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Chinese Netizens on Lady Gaga: “You Can’t Blame the Ignorant”

The recent meeting between popular singer Lady Gaga and the Dalai Lama led to much international media coverage on the negative reactions from Chinese fans. Although some netizens express their anger with Gaga, there are many who say Chinese people can’t blame her “ignorance”.



The recent meeting between popular singer Lady Gaga and the Dalai Lama led to much international media coverage on the negative reactions from Chinese fans. Although some netizens express their anger with Gaga, there are many who say Chinese people can’t blame her “ignorance”.

Although most news about the Dalai Lama is usually censored on Chinese (social) media, the recent meeting between the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama (达赖喇嘛) and American pop star Lady Gaga (嘎嘎小姐/女神卡卡) has become a much-talked about topic on Sina Weibo.

According to the official website of the Dalai Lama, his meeting with Lady Gaga took place during a US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 26. Lady Gaga reportedly interviewed the Dalai Lama for her Facebook live broadcast.

After meeting with the Dalai Lama, Lady Gaga posted on social media: “Thank you for this special day. Science tells us kindness improves health, let’s take care of the body of our nation.”


The Dalai Lama is a sensitive issue on China’s social media. After the spiritual leader fled Tibet into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, Beijing regards him as a separatist. Last year, a senior Communist Party official warned Tibetan cadres to “remain vigilant” of “separatist motives” of the Dalai Lama, SCMP reported.

Creative ways to refer to the Dalai Lama used by Chinese netizens to circumvent censorship include those that only use part of his name or who simply name him ‘DA’,’DL’, or ‘DA Lai Lama’ (Da赖喇嘛).

Although some English media sources claimed any mention of ‘Lady Gaga’ was now blocked from social media in China, the popular singer was still a topic of discussion on China’s Sina Weibo throughout June 28 and 29 – with some messages disappearing not long after they were posted.

Many netizens say that “Lady Gaga has officially left the Chinese market,” waving her goodbye with laughing emoticons: “She is no longer our idol – if she wants to know why, we can explain.”


“If you do stupid things, you’ll have to pay the price,” media site Purple Web writes on its Weibo account.

Many international media reported that Lady Gaga has been officially “banned” from China, based on reports by The Guardian and Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily. Chinese state media did not report an official ban of Lady Gaga.

One Weibo netizen named Tomie wrote about the meeting:

“Before when I traveled to the United States, I visited an elementary school and saw a poster of the Dalai Lama there, together with those of other great persons such as Gandhi, Marie Curie, and even Confucius. They were up there together, and above it said “Love and Peace”. In front of the Philadelphia Independence Hall, there are many photos of celebrities who took a photo there, including the Dalai Lama.

I was flabbergastered to see this, and then slowly started to understand that the Dalai Lama is a celebrity in the eyes of foreigners; he is the embodiment of love and peace to them. He’s also the chicken soup leader (鸡汤教主) on Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, the vast majority of foreigners have a very muddled understanding of China’s modern history besides what they know of Chairman Mao, the Taiwan issue, or the Tibetan and East Turkistan separatist problems. They do not understand the significance of this history to us, just as we don’t understand what their history means to them. Also, this is linked to the fact that the majority of foreigners have freedom of speech and do not accept any control over what they say or do.

So when celebrities shake hands with the Dalai Lama and pose for a picture with them, they will be framed in the same “love and peace” cadre as him. And our voices opposing this will only make him look more like an “innocent” old man that is verbally attacked by us in their eyes – they will even defend him.

We often say that you can’t blame people for being ignorant, and this is the case here.

I studied in Australia before, but I always loved my country. I refused to make friends with Taiwanese students in favor of Taiwanese independence. On Facebook, I condemn Taiwanese Independence, and I’ve also condemned the British Virgin Atlantic Airways event [link]. I think it is worth it, and it is what I should do. But in this case, I think I have the right to say no: I will not keep changing my favorite singers all my life when they meet with the Dalai Lama just because they don’t know any better.

I am writing this just because I wanted to tell you – do not go along with the same vision of hatred and hostility to the people. After all, all great developments start with tolerance.”

Many other netizens share the view of this Weibo blogger, saying: “She can meet whoever she wants – it is her freedom.”

One other Weibo user writes: “China has always shut her out anyway, so she actually has no obligations to take the feelings of her Chinese fans into account…” Lady Gaga songs were previously censored in China for being “vulgar”.

The same Weibo user named Tomie also confirms this: “Lady Gaga has stopped caring about China for a long time, because her concerts here were repeatedly refused, her songs are illegally downloaded, her interviews are prohibited to be broadcasted. She can do whatever she wants – it’s not our business what she does.”

Others also say that Lady Gaga cannot be blamed for being “ignorant”: “I am Chinese and to this day I still unsure what the deal is with the Dalai Lama, all I vaguely know about is from some junior high school textbook – so how can you expect foreigners to understand these political disputes? If you’re all so clever, then tell me, isn’t the Dalai Lama a Buddhist fellow? And for the rest..?”

