• Does Taylor Swift Have Bad Blood With China?

    China’s regime knew Taylor Swift was trouble when she walked in — and the singer might not be able to shake it off.

    Swift recently announced a line of China-exclusive merchandise promoting her “1989 World Tour,” which will include two November concerts in Shanghai. The tour showcases songs from her latest album, “1989.” The cover looks like this:

    Cover of Taylor Swift's album "1989." Obtained under fair use.
    Cover of Taylor Swift’s album “1989.” Obtained under fair use.

    But in China, the initials “T.S.” with the digits “1989” evoke the most horrific, deliberately suppressed event in recent Chinese memory. On June 4 of that year, Chinese troops forcibly ejected civilian protestors from Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing and injuring thousands and thousands.

    In today’s China, government-approved social media networks automatically censor all direct or indirect references to the Tiananmen Square events. That includes any combination of the events’ dates (“6,” “4” and “89”) — as well as the creative protesters’ workaround date “May 35.”

    And every year around the anniversary of the massacre, searches for “Tiananmen Square” and the iconic “Tank Man” return zero results. (RELATED: Hong Kong Nears ‘Fake Democracy’: Elect Any Candidate China Approves)

    So far, ads for the Taylor Swift-themed merchandise have featured the digits “1989” boldly emblazoned on t-shirts. There are also designs involving references to Swift’s song lyrics, including “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.”

    The Guardian points out that various Swift items for U.S. consumers include the “T.S. 1989” message. It is unclear whether this material will also be available in China.

    Swift’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: China Won’t Let Muslims Fast For Ramadan)

    The preemptive release of Chinese merchandise is reportedly an attempt by Swift to counter the sale of knockoff Swift products in China. Swift has shown her business-savvy side before, having threatened to remove her songs from Apple’s new music streaming service unless it paid royalties to artists during its three-month free trial period.

    Swift’s Chinese merchandise goes on sale Aug. 8.

    Follow Ivan Plis on Twitter

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