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Chinese Government Blasted for Stones Show

Hong Kong lawmakers accused the Chinese government of false advertising after it was revealed that The Rolling Stones wouldn’t perform in a concert series, as had been announced.

Organizers had said the Stones had committed to play two November dates, part of a government-sponsored concert festival to help Hong Kong refurbish its SARS-battered image.

But it was revealed Friday that they had never signed a deal and that negotiations had collapsed.

“How could you go around touting the band without a contract in hand?” independent legislator Audrey Eu asked at a Saturday hearing reviewing the finances of the Harbor Fest concert series.

The government has already drawn criticism for agreeing to cover as much as $10.2 million in losses, a burden legislators said was better shouldered by the private sector.

Concert promoters have downplayed the Stones’ absence, saying other top acts will be performing, including Carlos Santana, Jose Carreras and Prince. The festival is set to open Friday and run through Nov. 9.

Mike Rowse, head of the sponsoring organization, the investment promotion department, told lawmakers the Stones’ absence would significantly reduce revenue from the series, but insisted the government would end up spending much less than $10.2 million to support it.

The Stones had been set to play Hong Kong and mainland China earlier in the year, but canceled as the severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis was sweeping the region.

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