China's history with the Eurovision Song Contest
by Laura S @laurovision
Today marks the celebration of the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. As the name suggests, this day commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Tiananmen Square in 1949, making 2019 the 70th anniversary of this momentous occasion. Concerts and festivals are usually held around the nation on this day, with a grand military parade to be held on this milestone year.
And what bigger concert and festival is there than Eurovision! Today we will be reviewing China’s history at the Eurovision Song Contest, exploring the highs and lows of their involvement with one of the world’s biggest song competitions.
The Eurovision Song Contest was first broadcast in China in October 2013 on the music channel CCTV-15, with both semi-finals and the final of the 2013 contest being televised. In 2014, the interval act ‘Twelve Point Song’ gave a nod to the Chinese viewers, where the song gradually inserted more and more references to China as it progressed.
In 2015, Eurovision was broadcast live for the first time in China on Mango TV, Hunan TV’s internet platform, to expand the show’s popularity with the general Chinese public. There was even talk of China becoming a special guest for the 2016 Contest in a similar fashion to Australia’s 2014 interval act appearance, but the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) denied China’s involvement in the contest as a guest or full participant in 2016.
Censorship, Controversy and Cancellation
During Mango TV’s live broadcast of Eurovision’s first Semi Final in 2018, several parts of the broadcast were either censored or cut entirely. Notable examples include a rainbow flag being blurred during the Swiss performance, as well as Albania’s performance being edited out of the show because of the performers’ tattoos, and Ireland’s performance also being cut due to the depiction of two men dancing together. The snippets of both the Albanian and Irish performances were also edited out of the performance recaps.
The EBU issued a statement saying that the cuts did not reflect their “values of universality and inclusivity and [their] proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music”.
“It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the second Semi-Final or the Grand Final.”
A spokesperson for Hunan TV said they “weren’t aware” of any edits made to the broadcast.
Despite the partnership termination between the EBU and Hunan Television leaving the Eurovision Song Contest without a Chinese home in 2019, China and its culture has certainly left an impression on Eurovision artists. In March 2019, Bulgaria’s 2017 representative Kristian Kostov recently released the EP ‘Prologue’ inspired by his time in China participating in Season 7 of the TV singing competition 歌手 (Singer) and touring in Beijing in 2019. This EP contains a beautiful version of his 2017 song ‘Beautiful Mess’ which was performed on the first episode of the season and features an erhu solo, lending a distinctly Chinese flavour to the moody pop ballad, as well as two songs where Kristian sings in Mandarin, and the track ‘Live It Up’, a collaboration with Chinese singer Tifa Chen. 非常好！
2015 runner-up Pollina Gagarina of Russia also participated in Singer in 2019, reaching the show’s final. Here you can see her with guest singer Daneliya Tuleshova, Kazakhstan’s Junior Eurovision 2018 contestant, singing a cover of the Michael Jackson hit ‘We Are The World’.
Despite cultural differences, there is one thing that those who have viewed the Eurovision Song Contest live in China and Australia can both agree on: we love waking up early to watch this amazing show!
Would you like to see China broadcast Eurovision again? Would you like to see them participate in Eurovision? What do you think? Let us know @aussievisionnet on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.