China has Banned Katy Perry and Gigi Hadid ‘Indefinitely’
Anyone who’s travelled to China can attest to how difficult it can be to get a Chinese visa. And being famous only complicates the process, with Chinese officials combing through celebs’ pasts to make sure they’ve never offended the communist country in any way.
Unfortunately for celebs, a lot of them have. From Brad Pitt to Selena Gomez, dozens of actors and artists have been banned from visiting China over the years. So if you’re planning a trip to China, here are four things that you definitely shouldn’t do. It’s a list of cautionary tales, a mini history lesson in China’s many complicated political relationships and a lesson in how not to be a racist jerk.
1. Don’t wear a sparkly sunflower dress… especially with a Taiwanese flag
Yesterday, news broke that Katy Perry would be the musical headliner at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai. Today, news broke that Katy Perry has been banned from China. According to Page Six, Perry applied for a visa, was granted a visa and then lost the visa when Chinese officials discovered a 2015 incident in which the singer performed in Taipei, wearing a sparkly sunflower dress with the Taiwanese flag draped over her shoulders.
At the time, Katy’s outfit caused minor political outrage: her sparkly costume was seen as a symbol of solidarity with the 2014 Sunflower Student Movement, in which Taiwanese activists protested a trade pact with China in fear of China’s growing influence over their country. The relationship between Taiwan and China has long been complicated, with China wanting to control Taiwan and Taiwan wanting independence. If you get in the middle of this political divide and freely express your political beliefs, China will cancel you. Katy Perry knows that now.
2. Don’t make racist gestures
There’s another Victoria’s Secret star who we won’t seeing in Shanghai: Gigi Hadid. The supermodel sent out a vague tweet yesterday, announcing that she won’t be walking in the VS Fashion Show this year.
I’m so bummed I won’t be able to make it to China this year. Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in spirit!! Can't wait to tune in with everyone to see the beautiful show I know it will be, and already can't wait for next year! :) x
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) November 16, 2017
Remember when Gigi held up a Buddha cookie and squinted her eyes? Her sister Bella captured the culturally insensitive moment on camera, sharing it with all her millions of friends and followers? Yeah, apparently China hasn’t forgotten either.
— . (@hvrrystime) February 5, 2017
It’s suspected that the viral incident, which went down in February, is the reason why Gigi won’t be welcome in China. Which, in hindsight, shouldn’t come as a surprise: since September, Chinese citizens have been protesting that model-of-the-moment be barred from visiting their country with #GigiGetOutofChina.
Miley Cyrus has reportedly been banned from China for a similar reason. Back in 2009, Cyrus shared a racially insensitive photo on her Instagram feed. After banning the pop star, a Chinese foreign minister remarked, ”Miss Cyrus has made it clear she is no friend of China or anyone of East Asian descent. We have no interest in further polluting our children’s minds with her American ignorance.”
3. Don’t wish the Dalai Lama happy birthday
In fact, don’t do anything with the Dalai Lama. Don’t take a photo with him (Selena Gomez), don’t star in a movie about him (Brad Pitt), and definitely don’t send him congratulatory messages on social media (Maroon 5 was reportedly banned a few years back because a band member tweeted happy birthday to the Dalai Lama.)
As the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama’s very existence is a rejection of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. Those who advocate for a Free Tibet — or who sympathize with Tibetan separatists — are seen as a threat to the Chinese government. It doesn’t matter how cute and wise and peaceful he is: if you want to go to China, don’t hangout with the Dalai Lama. (At least not when there are paparazzi nearby.)
4. Don’t be stupid
This one’s for you Justin Bieber. Earlier this year, the Beijing culture bureau’s website released a statement: “Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer. As far as we are concerned, he has engaged in a series of bad behaviours, both in his social life and during a previous performance in China, which caused discontent among the public.”
So DDWJWD (Don’t Do What Justin Would Do), and you should be just fine.