Beijing's rift with American pop culture won't keep Taylor Swift from Chinese fans

Taylor Swift's timing is either serendipitous or awkward. Take your pick.

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The Grammy Award-winning singer, no stranger to controversy, plans to perform in Shanghai next month, despite a widening rift between the Chinese government and American entertainers and pro sports figures over protests in Hong Kong.

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The protests hit home with the American public when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet supporting the anti-government activists, riled by a plan that would allow extradition to China from the once-British territory that has maintained more independence than the mainland. The tweet was taken down, and the NBA initially tried to distance itself, drawing criticism at home.

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How Swift will fare has yet to be seen. The singer is in the midst of promoting her latest album, "Lover," a top-seller in China that includes "You Need to Calm Down," a song that opens with pointed comments on Twitter snark that could be applied equally well to politics or personal lives. "Say it in the street, that's a knockout, but you say it in a tweet, that's a cop-out," the 29-year-old observes.

"Lover" became the most pre-saved album by a female artist in its first day on Apple Music, and it's China’s "most consumed international full-length album" this year, selling 1 million copies in its first week, according to Bloomberg.

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Swift, who made headlines with criticism of President Trump earlier this year, is the latest A-lister to join the e-commerce giant Alibaba's 11.11 countdown, a buildup to Singles Day, an alternative to Valentine's Day that's also a major shopping event. Previous visitors include Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, Mariah Carey and Pharrell Williams, according to an announcement.

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Swift's visit is a contrast not only with Morey but the creators of "South Park," the animated satire that was openly critical of Beijing in its "China Band" episode this fall. The creators issued a mocking apology on Twitter after the show, which panned Hollywood and U.S. entertainers for tailoring their work to avoid Beijing censors.

President Xi Jinping's government banned the show afterward.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.