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China Faces A Sudden Case Of Rock & Roll Fever

As they develop a passion for pop gatherings, Chinese music enthusiasts are creating new market opportunities for organizers and sponsors. Authorities are allowing the shows to go on, but with a discrete presence of state police. And state censors.

Midi Festival in Shanghai, May 2011
Midi Festival in Shanghai, May 2011
Brice Pedroletti

In Tonzhou, a fashionable new suburb southeast of Beijing, Canal Park is getting ready to host one hell of a party: a rock festival called Caomei (pronounced "tzaomai"). Surprisingly perhaps, the festival's organizer, Shen Lihui, had no trouble securing access to the public space. In fact, the local government approached him. "We came to see and found that the place had potential," says Lihui, who also heads a music label called Modern Sky.

Sporting trendy sunglasses and squeezed into a long, fitted jacket and leather boots despite the heat, curly-haired Shen is running a booming business. Tens of thousands of rock fans are expected to come. A long list of companies have eagerly agreed to sponsor the event, from Ray-Ban to Dell to Yili, a Chinese yogurt producer.

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Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Sveiki!*

Welcome to Thursday, where more Ukrainian soldiers surrender in Mariupol, Sri Lanka defaults on its debt,and George W. Bush offers an epic geopolitical gaffe. Meanwhile, Lili Bai in Chinese-language digital media The Initium looks at what’s driving the current “expat exodus” at play in Shanghai.

[*Latvian]

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