The American Chamber of Commerce and a government-funded investment promotion unit have withdrawn an offer to the Rolling Stones to perform at a pop festival in Hong Kong, amid criticism that the veteran British rockers were being overpaid. “After a period of discussion with the Rolling Stones, during which we made them a firm offer and had a contract ready to be signed, we realized that the Rolling Stones were unable to commit to our offer in a timely manner. We have, therefore, decided to withdraw our offer,” organizers said in a statement. A Hong Kong television station also reported that the Stones had canceled what would have been their first performances in Beijing and Shanghai in November. In hopes of relaunching Hong Kong as a tourist destination after the economic disaster of this year’s deadly SARS epidemic, the government promised to underwrite the three-week musical event to the tune of HK$80 million. But the gesture aroused public concern that the money might not be well spent. The Harbor Fest, set to kick off on October 17, features artists such as Prince and Irish boyband Westlife.
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