Lady Gaga’s weekend meeting with the Dalai Lama provoked a ban on distribution and streaming of her music 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.
Following the meeting, the singer’s Instagram account was full of berating comments, and a Weibo debate erupted. A 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!” Apparently, the disappointed Chinese fans had chosen “their country over their idol,” as one entertainment commentary put it.
In recent years, various Western stars have avoided links to Dalai Lama. Apparently, some celebrities have indeed canceled planned performances in China over alleged associations with the Dalai Lama.
Selena Gomez canceled her tour gig to Guangzhou and Shanghai scheduled for August 2016. Last September, Bon Jovi Shanghai concerts were reportedly canceled after the band featured Dalai Lama in some previous gigs. Another Dalai Lama Tweet by a member of the Maroon 5 band was believed to be the reason behind the cancellation of their September tour in Shanghai.
The Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India since the failed 1959 Lhasa rebellion. He is considered a ‘dangerous separatist’ by Beijing albeit his role in advocating genuine Tibetian autonomy in China. Beijing plays a vital role in pressurizing foreign leaders from engaging with the Dalai Lama in any diplomatic way. Any leaders who have met with Dalai Lama have faced a ban from attending or performing in China.
Nevertheless, Lady Gaga has taken a bold step and as an outlier doesn’t shy away from making plans for performances in China- a move that may be utterly impossible to emulate by other acts in the industry.
Lady Gaga is popular among young Chinese but has never performed in mainland China. However, she has held concerts in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.