Sir Elton John shocked his audience at a gig in Beijing when he dedicated his performance to artist and critic Ai Weiwei.
The figure, who has had frequent run ins with the Chinese government, was honoured by the singer for his "spirit and talent."
His comments evoked a murmur of shock within the audience, who are used to strict censorship controls at Western music events. Online Chinese media sites chose not to cover the remark.
The regime have already recently tightened controls on public performances after Icelandic songstress Bjork shouted "Tibet, Tibet" at the end of a song called Declare Independence in 2008.
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