China bans mimes for New Year TV

Rule comes after Olympic lip-synching fiasco

BEIJING -- Embarrassed by a lip-synching child who sang at the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony, Chinese authorities are ordering performers not to fake it during the country's biggest television show of the year.

"Choose performers with real singing ability," said a notice posted Wednesday on the Web site of China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

The announcement follows last month's news that the Ministry of Culture might penalize professional performers who fake it on stage.

Lip-synching is common in China, and celebrities such as actress Zhang Ziyi have been criticized for faking their way through performances.

The public made fun of Zhang after she mimed a performance on this year's "CCTV Spring Festival Gala," China's biggest television show of the year.

The patriotic, star-heavy gala is broadcast on central television on the eve of Chinese New Year and is watched by hundreds of millions of people across the country.

The new SARFT statement orders no lip-synching during the annual gala, as well as "healthy" lyrics.

Lip-synching in China made world headlines in August when Olympics opening ceremony organizers decided to have a 9-year-old girl mouth along to a song recorded by a 7-year-old, saying it was best to match the best voice and the best performer.

"Olympic karaoke," one Spanish newspaper declared.

Organizers defended the switch, saying their goal was to "achieve the most theatrical effect."
But the ceremony's music director, Chen Qigang, at the time said he had to come out with the truth because the offstage singer "doesn't deserve to be hidden."

Now China's Ministry of Culture is considering penalizing professional performers who fake their singing or instrument playing during concerts, a ministry official told the China Daily newspaper last month.

People or groups caught faking it twice during a two-year period could lose their business license, the official said.
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