How one of the mainland’s most celebrated military folk singers is taking the South China Sea by storm

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 May, 2016, 9:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 May, 2016, 4:48pm

She’s sung with Celine Dion in one of China’s biggest shows and now has embarked a whirlwind tour like no other.

Chinese military folk singer Song Zuying who performed a duet with the Canadian diva during CCTV’s 2013 Spring Festival Gala, took to the stage at the weekend to entertain troops at Fiery Cross Reef, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

The reef is just one stop on a tour of islands in the disputed South China Sea that Song is making with a 50-strong troupe from the PLA Navy.

Song and the rest of the troupe were pictured performing on Saturday against a background of facilities on the artificial island and China’s second-biggest warship, the Kunlun Shan.

Airport runways, various illuminated multi-storey buildings and a naval landing platform dock, were visible.

WATCH: Song Zuying performs with the PLA Navy

The report did not say how long the Kunlun Shan had been deployed at Fiery Cross. Only the aircraft carrier the Liaoning is bigger than the Kunlun Shan in China’s military fleet.

Hundreds of military personnel and construction workers watched the show.

“I am very excited,” Xinhua quoted one soldier named Huang Tianqun as saying. “We will definitely hold our ground here firmly, to defend each and every inch of the reef of our motherland.”

Xinhua quoted Song as saying the two-and-half-hour performance was the first in a tour of the Spratlys, where China has been reclaiming land and building facilities on seven disputed reefs.

Tension over the contested islands has mounted, with the United States and its allies accusing China of “militarising” the region. The US has also sent warships to patrol the area and fighter jets to do flyovers.

Civilian and military aircraft have landed at Fiery Cross in recent months and China’s highest-ranking general Fan Changlong reportedly visited the reef in March.