Mon, Dec 5, 2016 | updated 07:59 AM IST

China's latest paranoia: Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift

Updated: Aug 25, 2016 11:12 IST

Hong Kong, Aug.25 (ANI): While blind activist Chen Guangcheng, lawyer Zhou Shifeng and publisher Lee Bo might have a lot in common - as persons being hounded by the Communist Party leadership in China, what do they have in common with Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift? This group has now fallen on the wrong side of Beijing.

An increasingly paranoid leadership inside China is resorting to the kind of strong arm tactics that raise important and valid questions about the direction of the world's newest self-proclaimed superpower. Seeing demons where none exist, it banned Taylor Swift's clothing line titled TS 89 (she was born in 1989), simply because, in the conspiracy theory world of the Communist Party of China, TS 89 directly referred to the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989.

After Taylor Swift, the next American Grammy award winning artist to face China's 'propaganda department' rap was Lady Gaga. According to The Guardian newspaper which quoted Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, Lady Gaga's 19 minute meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama garnered sharp reaction from China, which went ahead and banned the dissemination of the artist's content.

"Chinese websites and media organizations were ordered to stop uploading or distributing her songs in a sign of Beijing's irritation," said the 'Apple Daily' quoted by The Guardian.

These two cases at least do not involve personal harm. What of the over 300 lawyers and activists picked up in a major sweep across China in July/August 2015? "From July 2015 to early February 2016, some 318 human rights lawyers and activists from across the country were targeted, according to Sharon Hom, executive director of the NGO Human Rights in China," as quoted in Al Jazeera.

As China prepares for a crucial national congress of the ruling Communist Party in late 2017, expect more of the same as Xi Jinping struggles to assert his leadership over a fractious group of politicians. Looking for rivals in the thicket of Chinese elite politics, it is the intellectual classes that will be targeted - whether they are relegated to the ninth and lowest stinking class of Chinese society in a re-run of the 50 year old Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao is no longer just a matter of armchair conjecture, but a real life concern for many. (ANI)