American pop diva Lady Gaga has reportedly found her music banned in China after she met with the Dalai Lama last weekend in Indianapolis and live-streamed the summit on Facebook. Lady Gaga, who enjoys a wide following in China, was blacklisted by Beijing between 2011 and 2014 for “creating confusion in the order of the online music market, and damaging the nation’s cultural security.” At The Guardian, Tom Phillips reports on the alleged ban:
Following Lady Gaga’s meeting, the Communist party’s mysterious propaganda department issued “an important instruction” banning her entire repertoire from mainland China, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily reported on Monday.
[…] Chinese websites and media organisations were ordered to stop uploading or distributing her songs in a sign of Beijing’s irritation, the newspaper said.
The propaganda department also issued orders for party-controlled news outlets such as state broadcaster CCTV and newspapers the People’s Daily and the Global Times to condemn the meeting.
[…] On Tuesday afternoon it was still possible to download Poker Face and Bad Romance on China’s QQ Music and NetEase Cloud Music players. But a report about the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Lady Gaga appeared to have been deleted from the NetEase website. [Source]
As of now I can listen to Lady Gaga's songs on Tencent and xiami. The story is based on Apple Daily's report. Funny. https://t.co/Ny0DK1vX2v
— Pei Li 李沛 (@teamlipei) June 28, 2016
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since the failed 1959 Lhasa rebellion, is considered a “dangerous separatist” by Beijing, despite the fact that he has for decades advocated only for genuine Tibetan autonomy in China. Pressure from Beijing has led many foreign leaders to decline diplomatic interaction with the exiled Tibetan in recent years, and those who do meet with him have come to expect protest from China’s foreign ministry. Other artists who have met with the Dalai Lama have been disallowed from performing in China. Ahead of the meeting, many Chinese fans took to Lady Gaga’s social media accounts to protest her decision, educate her on the Party line, and beg that she stay away from the “evil” Lama.
.@ladygaga's Chinese monster fans are losing it over her upcoming appearance with the @DalaiLama. #Tibet #China pic.twitter.com/fteEmMnOus
— Kunsang Kelden (@KunsangKelden) June 23, 2016
Following the meeting, the singer’s Instagram account was full of berating comments, and a Weibo debate erupted. The Hong Kong Free Press’ Catherine Lai reports:
One Weibo user said: “Goodbye, Lady Gaga, don’t ever think about coming to China again… you hurt the hearts of your Chinese fans.”
Disappointed Chinese fans had chosen “their country over their idol,” as one entertainment commentary piece put it. Another Weibo user said: “Whether Lady Gaga has a political stance or not, she is worshipping a terrorist, an enemy of China. That means she does not care about her Chinese fans or even Chinese people… Leave, Lady Gaga! The earlier she is banned the better! Take down all her songs online!”
A Chinese student studying in Australia wrote an article defending Lady Gaga to Chinese users. “DL is a celebrity to foreigners, an embodiment of love and peace… Besides, the majority of foreigners only understand modern Chinese history as far as Chairman Mao, they’re confused about Taiwan and Tibet independence… We always say the ignorant are not guilty. That’s the situation here.” [Source]
The BBC’s Kerry Allen reports on Chinese fans’ fears that the meeting may mean the end of their chances to see her perform in the mainland:
Many Weibo users are also speculating over whether Lady Gaga’s meeting will mean she is banned from performing in China in the future.
A number of western acts have had their gigs cancelled in the last year, purportedly because of their links to the Dalai Lama.
In April, pop singer Selena Gomez cancelled her August 2016 tour dates in Guangzhou and Shanghai, and rumours circulated that she had been forced to do so because of photos she shared on social media with the Dalai Lama.
Last September, Bon Jovi concerts in Shanghai and Beijing were also cancelled at the last minute, reportedly because the band featured the Dalai Lama in previous gigs.
And in July, a Dalai Lama tweet by one member of Maroon 5 was widely believed to be the reason for the American band’s cancelled Shanghai September tour. [Source]
Another wave of nationalism on Weibo in aftermath of Lady Gaga-Dalai Lama meeting. #祖国面前无偶像# (no idols before the fatherland) now trending.
— Séagh Kehoe (@seaghkehoe) June 28, 2016
At a press conference in Beijing, AFP China correspondent Benjamin Haas asked the foreign ministry if the meeting could indeed complicate her performance prospects in China. The spokesperson, according to Haas, replied with his poker face on:
Me: will @ladygaga meeting with @DalaiLama lead to a bad romance with China?
China Foreign Ministry spokesman: who?
— Benjamin Haas (@haasbenjamin) June 27, 2016
The AP reports foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei’s comments following the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Lady Gaga:
“The purpose of his visits and activities in other countries is just to promote his proposal for Tibetan independence,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday.
Beijing regularly vilifies the Tibetans’ spiritual leader as a political figure who advocates splitting the Himalayan region of Tibet from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he simply wants a higher degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.
[…] Asked about the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Lady Gaga, Hong said: “We hope that people from the international community can be fully aware of his true colors and nature.” [Source]
More from Reuters’ Ben Blanchard and Megha Rajagopalan:
“There is a broad consensus internationally about what kind of person the Dalai Lama is and what he does internationally,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing.
“After the relevant incident happened, if you look at comments on the Chinese Internet, their anger has welled up,” he added, referring to Lady Gaga’s meeting.
Lady Gaga has not remarked on the blowback from Chinese internet users on her social media accounts. Reuters could not immediately reach a representative for comment.
Lady Gaga is popular with many young Chinese but has never held a concert in mainland China, though she has in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau. [Source]
Xinhua also reported that Hong Lei drew attention to netizens’ ire over the meeting, however any mention of the Dalai-Gaga meeting was left out of the official press conference transcript.
Seems like a good time to send out this #Tibetan version of Bad Romance by @ladygaga again, made a few years ago: https://t.co/J62nblGAEh
— High Peaks Pure Earth (@hpeaks) June 28, 2016