Katy Perry’s Taipei performance has delivered political fireworks after the singer wore a sunflower dress and adorned herself with a Taiwanese flag on stage, which some have interpreted as a sign of solidarity with the Taiwanese independence movement.
Apple Daily has reported on the events, which occurred during Tuesday night’s concert in Taiwan—the singer’s first on the island after completing a tour of mainland China.
While Katy Perry is renowned for her racy outfits, it is still unclear whether this was a politically laced ensemble or simply an innocent wardrobe malfunction. After all, she’d worn the same dress during her Shanghai leg of the Asian tour.
The controversy surrounding her attire lies in its (intentional or not) symbolism of Taiwanese independence. The sunflower dress may be seen as representative of the Sunflower Movement—the 24-day long student-led occupation of the Taiwanese legislature in March 2014 which protested against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement with Beijing.
Commonly dubbed China’s “Fruit Sister”, Katy Perry is already being crowned by some Taiwanese activists as their “Sunflower Goddess”.
While there has been no official word from China on what this spells for her chances of another tour, Chinese netizens have expressed concern that she may not be welcome back into China after the commotion caused by her outfit. The Chinese Ministry of Culture is particularly sensitive when it comes to foreign performers, and had infamously censored counter-culture icon Bob Dylan’s set list during his 2011 tour.
Previously, Icelandic singer Bjork was forced to give up any future aspirations of becoming a diplomat in 2008 when she chanted “Tibet, Tibet” at her Shanghai concert—an outburst which “broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people’s feelings”.
The Katy Perry incident comes just as China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office announced today that China and Taiwan must oppose Taiwanese independence and uphold the disputed 1992 consensus (which recognises only one China containing both the mainland and Taiwan but allows different interpretations of that one China)— a notion which is vehemently opposed by advocates for Taiwanese independence (including the Democratic Progressive Party) who prefer to consider Taiwan and China each as individual sovereign states.
By Liam Bourke