In a statement posted on its website this week, Beijing’s culture bureau explained that unspecified misdemeanours meant the artist, who has had repeated run-ins with the law – including for drunken drag racing in a yellow Lamborghini – was unsuitable for Chinese ears.
“Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer,” said the bureau, which was answering a fan’s demand for a “detailed explanation” about the former teen star’s absence from Chinese stages.
“As far as we are concerned, he has engaged in a series of bad behaviours, both in his social life and during a previous performance in China, which caused discontent among the public.” The Bureau did not detail the exact behaviour that had landed Bieber in its bad books, saying only that in order to “purify” China’s performing arts it had decided the singer’s exclusion was appropriate.
The singer performed in China as part of his Believe tour, in 2013, raising eyebrows when he was pictured being carried up the Great Wall of China by his bodyguards.
Beijing’s culture bureau is not, however, conditionally is not averse to reversing its decision “We hope Justin Bieber is able to improve his conduct as he grows up and will once again find public favour,” it said.
Bieber is not the first artist to find himself shut out of China’s potentially vast music industry, although most have been targeted for political, not behavioural reasons.In 2015 Los Angeles band Maroon 5 were forced to scrap shows in mainland China after the group’s keyboard player sent birthday wishes to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
In 2009 Oasis were barred after guitarist Noel Gallagher performed at a Free Tibet concert in New York. His brother Liam now appears to have been forgiven and is scheduled to play solo shows in Beijing and Shenzhen next month.
A version of this story appeared in Guardian UK.