Sydney Morning Herald: WA apologises after China embarrassed over Taiwan dance performance at State Theatre Centre

WA’s taxpayer-owned State Theatre Centre has apologised to the Chinese government after it allowed a Taiwanese performing arts group to hire its facilities.

According to the Perth Theatre Trust, the state government body which manages the theatre, the Chinese consul in WA was embarrassed when “a flag was raised that did not align with the Commonwealth’s one-China policy” at a performance of the Taiwanese Acrobatic Troupe.

In March last year, the Perth Theatre Trust’s venues director Glenn Hall apologised in person at China’s consulate in East Perth when officials requested a meeting about the Taiwanese performance.

Details of the apology were revealed in documents released under freedom of information to a performing arts group linked to Falun Gong which was refused permission by the state government to hire His Majesty’s Theatre.

Falun Gong is a Chinese meditation and religious group banned by Beijing’s communist regime, with practitioners facing arbitrary imprisonment and repressive measures for opposing the government.

Last year it was described by a Chinese foreign ministry official as a “heretical cult and an anti-China political organisation that has always been engaging in smearing campaigns against China”, a claim the group disputes.

A file note by Mr Hall said he told the Perth agent of New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts, which was established by Falun Gong practitioners to promote China’s culture and protest against its authoritarian government, he was concerned the state government’s theatre venues could be brought into disrepute.

Shen Yun, which had previously performed at the Regal Theatre, had been trying to book His Majesty’s Theatre for a dance concert.

The Shen Yun dance troupe received confirmation from the Perth Theatre Trust during the same week as the Taiwan performance it had been “pencilled in” behind another possible booking in March, 2020, at His Majesty’s Theatre.

But despite repeated attempts to confirm, the troupe received a letter in October 2019, from the Perth Theatre Trust’s general manager Duncan Ord advising their request to book His Majesty’s had been declined.

“PTT do not believe that a subsidised state government building is appropriate for this commercial product, which has no alignment to WA or national arts policy,” he said.

This is despite agreeing to permit the Taiwanese Acrobatic Troupe to hire the State Theatre Centre in 2019.

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