The Chinese government has a long history of using nationalism and the memory of the ‘century of humiliation‘ as a means to foster citizens’ allegiance to the one-Party state. Beijing has often targeted Western political figures and celebrities whose words or actions were deemed offensive or dangerous by the Communist authorities.
For instance, on October 11 British activist Benedict Rogers was barred from entering Hong Kong because of his support for the local pro-democracy movement. Even models and singers like Gigi Hadid and Katy Perry have now experienced the wrath of the Communist authorities.
I’m so bummed I won’t be able to make it to China this year. Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in sp… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) November 16, 2017
Hadid was reportedly denied a visa by the Chinese government because of a post which was deemed offensive and caused an uproar on Chinese social media.
In February Hadid had posted on Instagram a video in which she mimicked the appearance of a Buddha-shaped biscuit by squinting her eyes. Some Chinese netizens slammed Hadid, accusing her of racist behaviour.
Hadid later apologized on Sina Weibo, China’s micro-blogging platform. “It hurts me to hurt anyone, and I want you all to know that it was never my intent to offend anyone through my actions and I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt or felt let down by me. I have the utmost respect and love for the people of China,” she wrote on September 1. Her apology, however, did not prevent her from being put on China’s blacklist.
Katy Perry, too, was denied entry to China. The reason why the Communist authorities did not want her in the country was an incident that occurred back in 2015, when she appeared at a concert in Taiwan wearing a dress made of sunflowers. Sunflowers were the symbol of an anti-China student movement that forced the Taiwanese government to withdraw from a free trade agreement with Beijing. She also waved a Taiwanese flag. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and it pursues a policy of ‘reunification‘ either by peaceful means or by force, if necessary.
On November 17 Katy Perry released a statement which can only be described as an attempt to curry favour with the Chinese authorities. “I promise not to say anything religious or political,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, I promise not to participate in any activities that jeopardize China’s unity and integrity.”
Pop singer Katy Perry promises "not to participate in any activities that jeopardize China's unity and integrity."… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
China Digital Times (@CDT) November 07, 2017
Apart from Hadid and Perry, China has also banned models Irina Sharipova, Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva and Dasha Khlystun.
But why didn’t China accept the celebrities’ apologies? An article published today on Chinese state-sponsored media seems to provide an answer.
“China’s rise is not only an economic matter, it should also be reflected in the international standing of the Chinese people and the way they are treated,” Chinese media wrote. “We respect and welcome every foreign friend who visits China in good faith, but we will reject those unfriendly individuals who look down on China.”
It appears clear that China’s decision to ban the two celebrities is an attempt to display power and status, to stoke popular anger, and to promote a spirit of nationalism. China’s march towards isolationism, the politics of resentment and the strengthening of the one-Party state under Xi Jinping continues.
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