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Top 10 Celebrities Banned from China

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp

Script written by Nathan Sharp

Considering it’s the most populated country in the world… that’s gotta hurt business. From Katy Perry to Miley Cyrus and JAY-Z, celebs have been forbidden from entering China for a variety of reasons. WatchMojo is counting down the top 10 celebrities who are banned from entering China.

Special thanks to our user EmJay for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/The%20Top%20Ten%20Celebrities%20Banned%20From%20China


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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Celebrities Banned from China

Considering it’s the most populated country in the world… that’s gotta hurt business. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten celebrities banned from China.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various celebrities who currently are or have once been reportedly banned from China. This encompasses famous figures who have physically been banned from entering the country as well as those whose bodies of work have been banned or censored.

#10: Katy Perry

In 2017, Katy Perry was all set to headline the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai, but Chinese officials found some “dirt” on the popular singer before she flew into the country. In one instance, Perry had reportedly held and draped a Taiwanese flag over her body at a concert. As China does not support Taiwanese independence, this was a big no-no for Chinese officials. She had also worn a sunflower gown, which could be interpreted as a symbol for the Sunflower Student Movement – which protested a treaty between China and Taiwan. Also a big no-no. Perry’s visa was subsequently denied, and she was “indefinitely” banned from the country.

#9: Martin Scorsese

In 1997, Martin Scorsese released a movie called “Kundun,” which followed the life and beliefs of Tenzin Gyatso, the world-famous Dalai Lama. Due to China’s integration of Tibet, subjects and movies regarding Tibetan independence are strictly forbidden in the country. Such was the case with “Kundun.” Chinese officials were incensed that Disney had made the movie, and even threatened to ban Disney from their box office market if “Kundun” was released. The company stood their ground, which resulted in the ban of both Scorsese AND Disney movies. However, it didn’t take long for Disney to apologize and make amends with the highly profitable country.

#8: Justin Bieber

Bieber’s got a bit of a reputation for being a troublemaker, but who would’ve thought that it would get him banned from an entire country? Bieber’s various misdemeanors, including the infamous drag racing debacle, has resulted in his ban from China. He wasn’t really barred for anything specific – it’s more that Chinese officials seemingly just didn’t like his attitude. Beijing’s culture bureau said that “he has engaged in a series of bad behaviors…which caused discontent among the public,” and in order to “purify” China from his attitude and negative behavior, they have decided to ban the popular artist. Something tells us there were a lot of young Beliebers in that country who didn’t agree.

#7: Miley Cyrus

Here’s an idea – think before you act – and before you post. In 2009, a photograph began circulating that depicted a group of young adults, including Miley Cyrus, seemingly mocking the appearance of Asians. This caught the attention of Chinese officials, who immediately banned her from the country, saying, “Miss Cyrus has made it clear she is no friend of China or anyone of East Asian descent.” They concluded their statement by declaring that they didn’t want to “pollute” the children of their country with Cyrus’s “ignorance.” Miley then defended herself, saying that she was only making “a silly face” and didn’t intend it to be construed as a racist gesture.

#6: Bob Dylan

Apparently the Never Ending Tour is not without its limitations. In 2010, Dylan’s concerts in Beijing and Shanghai were called off, which subsequently destroyed his entire Asian tour. The reason for these cancellations? Chinese officials were seemingly worried about Dylan’s status as an icon of the counterculture movement. You know, that movement which was prevalent and popular in the 1960s? While few have considered Dylan a subversive radical for decades, this didn’t seem to matter to Chinese officials, who banned him solely based on his reputation. Though some Chinese fans were likely disappointed, given the harsh reviews Dylan’s live performances have been getting in mid-2010s, perhaps they’re not missing much.

#5: JAY-Z

Now we can add explicit lyrics to the list of things that can get you banned from China. Jay-Z was set to perform at Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai in October 2006, but this concert was cancelled due to concerns over his inappropriate choice of words in his songs. As the Chinese Culture Ministry declared, “Some of Jay-Z’s songs contain too much vulgar language.” We’ve heard of censoring albums, but completely banning artists from performing due to crudeness definitely seems like something else entirely.

#4: Harrison Ford

If there’s one thing the Chinese government doesn’t like, it’s arguing for Tibetan independence. Harrison Ford began to take an interest in Tibetan and Chinese politics after his then-wife, Melissa Mathison, wrote the screenplay for the same movie that resulted in the ban of both Martin Scorsese and Disney, “Kundun”. In 1995, Ford testified before the United States Foreign Relations Committee regarding the human rights violations that were allegedly occurring in China while also arguing for Tibetan independence. As you can imagine, this greatly upset the Chinese government, and he was subsequently banned from entering the country.

#3: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has REALLY pissed off the Chinese government. In 2016, Gaga met with the Dalai Lama to discuss various subjects, including yoga and compassion. As the Dalai Lama is considered an enemy to Chinese officials, Gaga’s meeting with the man was immediately condemned. Her music was subsequently banned from the country, and Gaga was prohibited from appearing on Chinese television and radio. This isn’t the first time her music was banned, either. In 2011, some of her work was blacklisted for being too vulgar.

#2: Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt is yet another A-list celebrity who has been banned from the country stemming from an association with the Dalai Lama. In 1997, Pitt starred as mountaineer Heinrich Harrer in the film “Seven Years in Tibet,” which is about Heinrich’s friendship with the spiritual leader. This movie proved to be extremely controversial in China, as the government heavily criticized its association with the Dalai Lama and its negative portrayal of the Chinese. Many people from the film’s production, including director Jean-Jacques Annaud and Brad Pitt, were banned from entering China. The Chinese have since softened their stance, and Pitt has been allowed back into the country.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Gigi Hadid

Made Stereotypical Asian Eyes to Imitate a Buddha Cookie

Selena Gomez

Met with the Dalai Lama


Noel Gallagher Performed at a Free Tibet Concert

#1: Richard Gere

Richard Gere has undoubtedly taken the biggest career hit due to his ban from the country. Gere’s life changed forever on the night of the 1993 Academy Awards. While presenting an award, Gere went off-script to protest China’s occupation and control of Tibet and described the “horrendous human rights situation” present in the country. He was then banned from China, and his career seemingly took a huge hit. Because China is such a massive box office market, studios were suddenly afraid to cast Gere, as they believed his presence would offend the Chinese and their movies wouldn’t make as much money. Despite the setback, Gere continues to fight for Tibetan independence to this day.


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