Bob Dylan: China Did Not Censor Me

May 13, 2011

Ever since Bob Dylan performed in China last month, he's gotten a ton of flak. At the time, Reuters reported that the the Chinese cultural ministry allowed Dylan to perform "approved content," and that Dylan "did not sing anything that might have overtly offended China's Communist rulers, like The Times They Are A-Changin'."

The New York Times' Maureen Dowd took him to task for not mentioning the detention of artist Ai Weiwei. "Dylan said nothing about Weiwei's detention, didn't offer a reprise of 'Hurricane,' his song about 'the man the authorities came to blame for something that he never done.' He sang his censored set, took his pile of Communist cash and left," wrote Dowd. She said Dylan was "a new kind of sellout."

Today, the usually reclusive Dylan, released an unusual statement on his website. First he said Mojo magazine was wrong. Young Chinese people went to his concert, he said, not just old ex-pats. And he wasn't censored, he said:

As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There's no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.

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