China finds itself upset once again, as yet another world-famous pop star seems to have been taken in by the Dalai Lama — an 80-year-old “splitist” and “wolf in monk’s clothing,” who is always up to no good.
This time, His Holiness’ target was American pop icon Lady Gaga. The two were speakers at the US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis yesterday. Before they went on stage, in a 20-minute session that was streamed live on Facebook, Lady Gaga asked the Dalai Lama about how young people dealing with self-esteem issues can find peace with themselves. The Tibetan leader advised practicing kindness and compassion towards others.
“When you show more of a sense of concern for others’ well-being, then you also get the feeling, ‘I’m useful to others,’” the Dalai Lama said. “That brings self-confidence and meaning to life.”
However, China believes that there was more to his remarks than just some self-help advice. “The purpose of his visits and activities in other countries is just to promote his proposal for Tibetan independence,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press conference on Monday.
“We hope that people from the international community can be fully aware of his true colors and nature.”
According to the BBC, some of Lady Gaga’s Chinese fans are also upset by her meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader, writing that “she has not considered Chinese fans” and that “she has given up on the Chinese market.” Free Weibo reports that posts about the event in Indianapolis have been censored on Chinese social media.
Perhaps fans were mostly distressed because this would seem to end any (admittedly slim) chances of Lady Gaga ever performing in the mainland. In April, Selena Gomez quietly canceled her August 2016 tour dates in Guangzhou and Shanghai, with rumors circulating around that she had been forced to do so after old photos of her posing for pictures with the Dalai Lama began swirling around online, causing her to be banned from performing in the mainland.
Last year, a Maroon 5 concert in Shanghai was canceled, possibly because one member went to His Holiness’s b-day party. Later that year, Bon Jovi’s much-anticipated China-tour was scrapped, again among much intrigue. Diehard Taiwanese fans said that they sent Chinese authorities pics of the band performing five years ago in front of a backdrop of the Tibetan spiritual leader, so that the Shanghai and Beijing concerts would be canceled and Bon Jovi would be forced to perform another night in Taipei. It worked, sorta.
Fellow American band Linkin Park was banned from China for six years after members were photographed getting chummy with the Dalai Lama at a conference in Los Angeles. And Bjork famously ended her song “Declare Independence” by shouting “Tibet! Tibet!” at a 2008 show in Shanghai, earning her the boot for good.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama also hurt the feelings of the Chinese people by meeting with his best bud, the Dalai Lama, inside the White House.
In Chinese media, the Dalai Lama is often condemned as the leader of Tibetan separatism in creative fashion. Last year, officials attempted to paint a picture of him as a stooge for ISIS after the exiled leader called for an open dialogue with the terrorist organization. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was also compared by Party mouthpiece the Global Times to Saddam Hussein, reasoning that worship of his image by Tibetans in Sichuan is akin to preaching the gospel about the former Iraqi dictator in the US.
For his part, the Dalai Lama maintains that he wants genuine autonomy for Tibet, not outright independence. He also says that when he dies, he probably won’t come back, further pissing China off.
And for her part, Lady Gaga is no stranger to being banned in China. Her music was banned for vulgarity in 2011 and that ban continued until ARTPOP was okayed for sale in the mainland in 2014 — albeit with minor alterations to song titles and album artwork. “Sexxs Dreams” became “X Dreams” and her bare legs were given digital stockings.
Watch Lady Gaga and the Dalai Lama speak together at the US Conference of Mayors below: