As diplomatic relations grew tenser between Canada and China last month, one of Canada’s most recognizable entertainment companies withdrew from a prominent Chinese television program.
Cirque du Soleil on Dec. 10 ended negotiations to feature in CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, one of the world’s most-watched TV shows, spokeswoman Stephanie Morissette said. The decision was due to a lack of agreement on contract terms as the February gala grew closer, and was unrelated to the political situation, she said.
“We were really disappointed to withdraw, because this gala is a great marketing opportunity,” Morissette said. “Unfortunately, in order to deliver a performance reflecting what Cirque du Soleil is capable of, it wasn’t possible.”
The arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou -- and China’s subsequent detention of two Canadian nationals -- has prompted an acute diplomatic feud between Ottawa and Beijing, with each side accusing the other of arbitrary law enforcement. Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1, while the two Canadians were detained in China on Dec. 10, the same day as the Cirque’s withdrawal.
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group has been banking on its China expansion to boost ticket sales under guidance from Chinese minority owner Fosun International Ltd. Its first permanent mainland show is set to start in Hangzhou this year.
The news was first reported by Radio Canada, the French-language branch of the state broadcaster.