Katy Perry courts controversy with sunflower outfit and Taiwan flag at Taipei concert

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, 3:21pm

US popstar Katy Perry courted controversy this week by wearing a sunflower-covered dress and the flag of the Republic of China during a concert at the Taipei Arena on Tuesday night.

The sunflower was the symbol of anti-China protests which broke out in Taiwan last spring, culminating in a three-week occupation of the island's parliament, in objection to a controversial trade services pact with the mainland.

Artists have attracted criticism from the Chinese authorities in the past for displaying the symbols of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, which Beijing regards as a renegade province awaiting reunification.

While it is unclear whether Perry intended a political statement, Taiwan newspaper The Liberty Times reported that members of the crowd were "moved to tears" by the pop star's apparent embrace of the Sunflower Movement.

"Singing with a national flag of the Republic of China. So moving,” wrote one fan about the concert, according to Quartz.

It would not be the first time a popstar has inadvertently taken a political stance with regard to China. Jazz performer Kenny G was forced to frantically backtrack after he was photographed at the Occupy Central pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

He later said he did not support the protests, contradicting witness statements.

“I don’t even know how to speak Mandarin. That’s what you speak, right?” Perry asked the crowd before her performance.

Perry has performed with a sunflower microphone since at least last June, when she was accompanied by sunflower-dressed dancers at a concert in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also wore a sunflower dress during performances in Guangzhou and Shanghai earlier this month.

According to Quartz, photos of Perry wearing the flag were deleted from Baidu and other social media.

"Can’t we discuss a fact? If she wears the flag, she wears it," wrote one frustrated netizen.