Katy Perry’s no stranger to causing controversy with her clothes—or lack thereof—but this time, it’s not just her attire but what she wore on top that’s creating a commotion.
While performing in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei on Tuesday, the pastel-tressed Perry briefly wore the national flag of the Republic of China—Taiwan’s flag—around her neck like a cape. She also had on a gown decorated with sunflowers.
It might seem like nothing new for Perry, but the issues stem from the fact that, in Taiwan, both of those images are generally considered to be in support, politically, of the island state’s independence from China. As per Quartz, sunflowers were the symbol of anti-China protests in Taiwan in 2014, and in 2012, the Republic of China flag was removed from the Olympic games. By donning these symbols, Perry was potentially supporting Taiwan’s right to independence. So, whether it was intentional or not, the pop star put out a pretty loaded statement.
Still, considering that sunflowers have been a recurring motif in her concerts for quite a while, it seems unlikely that a political message was what Perry was going for. She’s also never been one to shy way from wearing a flag and has even sported a million incarnations of the American flag, and at least one Brazilian flag muumuu.
But that didn’t stop Perry’s overseas fans (many of whom call her the incredible nickname “Fruit Sister,” after her affinity for wearing food-themed costumes) from freaking out a little online about the debacle. “Singing with a national flag of the Republic of China. So moving,” wrote one. Others were not as thrilled. Said another, “I’m speechless over Fruit Sister. I suppose she has no chance to come to the mainland anymore, though she might not care. These performers who intervene in other countries’ politics are the most annoying.”
As Quartz notes, Perry upsetting mainland China could not only impact her massive fan base there, but her sales, as well. The photos of Fruit Sister wearing her controversial flag cape have, reportedly, already vanished entirely from Chinese social media.