Taiwan popsters hit big time in Beijing

Rock stars skedded for Great Hall perf

Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, the Soviet-style bastion of Communism at the heart of the Chinese capital, will host its first pop concerts next month, with three Taiwanese stars lined up to perform.

The Great Hall, which sits next to Tiananmen Square near the Forbidden City, is the venue for China’s annual parliament, the National People’s Congress. But things will get a bit more noisy when Richie Jen and Huang Pinyuan play there on Aug. 11, followed by Jeff Chang Aug 13. Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam plays Aug. 15, followed two days later by the only mainland entertainer, Xu Wei.

The kids can expect to party down as only they know how at the famously staid hall, according to the Xinhua news agency.

“The organizer has won approval from the administrative bureau of the Great Hall of the People for the audience to bring fluorescent sticks and other accessories to cheer along their idols,” it reported, adding that the hall had received a special dispensation for the gigs.

China considers self-governing, democratic Taiwan to be a renegade province and regularly threatens to invade the island if it tries to move toward independence. Despite political tensions, Taiwanese pop stars are huge with China’s teen audience as they also sing in Mandarin, although their occasionally risque lyrics ruffle official feathers.

The 6,000-seat Great Hall has hosted classical concerts or musicals including “Cats” and “Chicago”; latter played the venue last year.

Stadium concerts in Beijing have been suspended since the end of March to allow the city to start renovation work for the 2008 Olympics in the city. The last show was by a Taiwanese artist, Chow Wah Kin.

Other venues in the city, such as the Beijing Exhibition Center, where U.S. hip-hop quartet Black Eyed Peas played to a sell-out crowd last week, are too small to meet the expected huge demand for the popsters.

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