China 'bans Lady Gaga' after Dalai Lama meeting
Communist party’s propaganda department reportedly issues ‘important instruction’ blocking singer’s entire repertoire from mainland
Lady Gaga has reportedly been added to a list of hostile foreign forces banned by China’s Communist party after she met with the Dalai Lama to discuss yoga.
The American pop singer, who has sold more than 27m albums, met the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader on Sunday before a conference in Indianapolis.
A video of the 19-minute encounter – in which the pair pondered issues such as meditation, mental health and how to detoxify humanity – was posted on the singer’s Facebook account.
The meeting sparked an angry reaction from Beijing, which has attacked the spiritual leader as a “wolf in monk’s robes”.
The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in March 1959, insists he is merely seeking greater autonomy from Chinese rule for Tibetans.
But China’s rulers consider him a separatist who they claim is conspiring to split the Himalayan region from China in order to establish theocratic rule there.
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.
Asked by a foreign reporter whether the tête-à-tête would create a “bad romance” between Beijing and Lady Gaga, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry initially hinted that he was not familiar with the pop star’s Grammy-winning back catalogue. “Who?” Hong Lei said when asked for Beijing’s view on the singer’s meeting.
China Foreign Ministry spokesman: who?
— Benjamin Haas (@haasbenjamin) June 27, 2016
Hong went on to condemn the Dalai Lama’s global campaigning.
“The purpose of his visits and activities in other countries is just to promote his proposal for Tibetan independence,” the spokesperson said, according to AP. “We hope that people from the international community can be fully aware of his true colours and nature.”
All mention of the Lady Gaga controversy appeared to have been purged from the official transcript of that press conference.
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.
China has previously banned artists and groups such as Maroon 5, Bjork and Oasis from performing in the country after they met with the Dalai Lama or spoke out in favour of him or Tibetan independence.
Experts suggested the American singer would have gone into her meeting with the spiritual leader with her eyes wide open as to the consequences.
“Lady Gaga knew how Beijing would react,” Bill Bishop, who runs the Sinocism newsletter, wrote on Twitter. “Good for her to show some courage, unlike most celebrities who are scared of bullying Beijing now.”
Thank you for this special day. Science tells us kindness improves health, let's take care of the body of our nation pic.twitter.com/jsvlTy5pTH
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) June 26, 2016
Lady Gaga, whose career has survived previous bans in China, has yet to respond to China’s reported ban of her work.
During her meeting with the Dalai Lama she said: “We have to cool the system down. It’s about less heat, more cooling, more relaxation but also [being] thoughtful and strategic.”