China said on Tuesday U.S. pop star Lady Gaga’s meeting with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama had unleashed “anger” in the country, as internet users criticized her for meeting a man China condemns as a separatist.
The barrage of angry and critical comments came after the singer posted several photos of herself with the Dalai Lama on Sunday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the U.S. city of Indianapolis on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Lady Gaga, known for songs such as “Bad Romance” and “Born This Way”, chatted with the Dalai Lama on topics including generosity to the poor and mental health, according to video of the event.
China considers the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, to be a dangerous “splittist”, or separatist. The Dalai Lama says he only wants genuine autonomy for his remote homeland.
“There is a broad consensus internationally about what kind of person the Dalai Lama is and what he does internationally,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing.
“After the relevant incident happened, if you look at comments on the Chinese Internet, their anger has welled up,” he added, referring to Lady Gaga’s meeting.
Lady Gaga has not remarked on the blowback from Chinese internet users on her social media accounts. Reuters could not immediately reach a representative for comment.
Lady Gaga is popular with many young Chinese but has never held a concert in mainland China, though she has in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.
“Lady Gaga, you’re never coming back to China,” wrote one user on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblog.
Other comments were less polite, using obscene language or cursing the pop star. Such meetings with the Dalai Lama often get foreign artists put on blacklists in China.
The Ministry of Culture, which regulates the activities of foreign artists in China, did not respond to calls for comment.
In 2008, Icelandic singer Bjork shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” at a Shanghai concert after performing her song “Declare Independence”, angering the government and local fans alike.