Fans threaten to dump Chinese TV shares if idol Cyndi Wang is ousted from comeback show Sisters Who Make Waves

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A Taiwanese singer whose sudden rise to fame two decades ago and then abrupt disappearance from public life has experienced a resurgence in popularity in China this week after she appeared on a mainland TV reality show.

Cyndi Wang Xinling is participating as a contestant in season three of the popular girl group reality show Sisters Who Make Waves season three produced by television network Hunan TV.

The 39-year-old singer and actress from Taiwan was a household name in China in the early 2000s and was known as the “sweetheart Goddess” for her sweet-looking appearance and vibrant dancing style, usually while wearing a school uniform.

Cyndi topped the hit news list on both Weibo and video platform Douyin after she made her debut on the show last Friday (May 20).

The show features 30 female stars competing for five spots to be part of an all-female group, with fans able to vote online for their favourite contestants.

So revered is Cyndi among her mainland Chinese fans, mostly middle-aged men, that after she appeared on the programme many bought stocks in the TV station and immediately threatened to dump their shares if she is eliminated from the contest, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported.

Their slogan is: “If Wang Xinling is knocked out, I will sell the shares.”

Many Cyndi fans also bought into investment funds which own stock in the company, prompting money management platform Ant Fortune to warn earlier this week that the public should be cautious about buying Cyndi-related stocks.

Cyndi appeared on the show dressed in her trademark student uniform and performed her signature 2004 song Love You which was among the top-ranked music works in China when it was released.

Delighted fans said she danced as well as she had at the height of her fame and that her appearance seemed unchanged.

“Why is she still so sweet after so many years?” asked one Douyin user, with the comment receiving 700,000 likes.

“She looked like this when I was a little child. Now I am an adult, and she still looks the same,” another comment said, attracting 43,000 user interactions.

Even the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily joined the celebration of Cyndi’s comeback to mainstream media attention.

“Time appears not to have touched her. Her sweetness seems to declare that she is a person, not afraid of other people’s views and who insists on being herself, and can brave wind and waves,” the newspaper said in a Weibo post this week.

Online searches for old Cyndi cassettes and CDs have been 24 times higher compared to a week ago, the China News Service reported. Some CDs autographed by the star are being sold for more than 1,000 yuan (US$150), 10 times higher than the original sale price.

“If I can help the public recall happy memories, that would be a good thing,” Cyndi said on Weibo earlier this week. “I will continue to work with you to create more memories and I also hope to have you with me through various musical journeys.”

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However, not all reactions to Cyndi’s return were as overwhelmingly positive as those of her fans. In an interview with news website cqcb.com, music critic Lu Shiwei said Wang’s most famous song Love You is actually quite ordinary and of average musical quality.

“But this is not a big issue,” he said, saying that Cyndi’s fame was never really about musical talent as much as it was about her star appeal to the public.

“What the public cares about is that she kept us company when we were young,” he said. “Our youth is gone, but when we happen to encounter retrospective things like Cyndi’s music, we care about the nostalgia it evokes in us, rather than the technical aspects of her work such as whether the songs are good or not.”

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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