Chinese State Media Gushes with 'Love and Enthusiasm' for Taylor Swift

The Chinese government newspaper Global Times published an effusive homage to pop star Taylor Swift on Monday, thanking her for scheduling a “convenient and accessible” concert in Singapore and quoting fans declaring her an “inspiration to many.”

Swift chose the lavishly wealthy city-state of Singapore as her only “Eras Tour” stop in the region, meaning Chinese fans would have to travel internationally to see her. She is scheduled to perform in the country through March 9.

The Global Times took her visit to Singapore as an opportunity both to acclaim the singer and advertise Beijing’s recent agreement with Singapore allowing mutual visa-free travel, allowing Chinese passport holders to travel to Singapore with minimal documentation.

Swift has for years been one of America’s most popular figures in communist China, the product of engaging in friendly visits and helping promote regime-friendly businesses such as Alibaba. Swift made an appearance in China for Alibaba in 2019, helping promote sales associated with the shopping holiday “Singles Day.”

Chinese state media refers to Swift with the Chinese nickname “Meimei.” In December, following the release of Swift’s Eras Tour concert film, the Global Times similarly gushed about Swift’s “unique appeal” and urged Chinese artists to emulate the use of concert films to promote their careers.

The Chinese government has also praised Swift for her commentary against former American President Donald Trump, referring to her as a “true queen” in 2020. Swift’s political opinions carry sway among her fans. A poll published in January indicated that as many as 18 percent of American voters were “more likely” or “significantly more likely” to vote for a candidate if Swift supported them.

Swift has not at press time rebuffed any praise from the Chinese government, despite its status as one of the world’s most prolific human rights abuses and an active perpetrator of genocide, nor has she condemned China’s genocide of Uyghur and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan, its ethnic cleansing operations in Tibet, its widespread repression of nearly all religions, and its violent persecution of suspected and open political dissidents.

Rather than condemn Swift for not scheduling any tour stops in China, the Global Times praised her for choosing Singapore, “convenient and accessible for her Chinese admirers.” Her absence, the state newspaper exclaimed, did not stop “the love and enthusiasm from her Chinese fans.”

The Global Times quoted zealous fans who described crying at her concerts, thanked her for being a “gateway to learning English,” and showed off homemade Taylor Swift paraphernalia. One fan thanked Swift for her “unwavering support” to fans; another called her akin to a “talented friend from my same generation.”

In addition to an uncritical look at Swift’s tour and its effects on young Chinese citizens, the Global Times used the opportunity to promote its “visa-free” agreement with Singapore. The two neighboring countries announced a deal in January to allow citizens to travel “without a visa when engaging in activities such as tourism, family visits, and business or other private matters, with a stay of no more than 30 days.” The visa-free deal notably does not extent to those engaging in activity concerning to the Chinese Communist Party, such as journalism.

Taylor Swift fans allegedly told the Global Times the visa-free deal made their visit to Singapore “akin to travelling domestically.”

Taylor Swift performs at Accor Stadium on February 23, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

The outlet also repeated its urging that Chinese musicians consider filming their concerts and releasing movies such as the Eras Tour film to expand their influence. The Chinese Communist Party strictly monitors and regulates the music industry, coercing musicians to make political statements beneficial to the Party – such as the parade of Chinese rappers enthusiastically supporting police brutality in Hong Kong in 2019 – so an artist’s success can be easily manipulated to benefit the dictatorship.

In December, as the Eras Tour movie debuted in China, the Global Times applauded the film’s quality, a marked contrast to how the state-run newspaper typically disparages American film releases.

“Despite being shorter than the actual concert’s average duration of 3.5 hours, the film still fully captures the essence of the live performance,” the Global Times reviewed. “Taylor Swift’s unique appeal makes replicating the success of the Eras Tour challenging.”

China Daily, another government propaganda newspaper, repeated the call for Chinese artists to copy Swift on Sunday, stating that there is demand in the country for “taking blockbuster concerts to the big screen in coming years as net-savvy youngsters, who were raised on social media, have now shifted their focus to personal experience with music.”

“When watching concert films, audiences can relish the experience without worrying about geographical distances, economic constraints, or health-related issues,” China Daily suggested, calling Swift’s concert film an inspiration for similar offerings. “Besides, they can enjoy the comfort of indulging in snacks and drinks, or even singing along and taking selfies – all through the convenience of a seat that offers unobstructed views of their favorite artiste.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

 


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