Katy Perry, the 33-year-old pop star lovingly nicknamed “Fruit Sister” by her Chinese fans, was reportedly barred from entering China ahead of the Shanghai Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which she was scheduled to perform at on November 29.
Citing unnamed sources, Page Six — the gossip section of the New York Post — reported yesterday that Perry was “banned from China indefinitely.”
While she initially was informed that she’d be able to gain access, the decision apparently was reversed after the government caught wind of a controversial incident from 2015, in which Perry wore a bright, glittery dress with sunflowers on it during a performance in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
There has been no official word from China. The singer herself has never spoken on the record about her stance on the issue of Taiwanese independence, though many have interpreted her gesture during that April 28, 2015 concert, when she donned a Taiwanese flag, as political:
While the sunflower gown is a normal part of Perry’s set — she also wore it in Guangzhou and Shanghai performances on April 18 and 21 of that year — a 2014 anti-Beijing protest movement in Taiwan happens to be called the Sunflower Student Movement.
In October of this year, ahead of her scheduled Shanghai trip, Perry signed a letter promising “not to say or do anything religious or political” and “not to participate in any activities that jeopardize China’s unity and integrity.”
In the comment section of a Sina story about Perry’s visa rejection (in which Sina cited “foreign media”), reactions were mixed. “Katy Perry will always be my queen,” one user wrote. “Not much to say, X-independence can’t be tolerated,” another said. Others blamed the event organizers: “The organizers have been spreading fake lists of models and music guests. After they built up anticipation of the show, they said ‘Oh sorry this one can’t come, that one can’t come.’ The brand should change its name from Victoria’s Secret to visa’s secret.”
Meanwhile, rumors circulated that Taylor Swift will be part of the lineup and that her visa application was approved after only two days. Naturally, this played into the ongoing Taylor Swift-Katy Perry feud. Swifties and KatyCats, as the artists’ respective fans are called, rushed to Weibo to defend their sheroes and attack the other.
Fans of Taylor Swift initiated a hashtag campaign #水果姐台独# (Shuǐguǒjiě Táidú #FruitSisterProTaiwanIndependence#). The above poster wrote, “Karma is real” — which also doubles as a reference to Swift’s obsession with this Buddhist concept (“But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma,” she sings in the song “Look What You Made Me Do”).
Meanwhile, KatyCats were quick to fight back in Perry’s defense.
“Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift’s bff, has met with the Dalai Lama and advocates for him,” wrote one KatyCat.
A handful of top models also won’t appear at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, due to various reasons. Gigi Hadid, who was denounced by Chinese internet users in June for an offensive gesture, said on Twitter that she was “bummed”:
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
The list of foreign celebrities banned from China has been growing. Justin Bieber is not allowed to perform in China due “bad behavior.” Other artists, such as Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, and Selena Gomez, have also gotten in trouble for expressing admiration for the Dalai Lama.