Ministry of Culture approves Beijing, Shanghai gigs

The times, they are a-changin’. Or at least it looks that way in China, where censors have cleared Bob Dylan for his debut there, even though it had been widely feared the world’s most famous protest warbler would again fall foul of the establishment.

China’s Ministry of Culture gave Dylan permission to perform in Beijing between March 30 and April 12.

Tickets go on sale next week and the mypiao.com website is advertising tix for April 6 in Beijing and April 8 in Shanghai at prices ranging from 280 yuan ($42) to $298.

The official Bob Dylan website lists Taipei on April 3 and Hong Kong on April 12, but no dates in between.

Dylan’s Asia tour also includes Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and there are rumors he may also go to Vietnam on April 10.

The folk legend, who turns 70 in May, was supposed to come to China last year but canceled the Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean legs of his Asian tour reportedly after Beijing’s Culture Ministry refused him permission to play, although some blamed promoter difficulties.

Given that he is the author of 1960s protest classics “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” you could be forgiven for thinking Dylan would have a problem in China.

The Chinese government has been clamping down on any form of protest because of fears of spillover from the revolutions currently shaking North Africa and the Middle East, and there have been tough controls of the media in the past few weeks.

Controversial artists are generally not allowed to play in China, especially since Iceland’s Bjork shouted Tibetan independence slogans at the end of a 2008 Shanghai concert.

However, Dylan has become a lot less political in recent years, and the government has allowed older, less risky rock acts, like the Rolling Stones, to play in China.

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