Taylor Swift's '1989' Merch Might Cause Censorship Problems in China

Taylor Swift's '1989' Merch Might Cause Censorship Problems in China
The phrase "T.S. 1989" means two very different things in North America and China. Here in North America (and elsewhere around the world), it clearly refers to pop singer Taylor Swift and her smash album 1989. In China, however, it could be seen to represent the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, when hundreds were killed during political protests in Beijing. Unfortunately for Swift, this means that her new line of Chinese merch might prove to be rather controversial.

The line, which is being launched in partnership online retailer JD.com, includes various articles of clothing. Many of the items, which can be seen in a promotional video, are emblazoned with the title of 1989.

From what we can see in the video, none of the items feature the exact slogan "T.S. 1989." That phrase does appear in many North America merch items, however, and it's currently not clear if those same products will be available in China. (One such North American item can be seen above.)

The Guardian points out that Chinese authorities are very sensitive to any mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Because the final crackdown on the protest happened on June 4 of 1989, China has banned any combinations of the numbers 6, 4 and 89 on social media sites. As such, some folks reportedly refer to the event as "May 35" to avoid detection.

It remains to be seen if censors will take exception to the items. Currently, 1989 albums can be purchased through JD.com, so it's entirely possible that the clothing items might not cause any bad blood between Swift and the authorities.

Taylor Swift will be coming to China to play three shows in Shanghai in November. See her international tour schedule here.