Aside from getting the familiar Friends cast back together, Friends: The Reunion (which premiered today on HBO Max) also features a handful of celebrity cameos. However, while music stars Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and BTS pop up in the special, they are nowhere to be found in the Chinese version of it.
As Vice notes, the scenes featuring the music stars are not present on the versions of the show that premiered on Youku, iQiYi, and Tencent Video, three of China’s biggest streaming platforms. Other guest stars on the special — including David Beckham, Cara Delevingne, Cindy Crawford, and Malala Yousafzai — appear as normal on the Chinese versions. The cause of the censorship is not currently clear and Tencent, iQiYi, and Youku owner Alibaba did not respond to the publication’s request for comment. Vice notes, though, that fans have gained access to clips of Gaga, Bieber, and BTS’ appearances and are sharing them on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo.
While the reason behind the artists being blocked from the special in China isn’t confirmed, all three have prior experience with backlash in the country, as Vice also notes. Gaga has been banned from Chinese television since her 2016 meeting with the Dalai Lama, who the Chinese government considers to be a separatist. Bieber was previously banned from performing in China due to “bad behavior” in 2017, as authorities put it. As for BTS, they faced calls for boycott in China in 2020, after RM endorsed the alliance between the US and South Korea in the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Check out the (apparently controversial) clips of Gaga, Bieber, and BTS on Friends: The Reunion below.
🎥Justin Bieber en el especial "Friends: The Reunion"
— Justin Media México (@jbmediamx) May 27, 2021