China Not Gaga

Lady Gaga has greatly angered the Communist Party of China by meeting with the Dalai Lama ostensibly to discuss yoga.

Photo: Michael Conroy/AP
During a question and answer session at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis.

The 15-minute meeting took place on June 26 in Indianapolis prior to the 84th Conference of Mayors. According to various media, the two talked about meditation, mental health and “how to detoxify humanity,” according to the Guardian. Lady Gaga streamed the whole thing on her Facebook page, explaining that she wanted to learn from the Buddhist leader how these practices can help alleviate depression and addiction, which “ultimately lead to suicide and suicide attempts.”

The Dalai Lama, of course, is China’s bete noire, as the government claims he advocates for Tibetan independence. He fled Tibet in 1959 when the Communists took over, but has insisted over the years that he merely wants greater autonomy for his homeland. Predictably, the meeting between the spiritual leader and the pop superstar led to “instructions” from the Communist Party to ban all of her recordings on the mainland, according to Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily.

That means Chinese websites and media cannot upload or distribute Lady Gaga’s music. All state-run media must also condemn the meeting in their reports and broadcasts. Many of Gaga’s fans also commented on social media that they were disappointed with her “ignorance” and “stupidity” regarding Chinese political sensitivities.

The AP reported that a government spokesperson said during a press conference, “The purpose of [the Dalai Lama’s] visits and activities in other countries is just to promote his proposal for Tibetan independence. We hope that people from the international community can be fully aware of his true colors and nature.” However, the subsequent transcript of the press conference contained no mention of Lady Gaga herself.

The Guardian also reported that at press time, the singer’s “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance” were still available on several streaming services. So far Lady Gaga, whose music has been restricted in China in the past for reasons of content, has not commented on the ban, but some music insiders believe she knew what would happen if she met with the Dalai Lama. One China watcher tweeted, “Good for her to show some courage, unlike most celebrities who are scared of bullying Beijing now.”