally crossed the line about what an embassy should do in another country,” said Liberal Party politician Michael Aastrup Jensen. Chinese embassies around the world have tried to meddle in Shen Yun performances for years, with some success. Since Shen Yun was founded in 2006, its shows have been canceled in almost a dozen locations. While the reasons sometimes remain a secret, in many cases they can be traced to Chinese interference: The New York-based company reports that staff members and promoters have had their vehicles tampered with. Shen Yun performers have had their homes broken into, and local government officials have received letters urging them not to attend. However many theaters have stood up to China’s threats and have let Shen Yun perform anyways: Shen Yun reached out to the Royal Danish Theater in 2007, and was close to signing a contract that year, but the theater backed out at the last moment, citing logistical issues. Radio24syv reported that the theater pulled out shortly after officials from the Chinese Embassy met with representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Shen Yun has tried each year to perform there ever since, but with no success. The company was set to perform at another theater in Copenhagen in 2008, but its performances were abruptly canceled and an invitation-only concert, put on by the Chinese Embassy, was shown at the venue instead. Danish newspaper Politiken reported that Denmark’s Aarhus Concert Hall also received pressure from the Chinese Embassy in 2016, but went ahead and scheduled two Shen Yun performances. NTD News
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