Popular Chinese talent show “Sing! China,” a rebranded version of “The Voice of China,” has been suspended following allegations of mistreatment made by the late pop star Coco Lee.
The suspension: On Friday morning, broadcaster Zhejiang Media Group announced the suspension and an investigation into the claims due to mounting public anger.
“In view of the issues raised by the viewers and netizens on ‘Sing! China’ which are being investigated, the broadcast of the show has been put on hold,” the broadcaster stated, according to The Strait Times.
Leaked recorded accusations: The controversy erupted when audio recordings surfaced online, purportedly featuring Lee claiming mistreatment by the show’s production team. In the nine-minute clip, Lee, who was a mentor on the show in 2022, can be heard accusing the show of unfairly eliminating her mentee who received a higher score than other contestants.
In another clip, Lee claims a director’s assistant grabbed her shirt and attempted to force her offstage for speaking up. The production team also allegedly caused her to fall on stage during her final filming in October last year while she was suffering from a leg injury.
Public backlash: The recordings caused a public uproar, becoming a major topic on China’s social media platform Weibo. The show, which denied the authenticity of the “malicious” recordings and cited prior “misunderstandings” that were resolved, failed to quell the backlash. Former contestants and public figures voiced support for Lee as video clips of her confrontations with the production team circulated online, fueling more public anger.
Significant decrease in market value: Lee’s fans and viewers of the singing competition called for a boycott, leading to a significant drop in the production company’s market value. The show’s producer, Star CM Holdings, saw its share price result in a loss of around $3 billion in value, according to CNN. The boycott extended to the show’s sponsors, with netizens urging them to withdraw their investments.
About Lee: Lee, who was a prominent Chinese American singer and actress in Asia, became the first Chinese singer to be signed by Sony Music globally and the first Chinese American to perform at the Oscars, where she sang “A Love Before Time” from Ang Lee’s 2000 film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
She died by suicide in July at the age of 48 after battling depression. According to Lee’s sisters, this year marks the 30th anniversary of her singing career.