Another Olympic Secret: Who Was Actually Singing as the National Flag Entered the Stadium? (Updated)

20080811073619f6094 Lin Miaoke (林妙可),the adorable nine-year-old girl who sang “Ode to the Motherland” 《歌唱祖国》when the Chinese national flag entered the Bird’s Nest Stadium during the Olympics Opening Ceremony, is now the hottest child star in China. Her image was also on the front page of the New York Times and thousands of other print media reaching billions of readers around the globe. But in a recent interview with Beijing People’s Broadcasting Station, Chen Qigang (陈其钢), the General Music Designer of the Opening Ceremony, revealed that the voice everyone heard singing at the Opening Ceremony was actually a pre-recording of another child, Yang Peiyi (杨沛宜), a student of the Attached Primary School of Beijing University at Zhongguancun. Chen is a renowned contemporary composer and French citizen. The following excerpts are from the interview with Chen Qigang, translated by CDT:

Chen Qigang: The first condition was that the director wants the image to be very cute. We selected about ten children… Then we had to choose one from those who had a good image who can sing well…

We chose one ten-year-old child, whose voice was really good. All the rehearsals were using her singing… In the end the director thought her image was not the most appropriate, she was a little too old… so regrettably, we had to let her go.

Then, as we chose another singer, the standard was that she needs to be seven years old. Lin Miaoke (林妙可) was one of them, another was Yang Peiyi (杨沛宜), and there were others.

Then we went to the Central People’s Radio Station to do the recording…

Finally we made the decision that the voice we would use was Yang Peiyi’s.

Interviewer: Yang Peiyi?

Chen Qigang: Yes.

…The reason was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression.

Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in the aspect of voice, Yang Peiyi (杨沛宜) is flawless, in each member of our team’s view.

Interviewer: … So the one in front of camera is Lin Miaoke, but the voice [we heard] is from Yang Peiyi?

Chen Qigang: Yes. This was a last minute decision, we had to do it. We had been through several inspections,they were all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were spectators from various divisions, especially leader(s) from the the Politburo, who gave the opinion: It must change. This is to say, we had no choice.

… We have a responsibility to face the audience of the whole country, to give this explanation. Everyone should understand this in this way: this is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture. Especially the entrance of our national flag, this is an extremely important, extremely serious matter. Then we made such a choice. I think it is fair to both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi.

That is to say, we have a perfect voice (in our team’s view), and a perfect image and representation, two combined together.

…But as far as Lin Miaoke is concerned, since we have two recordings – one from Lin Miaoke, another from Yang Peiyi – and their voices are not too different, so when Lin Miaoke was singing, she may not have realized that was not her own voice.

The actual interview is on

Update: Beijing based financial magazine Caijing published a commentary entitled Olympics Lip-Syncing Performance Violates the National Interest and Opposes the Olympic Spirit on their wesite. The author Yang Binbin (杨彬彬) wrote:

In the early morning of August 9, after the Olympics Opening Ceremony ended, the entire directing team met the press. The General Director Zhang Yimou said, the most moving scene for him during the entire Opening Ceremony was when the nine-year-old Lin Miaoke sang the “Paean to the Motherland.” “When this little girl sang the ‘Ode to the Motherland,’ I was moved every time we did a rehearsal on this, from the bottom of my heart,” said Zhang.

… To our countrymen, if “fake drinks,” “fake medicine,” “fake soccer competitions,” and “fake joint ventures” are all like the “fake singing,” becoming common vocabulary in our lives, and even justified and glorified in the name of “national interests” or “interests of the state,” this is really unfortunate for the Chinese economy.

Many Chinese bloggers expressed their anger about the director’s final decision. The following photos of Yang Peiyi are from Chinese BBS and blogs, collected by supporters of Peiyi:

See also:

* Olympic child singing star revealed as fake from the AFP.

* Olympics: Child singer revealed as fake from the Guardian.

* China Olympic ceremony star mimed from BBC.

* Is It Live? Or Is It Beijing? from the Wall Street Journal blog.

* Not only were the Olympic Fireworks fake, so was the 7 year old singer from The Inquisitr, Australia.

* Olympic Balladeer’s Voice Was Dubbed from the New York Times.

* Official Acknowledges Opening Ceremony Lip Syncing from the Washington Post.

* Olympic girl seen but not heard from CNN.

More of this news on the Web, via GoogleNews.

What do Chinese bloggers think about this story? Here is a widely spread one sentence comment from long time blogger Shiniankanchai (十年砍柴):

The motherland is never to be sung for, but to be cheated. (祖国哪是用来歌唱的,而是用来忽悠的)

John Kennedy of Global Voices translated some netizens’ responses from Chinese cyberspace:

* (From a twitter🙂 Motherfucker, this “Ode to the Motherland” thing has already gone way beyond just lip-synching; putting in a stand-in singer is no fracking different from having a stand-in test-taker, and this is a huge misguidance to the youth of China. Zhang Yimou, you get your butt out here and apologize!

* Through his actions, Zhang Yimou has effectively told all the impressionable minors and children of China that for “harmony”, for “odes to the motherland”, children can be made to deceive!

* Both of these kids are outstanding, but I think both of them will be hurt as a result of this~ Aye, this whole thing was done too…even if one of them didn’t have a perfect child’s voice, or if one wasn’t shockingly pretty, we’d have been able to accept it…

But now, never mind that we can’t accept this, do you think that the kids can stand it?

Adults made the decision, but they have to deal with the consequences, which are unfair to these two little girls~

For anyone thinking of defending this incident, please just think: what if Yang Peiyi was your own child? What if Lin Miaoke was your own child?

Sometimes, things like the bottom line and principles are more important than national interest; at least they would be if those were my kids.

More Chinese bloggers’ comments are here. Many of them are already censored by authorities. English bloggers’ comments are here.

The following video clips captured explanation from BOCOG and IOC officials:


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