20 Celebrities that Were Banned from China

Brad Pitt

Famous people often say and do crazy things. Sometimes this behavior is laughed off, but other times, it gets them banned from entering certain countries. China is one of the nations that carefully determine which celebrities make their way into the country or the Chinese mainstream media. The following are 20 celebrities that were banned from China.

1. Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt is an American actor and producer who has become a household name in many countries except China. The Hollywood heartthrob is famous for his award-winning films and cinemas that are true to his heart. He has a substantial fan base all across the globe, thanks to his acting prowess and unmatched brilliance. Pitt faced an over 20 years ban after releasing his film dubbed ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ based on a book with the same name. Government officials felt that the film portrayed Chinese military officers in a bad light. It also claimed that the movie illustrated a negative image of the Chinese’s treatment of the Tibetan people. China and Tibet have had terse relationships, and this film seemed to voice pro-Tibetan feelings, causing the Chinese officials to ban some renowned actors like Brad Pitt from entering their country.

2. Katy Perry

Katy Perry is an American singer and songwriter who has won many awards and is one of the top-earning women in the music industry. She is the first female artist to have five number-one Billboard Hot 100 songs from one album (Teenage Dream). The Chinese media has often focused on her controversial dresses and her fruit-themed costumes. Katy Perry is known for donning bursts out of bananas and bringing out giant fruits on stage. As a result, most people in China refer to her as ‘Shui Guo Jie (Fruit sister). According to Herpes Bazaar (http://www.nme.com/news/music/katy-perry-banned-indefinitely-china-2160552), Perry got her banned from China indefinitely from China after an incident where she wore the Taiwanese flag and a sunflower dress during her concert in Taipei, Taiwan Arena. The sunflower is viewed as a pro-Taiwanese statement, expressing solidarity with the Sunflower Student Movement in 2014.

3. Selena Gomez

Meeting the Dalai Lama might have been an extraordinary experience for Selena Gomez, but it got her banned from China. The former Disney star met the Dalai Lama during her rehearsals for the We Day Vancouver event in 2014. Being the idol she is, Gomez shared the picture on her social media pages, highlighting the memorable moment, but that worked against her Chinese relations. By then, the Chinese outrage was slowly developing, and Selena was not aware that the government had taken this picture offensively until two years later when she was organizing tour dates in China.

4. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus is an American songwriter, singer, television personality, and actress famous for her unique raspy voice and is no stranger to controversy. At some point, she was linked to several scandals in America. The Disney star was featured in the news headlines for turning into a controversial pop-culture icon with controversial dancing antics and embracing the drug culture. However, the Chinese officials did not take offense to all these. Miley’s ban from China was caused by posting a photo that was considered racist or insensitive. In 2009, Cyrus took a picture while imitating Asians by slanting her eyes, not realizing it was offensive.

5. Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber is a Canadian mega pop star who was banned from performing in China in 2017. The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture claimed that Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also controversial. In a statement issued in response to a question on the bureau’s website, the ministry argued that it was inappropriate to bring in badly behaved entertainers. Justin could not be allowed into the country because the officials needed to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the performance environment in the country. In their statement, they hoped that Justin Bieber would continue to improve his actions and words and transform into the artist who is truly loved by the nation as he matures.

6. Anastasia Lin

Anastasia Lin is a beauty queen who starred in The Bleeding Edge, a 2016 Canadian-Chinese film highlighting human rights violations in China. According to Looper, it was not the first time Lin had involved herself in Chinese human rights issues. She has been an open critic of China, and her role in this movie was part of her activism. China seemed to have had enough and prohibited Anastasia from joining the 65th annual Miss World pageant held in the country. She tried to use an on-demand visa to get into the event, but, unfortunately, the Chinese officials did not bend.

7. Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford is one of the famous actors well-known for his role in “Star Wars.” Although he does not play roles that may portray him as a bad character, Ford is one of the celebrities banned from China. He was blacklisted in the early 1990s due to his outspoken advocacy for a free Tibet and open criticism of the Chinese Government for violating human rights. Harrison also testified before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee in 1995, involving the need for Tibetan independence. He provided detailed information about China’s human rights abuse in the region and is still an active advocate for Tibet.

8. JAY-Z

In October 2006, JAY-Z was set to perform in Shangai, China, but his concert was annulled due to concerns about the inappropriate choice of words in his music. The Chinese Culture Ministry claimed that JAY-Z uses too much vulgar language in some of his songs. Many fans expressed their disappointment as they would have expected the ministry to censor some of his albums but not ban the artist from performing. Now you know that explicit lyrics can also get you banned from certain countries.

