When METALLICA returned to China last month for their first shows in the country after their 2013 Shanghai debut, their censored setlist saw them performing more than an hour with several key hit notably missing: "Master Of Puppets", "One" and "Hardwired".
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield stated he didn't resent the Chinese government for its censorship, and it certainly didn't put him off playing in the country. He said: "Why shouldn't you respect their culture when you're there as a guest and you've been invited to play? We want to be respectful, and just because we do things differently, it doesn't mean it should be forced upon [others]. But hopefully we'll keep coming back and they'll realize we're not a threat politically and we have no agenda except to cross boundaries with music and let people enjoy the songs. We're not trying to bring a secret message to anybody."
Vetting by the Chinese authorities for foreign bands and artists isn't uncommon and has resulted in many big names being refused entry to the country to perform.
The members of METALLICA revealed in 2013 that they were asked to send the lyrics to their entire discography to the Chinese government for approval before they were given permission to play in the country. "We had to give them a whole set of songs and they went through all the lyrics and okayed which ones we could play, which ones we couldn't play," METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett said. "They see a lyric like 'Master Of Puppets' being so subversive that they're not allowing us to play it. It's kind of scary." Added Hetfield: "And that just brings more attention to it, of course. That doesn't work."
METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich also explained that the band's Chinese fans were fully aware of the restrictions that were placed upon the group during their appearance in the country. "What we're talking about here is not a secret. They published it on government web sites — what songs we could play and what we couldn't. I mean, it's fine."
The Chinese ministry of culture monitors music for vulgarity, as well as political content. In 2009, it reportedly ordered a cleanup of online music sites to address "poor taste and vulgar content."