Another Weibo user also said: “In fact, foreign media are mostly positive about the Dalai Lama, with many distinguished celebrities wanting to befriend him.” “If we would shut out Lady Gaga because of this,” another person adds: “then wouldn’t the people we shut out become a bit much?” Throughout the years, the Dalai Lama has met with many politicians and celebrities, from Bono and President Obama to British Prime minister Cameron, from Russel Brand and the Clintons to Chancellor Merkel.

“We need to divide politics from idols,” one netizen argues: “For example, I really like Japanese style, but I oppose their political stance.”

Other netizens just do not see what all the fuss is about. “If I had the opportunity, I’d also wanna meet him!”, one Weibo user says: “What’s the problem?!”

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Memes & Viral

Dutch Vlogger Discovers Her Boyfriend’s Photo on a Chinese TV Drama

Dutch vlogger Rianne Meijer was surprised to discover her boyfriend being somebody else’s lover in this Chinese television drama.



The Dutch influencer Rianne Meijer has gone viral in the Netherlands and on Chinese social media after she posted a TikTok video in which she shared the discovery of her boyfriend’s photo in a Chinese TV drama.

“Remember this picture? This is a picture that I posted with my boyfriend a while ago,” Rianne says in the TikTok video, then showing a scene in Chinese TV drama in which a photoshopped photo of Rianne’s boyfriend is featured.

Although Rianne stood next to her boyfriend in the original photo, her face was replaced in the photoshopped edition featured on the Chinese TV drama.

“They look good together, it’s fine!” Rianne jokingly responded to the scene.

Rianne Meijer is an online influencer and YouTuber with some 1.5 million fans on her Instagram. She is known for often posting funny videos and photos, sometimes together with her boyfriend Roy.

The scene featuring Roy’s photo comes from the Chinese TV drama Summer Again (薄荷之夏), which premiered on iQiyi in the summer of 2021.

The scene shows a lady named Mi Ya (played by actress Li Borong 李柏蓉) talking about her relationship with a man named ‘Andre.’

On the Chinese social media site Weibo, many netizens found the incident “embarrassing” and did not understand why the staff would just steal someone’s portrait: “Couldn’t the production team even find a foreign guy to take a picture?”

Others also thought the incident was very funny: “This is the reality of our global village. You’d think nobody would find out, but it’s really not so secret.”

According to Rianne’s most recent Tiktok post update, the show’s production staff has since sent her an apology. She also writes it’s “all good,” adding: “They are so sweet and this gave us a good laugh.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Arts & Entertainment

Chinese Musician Song Dongye Canceled (Again) after Complaining about China’s Cancel Culture

Song Dongye was shut down by Weibo after airing his grievances at being shut out from China’s entertainment circles.



Five years after being caught with drugs, Chinese singer Song Dongye went on Weibo to share his grievances on still being ‘canceled’ and asking for another chance to restart his career. Instead, he got criticized and blocked.

Chinese folk singer Song Dongye (宋冬野) has become a major topic on Chinese social media site Weibo this week after he posted a lengthy statement on his account airing his grievances regarding how he was shut out from China’s entertainment world after being caught with drugs.

In Song’s Weibo post of October 11 titled “I Need to Say Something” (“我需要说一些话”), the singer complained that one of his performances was canceled and that he has not been able to perform since he was detained for drug use five years ago.

The Beijing singer was scheduled to hold a concert in Chengdu on October 16th, but local authorities eventually canceled the show after receiving reports about Song being a drug addict.

According to Song, it is not the first time that one of his concerts is suddenly canceled for no apparent reason. In his post, the Beijing artist shared how disappointed he is that yet another performance was called off, even though it was previously approved and was organized in compliance with all strict regulations.

It seems that Song Dongye just cannot get rid of his tainted reputation.

Song Dongye

The 34-year-old Song Dongye started his career as a musician in 2009 and signed with the Modern Sky record label in 2012. One of his biggest hits is the 2013 song ‘Miss Dong’ (董小姐) (link), after which Song’s career further flourished.

Things went sour in 2016, when Song was arrested for smoking marijuana in Beijing after someone allegedly tipped off the police. Not long after news on his arrest made the rounds, Song himself posted a statement on his Weibo account on October 25th of 2016, apologizing to everyone for violating the law and promising to better himself.

Song is not the first Chinese celebrity to have been caught with drugs. There is an entire list of celebrities who were caught doing drugs, especially in the 2014-2016 years – including names such as Jaycee Chan, Kai Ko, and Zhang Mo.

In Song’s most recent Weibo post, the solo artist explains how his former drug abuse deeply affected him and his family, and that he has never touched drugs again since his ten-day prison sentence five years ago in 2016.

Song Donye’s lengthy Weibo post of October 11, in which he shared his grievances regarding still being ‘canceled’ five years after being arrested for drug use.