9. Sharon Stone

Sharon is a well-known celebrity in the film industry and one of the people banned from entering China. In 2008, Stone made a few comments on the deadly Sichuan Earthquake while talking to the press on her way to the Cannes Film festival. Her remarks were not aimed at helping the disaster but instead shared her belief that the calamity was the result of bad karma experienced by the Chinese for oppressing the Dalai Lama. This earthquake was not a minor thing but a catastrophe that resulted in the death of close to 90,000. The Chinese considered Sharon’s comments as shockingly-insensitive, causing all her movies to be blacklisted in China.

10. Richard Gere

Richard issued an impromptu speech regarding the human rights abuses that China had inflicted on Tibet during the 1993 Academy Awards. Many people viewed this as a bold move, especially because he was presenting the award for best art direction and not giving an acceptance speech. Gere took this opportunity to spread the word about Tibet and should probably be regarded as a humanitarian hero. However, his action turned out into a scandal, with the Academy Awards producers vowing to ban him from future shows. Richard continues to fight for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, his long-time friend. These actions caused the Chinese government officials to dislike him, banning him from the country.

11. Martin Scorsese

Martin is a film director and one of the celebrities banned from China. In 1997, he released a film named ‘Kundun,’ which followed the life and beliefs of the 14th Dalai Lama and Tenzin Gyatso. China’s integration of Tibet caused the government to strictly prohibit all subjects and movies involving Tibet’s independence. Chinese officials threatened to ban Disney from their market if “Kundun” was released, but the company held onto its stand. As a result, Martin Scorsese received a lifelong ban from the country, and Disney was banned from China’s box office market. It looks like China does not joke around the Tibetian Independence issue.

12. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the famous people banned from China. In 2016, she met with the Dalai Lama to discuss several issues, including compassion and yoga. Because the Dalai Lama is regarded as an enemy of the Chinese officials, Gaga’s meeting with him was condemned, and her music was prohibited from the country. In addition, Lady Gaga was prohibited from appearing on Chinese radio and television. This was the second time her music was outlawed in the country. She had some of her work blacklisted in 2011 for being too vulgar.

13. Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is a popular singer who plays approximately 100 concerts every year on his ‘Never Ending Tour.’ In 2010, his planned tour to East Asia was called off after China’s Ministry of Culture denied him permission to play in Shangai and Beijing. The ministry is responsible for vetting planned concerts by overseas artists, and in this particular case, they expressed their concerns about Bob’s past involvement in the counterculture movement in the 1960s. Bob Dylan’s ban resulted from his reputation.

14. Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi is a member of the American rock band known as the Bon Jovi band. Jon and his band were prohibited from China because of using an image of the Dalai Lama as a backdrop during their performance in Taiwan. The incident also led to the cancellation of the band’s planned concert in Shangai.

15. Bjork

Bjork is an Icelandic singer, record producer, songwriter, and actress. The singer’s ban from China came after her performance in Shangai, China, where she began chanting “Tibet, Tibet.” This did not go well with some people in the crowd. The Chinese officials banned Bjork from China for promoting Tibetial Independence during her concert.

16. Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid is an American fashion model and television personality. In 2017, she had planned to attend the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show but was denied a visa to the country as a result of her Weibo video, where she was squinting her eyes while holding up a Buddha-shaped cookie. According to the Insider, the Chinese officials regarded Gigi’s video as an offensive gesture.

17. Maroon 5

Maroon 5 is a famous band from Los Angeles, and some of the celebrities were banned from China in 2015. The ban resulted from one of their tweets wishing the Dalai Lama a happy birthday. They were scheduled to perform in Shangai and Beijing in September 2015 as a part of their Asian tour, but their show was canceled in July of the same year.

18. Julia Belyakova

Julia Belyakova is a Russian fashion model based in New York. She is one of the models who were denied entry to China while planning to attend the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shangai. According to The Sun, It is unclear why Julia and other models like Irina Sharipova, and Dasha Khlystun were denied visas to travel to the country.

19. Namewee

Namewee is a controversial Malaysian rapper and one of the celebs prohibited from China. He was accused of insulting China and the Chinese people in his “Fragile” hit ballad, featuring Kimberley Chen, an Australian singer. The satirical song was released in 2021 and intended to ridicule Beijing’s sensitivity to criticism, causing the two artists to be banned from the country.

20. Li Zhi

Li Zhi is a Chinese artist popular for his folk-rock music which was banned from the Republic of China in 2019. He might not be so famous in the mainstream, but he had a substantial fan base. According to Radii China, Zhi’s Weibo account had over one million followers, but in April 2019, all his online profiles were deleted, and songs were taken down from the Chinese music streaming platforms. Li Zhi’s ban resulted from what was termed as “misbehavior.” The People’s Republic of China has loosened a few restrictions in the last few years, but it is still one of the countries with stern legislation regulating film, music, and other related industries. Our 20 celebrities banned from China includes individuals whose ban still stands and others who were once denied entry into the country. Several of them were prohibited from speaking against the Chinese Government, while other celebrities were blacklisted for disrespect.

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