Never one to shy away from controversy, Madonna made quite the first impression on her Taiwanese fans last night, choosing to close out her first ever concert in Taiwan by singing “Holiday” while draped in the Republic of China flag.
The wardrobe choice likely didn’t come as much of a surprise to die-hard fans closely following the singer’s Rebel Heart tour. At each of her stops, Madonna has closed the night by singing her 1983 hit wrapped up in the host country’s flag, while behind her flags from across the world flash across the screen. After her September concert in Montreal, pictures emerged showing that one of the flags she had chosen for that montage was the Taiwanese one.
According to Apple Daily, the concert itself got off to a shaky start when the DJ opening for Madonna warmed up the crowd by shouting “I love Taiwan! I love China!” filling the arena with an awkward silence.
But things picked up from there with Madonna even showing off her Mandarin, yelling “I love you!” to the adoring crowd. The 140-minute show also set a record at the Taipei Arena by beginning at 10:15pm, a decision that reportedly cost organizers at least NT$3.5 million (US $105,901) in overtime pay.
She will perform again at the Taipei Arena on Saturday.
Meanwhile, her official Facebook page has also managed to spark a bit of controversy by posting a picture of the artist in the middle of a white sky and blue sun, the (backwards) symbol of the KMT. After being crushed in last month’s elections, the party’s popularity currently stands at a historic low. Madonna’s page was quickly overwhelmed by comments from DPP supporters attempting to educate the Queen of Pop on her choice of symbolism.
“OMG this is not Taiwan or Taipei’s symbol ,this is the symbol of the party KMT that kills so many Taiwanese.please correct this ridiculous mistake.show some respect to this island,” reads the top comment with more than 3,500 likes.
This is already the second time this year that the ROC flag has found its way into the world of pop. In January, 16-year-old Taiwanese K-pop singer Chou Tzuyu waved the Taiwanese flag on a Korean reality show, setting off a massive scandal that cost her all her appearances in the mainland. To smooth things over, she quickly taped an apology and posted it online, bowing to her fans and professing that there is only “one China.”
Madonna isn’t the first western celebrity to drape herself in the ROC flag on stage. In April 2014, Katy Perry set off political fireworks by wearing a sunflower dress and Taiwanese flag during a concert in Taipei, showing solidarity with those taking part in the Sunflower Movement.
Her wardrobe choice will likely make it difficult for the singer to ever appear in the mainland. Back in 2008, Icelandic singer Bjork chanted “Tibet, Tibet” at her Shanghai concert, an outburst which “broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people’s feelings” and very likely ruined her chances at ever getting invited back.
Additionally, last year, both Maroon 5 and Bon Jovi had concerts canceled in the mainland (and moved to Taiwan), allegedly resulting from their ties to the Dalai Lama.
Watch Madonna’s encore performance below: