Sir Elton John stirred up controversy in Beijing on Sunday (November 25, 2012) by dedicating his show to the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. The 65 year-old singer said his performance was in honor of Weiwei's "spirit and talent," reports BBC News.
Weiwei - one of the world's leading sculptors - is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government stance on democracy and was detained for nearly three months last year. According to audience members at Elton's show, a "murmur of shock rippled through the crowd," after the tribute. The British star had met Weiwei at the Wukesong Arena ahead of the concert and the artist later uploading a photograph of himself with Elton before re-tweeting a message from a fan that read, "My favorite thing about Elton John dedicating his concert to @aiww, Party leaders sons and daughters in the audience to hear it!" The singer continues the Asian leg of his world tour this week with shows in South Korea and Kuala Lumpur.
Elton isn't the first western entertainer to criticise the Chinese government during live shows. In 2008, Icelandic singer Bjork caused controversy among fans in China by shouting "Tibet, Tibet" at the end of a show in Shanghai.