Hong Kong singer-turned-businessman to perform 'My Chinese Dream' at CCTV New Year gala

The news on Friday of Cheung's 'comeback' was met with indifference in Hong Kong and much ridicule in the mainland

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 12:58pm

Cheung Ming Man, a Hong Kong-born singer-turned business executive, shot to fame in the mainland 30 years ago after performing the Putonghua song "My Chinese Heart" in 1984's CCTV Chinese New Year Gala. Now Cheung, 57, is returning to national TV station's stage to sing a new song called "My Chinese Dream", China's Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Friday.

Although details of the song remained undisclosed, its title, which echoes President Xi Jinping's favourite political slogan "Chinese Dream," seems to indicate it's going to be a late sequel to Cheung's initial "patriotic" hit.     

Known as the first Hongkonger ever to have publicly performed on a mainland stage,  Cheung became a household name in China in 1984 after his CCTV appearance. He has since been invited to perform in both official and commercial venues in the mainland over the years, including at the 2012 CCTV New Year Gala.

Yet, Cheung, now a Hong Kong delegate to Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and deputy chair of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers' and Exporters' Association, appears to have switched to a business career in recent years and taken a break from his entertainment gigs.

The news of Cheung's "comeback" was met with indifference in Hong Kong and much ridicule in the mainland on Friday.

"I am not going to be interested in his music just because he's going to perform on CCTV," said Irene Leung, a Hong Kong professional in her 20s.

Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Hong Kong’s Chinese University, said Chueng's performance in Beijing mean little to Hongkongers, especially the younger generation.

"Even people of my generation hardly give a damn," he said.

On Weibo, China's net users meted out sarcastic responses to the news. While some said their parents truly liked Cheung's 1984 song, many said they were disappointed by his apparent attempt to suck-up to the ruling party.

"If you really care about your country, come back and breathe in some PM 2.5 particles," a blogger wrote, referring to the notorious pollution current in many Chinese cities.

"Has he joined the Communist Party now?," asked another microblogger.

Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and an active microblogger, said the title "Chinese Dream" carries a much stronger ideological implication than "Chinese Heart", despite their superficial similarities.

Yet Zhan said, despite the shows and campaigns, he suspected that "ideology" would play a much less significant role in China in the coming years. 

"Actions matter more than words when judging China's leaders", he said.

Calls were made by the South China Morning Post to the Hong Kong Chinese Importers' and Exporters' Association on Friday, but Cheung could not be reached for a comment.

Meanwhile, uncertainty and conflicting reports cloud over the much-anticipated performance by veteran rocker Cui Jian, popularly known as "Godfather of Chinese Rock," who had also been invited to perform at CCTV's New Year gala.

Cui, 52, who shot to fame in mainland China in the mid 1980s with his iconic Nothing to My Name, was banned from performing at large venues in the 1990s after the song became the anthem of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests. Yet he has managed to stay in the spotlight as director and musician.

Cui might have decided against going, which would be his most high-profile performance in years, because he could not accept CCTV's censorship over his choice of song, the Chinese website of the New York Times  reported on Thursday. However, Chinese media, including news portal Sina, said on Friday Cui was still going, and he had decided to forego his original choice, Nothing to My Name, for a less-sensitive number. 


Cheung Ming Man confirmed with the South China Morning Post on Saturday that he would perform "My Chinese Heart" on CCTV's 2014 New Year gala.

"As a Hongkonger, I feel proud to be part of this celebration," Cheung said,"I also think it's my responsibility [to perform] ."  

Read more China Insider stories by Amy Li or follow her on Twitter