Officials replace the little-girl singer with a child "flawless in image"

By Stephen M. Silverman
August 12, 2008 02:00 PM
Zhou Liang/Xinhua/AP

Seeking someone “flawless in image,” Chinese officials used a lip-synching child to mouth the country’s anthem at the Olympic opening ceremonies instead of the real singer.

Speaking to local radio, Beijing-based musical director of the ceremony, Chen Qigang, revealed that Lin Miaoke, the 9-year-old girl in the red dress with the pigtails seen on TV singing “Hymn to the Motherland,” was, in fact, only a ghost voice.

The real voice, he said, belonged to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi. Though her voice was perfect, apparently her front teeth were not.

“The main consideration was the national interest. The child on the screen should be flawless in image, in her internal feelings and in her expression,” says Chen.

The musical director says it was a “last-minute decision, a choice we had to make” to swap out the singer.

“Our rehearsals had already been vetted several times – they were all very strict,” he says. “When we had the dress rehearsals, there were spectators from various divisions, including above all a member of the politburo who gave us his verdict: we had to make the swap.”

Despite her young age, Yang Peiyi is said to have been a good sport about the situation, reputedly declaring, “I am proud to have been chosen to sing at all.”