Despite the fact that Song complied with court orders and became an anti-drug advocate, he apparently is still not able to perform – even though the prescribed three-year ban on performing (in accordance with regulations provided by the Ministry of Culture) has officially ended two years ago.

The musician writes that he feels wronged. As a former drug abuser, he feels it was right for him to be punished, but he also says that drug users are actually the victims, claiming that drug trafficking is the real crime. Song argues that it is very difficult to be in the entertainment industry and that it is not easy to say no to drugs when you are down, depressed, and pressured.

In his Weibo post, the artist actually suggests he has been victimized in two ways: firstly, as a depressed artist lured into taking drugs, and second, as a canceled celebrity who keeps on being shut out from China’s entertainment circles.

“I can’t understand it, I’m confused,” Song writes: “I’ve violated the law, but I’ve been punished! I’ve been detained and then I also received five years of verbal abuse! I’ve been educated! I understand! I never messed up again! I got up again, and I changed! I became a better person! Is that still not enough for me to be able to make a living? Why? I’m not doing anything but playing some small offline gigs in order to get by! I’m just a singer-songwriter! What else do you want me to do? (..) Shouldn’t society give people who have broken the law another chance?”

Song concludes his post by saying that, regardless of the challenges he is facing, he will not give up on his work.

Song’s Post Backfires

Soon after Song Dongye posted his short essay on Weibo, thousands of reactions started flooding in. Many netizens did not feel sorry for the artist, but instead blamed him for “playing the victim.”

The issue triggered a major discussion on Chinese social media on whether or not artists with a bad reputation should be allowed back into the limelight.

A recent article by What’s on Weibo on 25 ‘tainted celebrities’ in China (25 ‘Tainted Celebrities’: What Happens When Chinese Entertainers Get Canceled?) shows that Chinese entertainers who previously got ‘canceled’ generally do not return to the big stage, either because they have simply fallen out of favor with most people or because they are being shunned and sidelined in the entertainment industry (or a combination of both).

Many people felt that Song Dongye was being a hypocrite, not just because they felt he was excusing his former drug use by saying drug traffickers are the real offenders, but also because Song allegedly did do multiple commercial shows over the past five years and has been actively setting up new businesses since his 2016 arrest.

For official media accounts, in the meantime, this apparently seemed to be a good moment to highlight their anti-drug informational posts.

State newspaper People’s Daily posted a series of photographs on October 12th featuring police officers who got injured while doing their work combating drug trafficking and drug use, stating that over thirty staff members of the law enforcement against drugs were killed since 2017.

The post’s message was clear: these Chinese officers in drug law enforcement were unable to get a second chance in life – why would Song, as a drug abuser, be allowed to get another chance to restart his career as a performer?

That idea resonated with many, who wrote: “We should have a zero-tolerance policy [towards drugs]. We can’t ever revive these police officers!”

Another image circulated on social media with the tagline “taking drugs and selling drugs is the same crime,” showing a musician offering money for drugs and a law enforcement officer being shot on the job (image below).

On that same day, Song’s Weibo account was temporarily suspended. The hashtag “Song Dongye’s Weibo Suspended” (#宋冬野微博被禁言#) received over 620 million views in the days following the ban.

Many people on Weibo share the view that those who chose to take illegal drugs for their own pleasure can never be a public figure again, earning money from commercial appearances.

Others wrote that Song should have never posted his essay at all since it only caused him to be labeled as a ‘tainted celebrity’ again, even though many people had already forgotten about his former drug use. They think that Song’s real problem hindering his future career now is not his 2016 offense, but his 2021 Weibo post.

Song Dongye’s post did not just affect him, it indirectly also affected other Chinese ‘tainted celebrities.’

A planned concert by Chinese singer Li Daimo (李代沫), a previous contestant of The Voice of China (中国好声音), was also canceled this week following the Song Dongye controversy.

Li Daimo continued his music career after his 2014 drug offense.

Li Daimo was arrested in 2014 for possession of drugs and was later sentenced to a fine and nine months in prison. After being released from prison, Li resumed his music career. Although his tainted past was still sometimes discussed on social media, he was one of the few artists who seemed to have made some sort of a comeback to the entertainment industry after such a major controversy.

The Song Dongye situation, however, also made people (and authorities) reflect on Li’s current career.

Over the past year, Chinese celebrities have become a target of authorities and state media have consistently been reporting on the importance of Chinese stars setting a good example for their fans.

But amid all controversy, there are also people who come to Song’s defense: “If an artist has been punished for three years, we should give people the opportunity to reappear. It might [even] be more beneficial to the anti-drug campaign.”

“I really like his songs,” one person wrote about Song: “But he did drugs, and I can’t forgive him for that.”

At this time, it is not clear when or if Song Dongye will be allowed to post on his Weibo account again. Although his Weibo page is still there, it currently says: “This account has temporarily been suspended for violating Weibo guidelines.” It is not clarified which specific guidelines Song violated with his post.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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