Changing China

Giant on the move

Olympics has an Audrey Hepburn moment

August 13, 2008

Rings in the ceremonyFirst it was the fireworks (see below). Now it turns out the opening ceremony to the Beijing Games had its very own Audrey Hepburn moment.

Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, who was celebrated across China as the angelic voice with the adorable face who sang “Ode to the Motherland” at Friday’s ceremony, was merely a photogenic stand-in for the real singer, who was rejected because of her appearance.

A director of the opening ceremony, Chen Qigang, said Lin’s voice was overdubbed by the singing of the real child singer Yang Peiyi.

This is nothing new in the world of showbiz, of course. Marni Nixon provided the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Deborah Kerr in The King and I. (Would you call her an unsung hero?)

But a search on Google Blogs found a lot of critical reaction. Here are a couple of representative examples:

New York Chique: Frankly, I think that’s disgusting. Honestly- they’re 7 and 9 years old! So young! and I can’t believe that they picked one little Chinese girl over another. In my opinion, they were both adorable.

Charles Lee: For me, I think it is another social commentary on the value of image over substance in humanity.

There’s an excellent piece by Jo Ling Ken, including some Chinese reaction, at Dispatches from China.

To return to the question about the fireworks, does it matter all that much?

Games organisers certainly didn’t think so. Games Executive Vice President Wang Wei said it was done to achieve a better effect. “It was a joint decision to achieve the most theatrical effects,” Wang said. “I do not think there is anything wrong with that.”

Is he right?

PHOTO: The Olympic rings seen during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium, August 8, 2008. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez


No comments on that.

I’m regret to hear that. Yesterday, one of my coworker told me that. I had thought it’s just rumor.

Sophisticated feeling now.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

Nothing wrong. There are many Bollywood films where the actors/actresses are not the real singers. There are many Hollywood films where the actors use stunts men. Credit has to be given to the real singer though.


Reuters how can you publish this kind of trash? You are supposed to represent the crême de la crême of news.

Yes it is not moral what happend. But it is nothing new. What is the added value of this news.

Please focus your talent and valuable time on meaningful issues. I believe you are not paid to reach the audience of tabloids like Paris Match and the Sun.

Posted by Locus publicus | Report as abusive

Locus publicus, before thou open thy mouth, thou shall first open thy eyes. If you look above the article it says The Reuters Olympic BLOG. It’s a BLOG entry!

And anyway, THIS IS NEWS!!!

Good job Kevin, do keep it up!

Posted by Ben Israel | Report as abusive

Almost as irritating as the advertisements on Reuters video.

Posted by hesse | Report as abusive

This is the Olympics. People are watching because they want to see people perform amazingly. Of course it’s important to look your best & be healthy, but if Phelps doesn’t look like a model, shouldn’t they get a model to stand in & receive his medal? This is news because people do care about being duped. That’s encouraging to me. I’m a professional singer who’s been rejected because of my appearance for model-types who can lip-sync. I look good, but I’m not tall enough to stand by the girl they’ve hired to lip-sync.


This is not news. This is just stating a fact like; Water is Wet, or Communist Governments Lie. Of course everything we see in China is staged, faked or a lie. The bigger your government and the more power and control you surrender to government the more your government will manipulate the facts to stay in power and gain more control. This is just another example of why we all need smaller and less intrusive governments and not a bigger ones. Don’t be surprised; be educated.

Posted by da Truth Hunter | Report as abusive

Ben Israel you should understand that you do not talk into BLOGS but rather write in the them. So rethink when writting ‘open thy mouth’.

Blog articles do represent the newswire and have an effect on its reputation. Please do no be so ignorant in the future.

Posted by Locus publicus | Report as abusive

Frankly, I think it’s disgusting how they pulled a Milli Vanilli on us, but then again we are now living in a time where image is everything and humanity falls somewhre behind that.

As for the fireworks, who cares really? They did a great job faking it… it was believable… I loved it. most importantly they set a standard on what an opening ceremony should look like. So, well done China!


The real issue is the little singer behind the scene did not get any credit from the director in the post-ceremony media conference. She believes it be proud to be part of the historical event, probably biggest performance of her life thus far. She had no regret, but those “adults” who engineered the whole thing had the guts to ignore her as a performer!

Posted by Ralph Wang | Report as abusive

Locus publicus, I could´t disagree more with you. In my opinion this is news, I find it interesting, but maybe you think I don´t deserve reading Reuters Blogs and I should read other webs. Thank you Kevin for letting us know about this. You don´t need to be a top educated person or an expert to read Reuters news, quite the opposite, Reuters should make it easy for everyone to understand anything which is news. Locus, sounds like you´re a bit of an elitist or a snob.

Posted by Laura | Report as abusive

talking about government lies, hey did anybody find nuclear weapons in Iraq?

Posted by dw | Report as abusive

With a population of over 1 billion people China had no young girl that could both sing and portray the right image? I saw the picture of the actual singer and she was cute too.

I hope Vancouver doesn’t pull any stunts like this. Given that it rarely snows in the City of Vancouver in February, maybe the video feeds will be digitally enhanced to make it look like there’s snow on the ground. ;) (Don’t worry – the sports needing snow will be in Whistler or in the hills of N. Vancouver where there is snow.)


I will let you know why I think this story is important. When this type of “misleading” activity happens in “the West,” it is criticized by both the “West” and China.

When it happens in China, it is criticized only in the “West.”

You can define that if you want, but I think it “stinks” either way…

Is it “wrong” to do this? I don’t think so as long as you give appropriate credit where it belongs–prior to the action taking place.

People who purchase albums or spend money on items from “singers” who actually aren’t singing feel mislead–all of which could be avoided with appropriate notification.

Although, I am not sure what is “right” about this activity either… Why would China think the young Yang Peiyi is not a face to represent their country? I have to admit that I think China has adopted the “West’s” marketing and false impressions of beauty, and I can’t figure that out since China always seems to complain about the West being preoccupied with fashion, cavalier attitudes, …

Now we see that China isn’t so different from the USA–both people are quite acceptable and talented while it is the leaders that I worry about…


Will Chinese authorities replace their talented sports persons with models walking on ramps ?

Posted by San | Report as abusive

To Counsel:
Actually the lip-synching “stunt” was voluntarily disclosed by the production team of the opening ceremony to Chinese journalists, who decided to reveal it to the general Chinese audience via Chinese media. Many chinese bloggers have given their share in criticizing this “misleading” activity and giving their support and admiration to the initially uncredited little girl, Yang Peiyi. It’s not that China thinks the real face of the voice is not appealing enough. It’s just some CCP official’s pathetic idea that she should be replaced. So what gives you the impression that this kinda dishonesty is only criticized in the West but not in China?

Posted by Jessica Lu | Report as abusive

Are the Olympic rings a true representation or just a doctored image?

At this point, I don’t see anything spectactular in the Olympics in China because I do not know what is real. I see a lot of doctored images on a daily basis on blogs and other sites where people express their creative imaginations and talent, and some of them are amazing images. But I know that’s all they are – images. If they were the real thing, I would be enthralled.

Olympics 2008 does not enthrall me. I’ve seen more interesting things done with Photoshop.


Thanks for all the comments. Locus publicus, I think this was obviously news and something we couldn’t avoid reporting on. And note that we haven’t criticised anyone, merely given people a forum to discuss it.
I heard a joke about it last night. Someone said, “What next? Will Yao Ming turn out to be a little guy on stilts?”

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

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