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© Philip Jägenstedt / Flickr
© Philip Jägenstedt / Flickr

The Reasons Why These 10 Celebrities Have Been Banned From China

Picture of Matthew Keegan
Updated: 4 December 2017

Celebrity status might get you freebies and the red-carpet treatment in a lot of places, but not in China. In fact, given the countless number of celebrities banned from entering China over the years, it’s probably easier to visit the country if you’re not famous. Here’s a handful of celebrities of whom Chinese authorities are clearly not fans.

Gigi Hadid

American model Gigi Hadid was reportedly denied a visa to appear at the recent Victoria Secrets Fashion Show in Shanghai. “I’m so bummed I won’t be able to make it to China this year,” she announced on her Twitter account.

Reports speculated that her visa application was denied due to a previous video that she posted on Snapchat appearing to mock Asian facial traits while holding a Buddha-shaped cookie to her face. The video prompted a backlash with fans and netizens accusing Hadid of being racist and ignorant.

Hadid later posted an apology video on the Chinese social media website Weibo, but it seems that it wasn’t enough to stop the backlash or prevent her from being blacklisted.

Katy Perry

American singer Katy Perry has reportedly been banned “indefinitely” from entering China. This meant that she couldn’t appear either at the recent Victoria Secrets Fashion Show in Shanghai. The ban was put in place after the singer wore the Taiwanese flag during a concert at the country’s Taipei Arena in 2015.

China refuses to see Taiwan as a separate country and frowns upon people who support Taiwan’s independence – especially foreign singers who drape themselves in the Taiwanese flag, it would seem. To add further insult to injury, Perry also wore a glittery dress covered with sunflowers during her Taipei concert, which happened to be the emblem of Taiwan’s anti-China protests the year before.

Justin Bieber

Chinese authorities are clearly not Beliebers. The Canadian singer was banned from entering the country in 2017 for previous bad behaviour. Beijing’s culture bureau explained that several misdemeanours and run-ins with the law had made the singer unsuitable for Chinese ears.

“Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer,” said the bureau. “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.”

Lady Gaga

China is not a fan of the Dalai Lama or anyone with whom he associates, including American pop singer Lady Gaga. The singer met the spiritual leader before he appeared at a conference in the American city of Indianapolis to discuss yoga. China was not amused and ordered an immediate block of the singer’s entire repertoire from the country.

Chinese authorities decry the Dalai Lama and consider him a separatist who they claim is conspiring to split Tibet from China in order to establish theocratic rule there. Anyone who is seen to publicly support the Dalai Lama or is pro-Tibet independence is blacklisted by the Chinese government.

Brad Pitt

The American actor was banned from China for over 15 years for starring in the film Seven Years in Tibet. The movie depicts China’s controversial takeover of Tibet and the harsh Chinese rule in the country. The Chinese government also decried the film’s positive portrayal of the 14th Dalai Lama. The film’s director Jean-Jacques Annaud and its main star Brad Pitt were both banned from ever entering China.

However, the ban on Pitt appeared lifted in 2014 when he accompanied his partner, actress Angelina Jolie, to China to promote her film Maleficent.

Miley Cyrus

No stranger to controversy, American pop singer Miley Cyrus was banned from China in 2009 after she posted a photo to social media showing herself with a group of friends slanting their eyes as if to mock people of Asian descent.

In a statement, Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi said, “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.”

Selena Gomez

The singer and actress was reportedly banned from performing in China due to her association with the Dalai Lama.

The American singer was scheduled to play two concerts in China as part of her 2016 Revival tour. However, the China dates were later removed from her website. The shows were believed to of been cancelled because Chinese authorities blocked Selena from performing in the country because of her connection to the spiritual leader.

Selena with The Dalai Lama💓 @selenagomez #selena#gomez#selenagomez#thedalailama#bless

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@bestieselenators) on

Bon Jovi

The “Living on a Prayer” hitmakers were forced to cancel their concerts in China during their September 2015 world tour because they reportedly used a picture of the Dalai Lama during a concert in Taiwan back in 2010.

“For every artist who wants to perform in China, officials comb through their social-media and press reports to see if they have done anything deemed to be offensive to the country,” an insider told The Independent.

Maroon 5

Maroon 5’s concerts in Shanghai and Beijing were also reportedly cancelled in 2015 after band member Jesse Carmichael sent the Dalai Lama a birthday tweet.

Sharon Stone

The American actress caused public outcry in 2008 when she told a television reporter at the Cannes Film Festival that a 2008 earthquake in China may have resulted from karma over China’s occupation of Tibet. The star later apologised over her insensitive comments, but Chinese authorities still blacklisted her and ordered distributors to ban her films from theatres in China and Hong Kong.