In an article Monday headlined "American band releases album venomously
attacking China," the Global Times said unidentified Chinese Internet users had
described the album as part of a plot by the West to "grasp and control the
world using democracy as a pawn."
The album "turns its spear point on China," the article said.
Reports suggested that the China National Publications Import and Export
Group, the state-owned monopoly responsible for importing all music, has told
record shops not to bother trying to order the long-awaited album, which took
the band 17 years to produce.
In addition, the album's official website, chinesedemocracy.com, has been
blocked automatically by internet censors, while Baidu, the Chinese version of
Google, is self-censoring any searches for the album.
Chinesedemocracy.com has responded with a poll asking visitors if they
thought the Chinese should be allowed to access it and about 70 per cent of
respondents said yes.
So far, the only way Chinese fans of the rock group have been able to listen
to the album is on the band's Myspace page.
Guns N' Roses became hugely popular in China in the late 1980s, when its
music was associated with the rebellious student movements that flowered before
the massacre in Tiananmen Square.
The album reportedly cost over £9 million to make and may have helped speed
the demise of Axl Rose's record company, Sanctuary, and its subsequent buyout by
Universal Music Group. Its 14 tracks, which spread across 77 minutes, have been
described by the New York Times as "the work of a fading rock star with far too
much money and time on his hands, and no one around who could tell him: 'No'."
Axl Rose, the 46-year-old lead singer of Guns N' Roses, is the only original
member of the band left. Chinese Democracy has been gestating since 1991,
meaning that Rose recorded an average of 4.5 minutes of music a year.
In the title track, Rose sings about "missionaries", "visionaries" and
"sitting in a Chinese stew".
It also contains the provocative lines: "Blame it on the Falun Gong, they've
seen the end and you can't hold on now". The Chinese government has outlawed the
spiritual movement as an "illegal cult" and there have been repeated accusations
of the cruel treatment of Falun Gong members.
Chen Zhuo, a Beijing-based visual artist, declined an offer from Guns N'
Roses when the band wanted to use his image of Tiananmen Square rendered as an
amusement park for the cover of the record. Instead, the album cover features a
picture of a bicycle and three red Communist stars.
However, the Ministry of Culture said it did not know whether the album was
banned or not. "This is the first time we've heard about it," said a spokesman,
adding that the ban "might just be a rumour".
On Chinese blog sites, a common platform for teenagers to vent their anger,
few people were upset by the album's lyrics. "How can they know about China if
they have never been. This explains why Americans are always clowns," said one
However, another blogger commented: "Helpless Chinese under the iron fist is
a good song. Where can I buy the album? I'll get angry if I can't buy the