A little while ago I posted something I strongly believe: that the Chinese central government's thin-skinned quashing of "sensitive" topics is a disservice to the Chinese public and an impediment to the country's full development. The (reported) rejection of Bob Dylan's request to hold concerts in China, following a previous turn-down for Oasis, was the occasion for making this point.
But a few minutes after posting that, I got a reply from Zachary Mexico, a music-world figure and author of China Underground, saying that the factual premise for the comment was probably wrong. That is, how do we know that the Chinese government nixed the concert requests? His first note said (quoted with permission):
re: Bob Dylan: I have it on good authority that the Chinese government did not deny Bob Dylan permission to play in China. It was the Taiwanese promoter's outlandish financial requests that made the tour unrealistic.
re:Oasis: I have heard from several mostly reliable people that the concerts were cancelled by the promoter, EMMA entertainment (they've since gone out of business) for lack of ticket sales, and not for any political reasons.
Blaming the Chinese government is an easy way out when these tours become financial sinkholes.
I wrote back saying, essentially: Interesting if true! How do we know these things? He pointed me to this report in China Music Radar and gave a variety of other reasons to be skeptical of Dylan's "censorship" claim. I quote them after the jump.