Beijing brands new Guns N' Roses album a venomous attack on China

THE Chinese government has launched a propaganda broadside against American rock band Guns N' Roses, citing their comeback album as an attack on the entire Chinese nation.

The album, entitled Chinese Democracy, went on sale in Europe yesterday amid a huge promotional drive.

But the Communist Party's mouthpiece Global Times newspaper, in an article headlined "American band releases album venomously attacking China", reported that unidentified Chinese internet users had described the album as part of a plot by some in the West to "grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn".

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The article said the album "turns its spear point on China".

China's foreign ministry did not respond to questions about the article, and a spokesman said: "We don't need to comment on that."

The Global Times article referred only to the title of the album and not to specific song lyrics. But the record's title track makes mentions the Falun Gong meditation movement that was banned by China as an "evil cult" and warns "if your Great Wall rocks, blame yourself", in an apparent message to the country's authoritarian government.

Songs from the album could be heard on internet sites such as YouTube and the band's MySpace page yesterday, and it was not immediately possible to tell whether China's rumoured 30,000-strong team of government internet monitors were seeking to block access to it.

Monitors use content filters that highlight and sometimes block messages containing words such as democracy. That prompted some internet users to combine English and Chinese characters in their postings about the album to skirt such monitoring.

China approves only limited numbers of foreign films and recordings for distribution each year, partly due to political concerns but also to protect domestic producers.

Live performances are also closely regulated, with bands forced to submit set lists beforehand. During their 2006 China debut, the Rolling Stones were asked not to play several songs with suggestive lyrics, including Brown Sugar, Let's Spend the Night Together, Honky Tonk Woman and Beast of Burden.

Earlier this year, bandleader Harry Connick jnr was forced to make last-minute changes to his show in Shanghai because an old song list had been mistakenly submitted to the authorities to secure the performance permit for the concert. They insisted he played the songs on the original list, even though his band did not have the music for them.

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That came just a week after the Icelandic singer Bjrk embarrassed the authorities by shouting "Tibet!" at the end of a Shanghai concert, prompting stricter vetting of foreign performers.

Despite such restrictions, computer file sharing and pirating of DVDs, computer games and music CDs is rampant in China, meaning that much banned material is available through alternative channels.


THE title of the album, Chinese Democracy, was inspired, according to a 2001 statement from the Guns N' Roses frontman, Axl Rose, by his watching the 1997 film Kundun, about Tibet's Dalai Lama, and his oppression by Beijing.

Speaking about the title track, Rose told an audience in Las Vegas: "It doesn't have the answer to anything. And it's not necessarily pro or con about China. It's just that, right now, China symbolises one of the strongest yet most oppressive countries and governments in the world."

The album is the most expensive recording ever made, taking some 17 years to complete and costing more than $13 million (8.5 million).

Only Rose is left from the band's original line-up.

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