Cirque du Soleil shocks Beijing audience with Tiananmen 'tank man' image
August 15, 2013 -- Updated 0647 GMT (1447 HKT)
This banned image of Tiananmen's "tank man" shocked audiences when it appeared in a Cirque du Soleil performance in Beijing.
- Cirque du Soleil shocked a Beijing audience by screening an image of "tank man"
- The politically-charged image of the sole protester defying tanks in Tiananmen is banned in China
- The troupe says the show's content was approved ahead of time by Chinese censors
- It has removed the image from its remaining Chinese performances
(CNN) -- A Cirque du Soleil performance left a Beijing audience audibly shocked when a banned image of the iconic Tiananmen "tank man" protester was displayed on giant screens in front of 15,000 people.
The politically-charged image -- of a sole, unarmed protester blocking a line of tanks during a 1989 government crackdown in Tiananmen Square -- was displayed for about four seconds as part of a montage of protest imagery during a performance of Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us," according to a post on That's Beijing magazine's website.
"The result was an audible collective gasp from the audience," wrote That's Beijing's editor, Stephen George, in a post which has since been deleted.
"The very fact it was displayed, so publicly and on such a large movie theater screen in front of so many people -- and in Beijing, of all places -- felt genuinely quite radical," he wrote. "As my friend commented, 'I can't imagine ever being witness to that image being shown in Beijing again, even if I stay here for another 50 years.'"
The image -- and any mention of the massacre itself -- is banned in China, raising questions of how it made it into the show past the attention of government censors.
Cirque du Soleil's publicist Laura Silverman said that "the image was removed immediately and is no longer shown" in the show, the South China Morning Post reported. It quoted her as saying the Canadian performance troupe had submitted the full show for prior approval by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, as visiting performers are required. "Our scheduled performances will go on as planned," she was quoted as saying.
The incident occurred during the first night of a three-night run of the troupe's Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. Subsequent performances proceeded without the "tank man" image. The show continues its China run in Shanghai Friday, before moving to Hong Kong the following week.
The incident made barely a ripple on Chinese social media, although one user of the Twitter-like Sina Weibo service took offence at the image's inclusion. "Why can't you separate politics and art?" read the comment. "What would the Americans think if you put a photo of the collapsing World Trade Center in the show? Keep it out of the performance, stupid French Canadians!"
CNN's CY Xu contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 0435 GMT (1235 HKT)
Traditional teaching methods in rural schools highlight China's education challenges where students struggle with creative learning.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 0052 GMT (0852 HKT)
Laws prohibit discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in China but campaigners say reality suggests a different story.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
China has banned shark fin and bird's nest dishes from official banquets as part of a government crackdown on official extravagance.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0756 GMT (1556 HKT)
With more than a third of the world's bitcoin transactions flowing through one Chinese website, China is at the heart of the bitcoin frenzy.
December 3, 2013 -- Updated 2051 GMT (0451 HKT)
When it comes to mathematics, reading and science, the OECD says Shanghai teens are the best in the world.
December 2, 2013 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
China launched its first lunar probe early Monday, making it the world's third nation to soft-land on the moon.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0521 GMT (1321 HKT)
President Xi Jinping has reshaped China's foreign policy by recalibrating its stresses on sovereignty and stability.
November 28, 2013 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
China sends fighter jets into its newly claimed air defense zone above the East China Sea as Japan's military remains defiant.
A flying ray? A trapped spaceship? No, it's Shenzhen's new airport terminal.
November 28, 2013 -- Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)
Tensions are running high in the skies between China and Japan -- and the United States is refusing to stay on the sidelines.
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 0715 GMT (1515 HKT)
China has declared the creation of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, eliciting criticism from the U.S. and Japan.
November 25, 2013 -- Updated 0937 GMT (1737 HKT)
Wang Zixu was among the 1.1 million hopefuls who packed out school and universities across China to sit the country's civil service exams.
November 25, 2013 -- Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT)
China is busy designing and implementing a bolder foreign policy in light of an anticipated U.S. decline, writes Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt.
November 21, 2013 -- Updated 0353 GMT (1153 HKT)
After presiding over a smooth leadership transition in his first year, what will Xi Jinping's next move be?
November 20, 2013 -- Updated 0238 GMT (1038 HKT)
Taste makers say China's fashion landscape is changing, with home-grown designers and brands ready to challenge their Western counterparts.
Today's five most popular stories