SHANGHAI, China – Icelandic singer Bjork has ignited criticism from Chinese fans after she declared "Tibet! Tibet!" to end a passionate performance of her song "Declare Independence" during a concert in Shanghai.
The outburst at the finale of Bjork's Sunday night concert drew rare public attention inside China to Beijing's often harsh rule over the at times independent Himalayan region of Tibet.
Bjork's statement was not reported in the state-controlled media, but online sites were aflame with angry comment after word leaked out.
"If she really did this, then this woman really makes people throw up," one comment on popular Chinese Web site Sina.com said.
Some at the Shanghai concert said the politically tinged finale made audience members uneasy,
"The atmosphere was very strange, uncomfortable compared to the rest of the concert," said audience member Stephen Gow, a British teacher who lives in Shanghai. People didn't boo, Gow said, but they left the Shanghai International Gymnastic Center hurriedly.
Officials at the China-based company promoting the concert, Emma Ticketmaster, said they had no comment.
Bjork has used "Declare Independence" — the lyrics include the entreaty "Raise your flag!" — to declare political support for various causes.
She dedicated the song to Kosovo while performing last month in Japan. Her video for the song shows her in a jumpsuit bearing the flags of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, far-flung territories controlled by Denmark.
China's 58-year rule over the formerly independent mountain nation of Tibet has drawn frequent condemnation from foreign governments and activists, often inciting a prickly nationalism among the Chinese government and ordinary people. Many Tibetans consider the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as their rightful leader.
In a sign of Bjork's reputation for unpredictable behavior, Shanghai's English-language newspaper, Shanghai Daily, last month heralded her concert date with the headline "Bjork's Shanghai Surprise."