Published on: February 12, 2024
Taylor Swift mania is a truly global phenomenon—one that is also sweeping China, perhaps to the surprise of some readers.
The Eras Tour isn’t scheduled to stop in China. Swift last performed in China at Alibaba Group’s Singles’ Day gala in 2019 (pictured)—and before that, she had shows in China on various tours.
But that hasn’t stopped the legions of Chinese “Swifties” from getting in on the action.
The Eras Tour film dropped in China on December 31—and has since dominated the box office. In January, the film drew 2 million Chinese moviegoers and earned USD $13 million. Like her concerts, tickets to the movie are hard to come by—and showings are a real party, with fans dressed up in Swift-themed outfits and belting out lyrics.
Meanwhile, on Chinese social media, the conversation over the last week hasn’t been focused on Swift’s appearance at the Super Bowl—although that also drew netizens’ attention on Monday morning local time. Rather, the chatter has been all about her four nights of shows in Tokyo from February 7-10, which marked the first Asian stop of the Eras Tour.
It’s hard to pin down a precise number, but several thousands—if not tens of thousands—of Chinese fans travelled to Tokyo to see Swift live. Several WPIC employees made the trip—they described a significant Chinese presence in the crowd, and Tokyo-bound flights packed with fellow concert-goers.
Over the last several weeks, there has been a buzz on Xiaohongshu (also known as Little Red Book) about how to navigate Japan’s digital ticketing platform, seating charts for the Tokyo Dome, “surprise song” speculation, outfit planning, Tokyo hotel recommendations, and more. From February 7 onwards, Xiaohongshu was flooded with concert videos, photos, and show-going tips. Posts with the tag “Taylor’s Japan concert” were viewed 3.1 million times on the platform.
Xiaohongshu is beyond comparison—it’s kind of like Instagram, but it’s more of an interactive “life guide”, a digital space to swap recommendations about trips, restaurants, outfits, etc. Many concert-related posts offered practical advice, reflecting the enormous Chinese presence at Eras Tour Tokyo—and the wider interest in the shows for those who could not attend.
A similar buzz is now developing around Swift’s next Asian stop in Singapore—where Chinese people can now visit visa-free.
Weibo, akin to Twitter, is the real locus of China’s celebrity-following culture. Weibo has a special feature called “super hashtag” (chaohua) to categorize posts about celebrities or popular TV shows. Over the weekend, Taylor Swift’s chaohua climbed into the top 10 by engagement. Moreover, posts about the Eras Tour stop in Japan racked up over 10 million views.
I recently spoke to a journalist who was curious about the standing of US culture and US brands in China. While Swift mania is unique, her enormous popularity in China speaks to the broader Chinese interest in US culture and soaring Chinese demand for US products.
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