mixed race chinese idol contestant causes a stir

This is an interesting story on Lou Jing, a mixed-race Shanghainese woman who has been the focus of an intense public debate about what it means to be Chinese: Can a Mixed Race Contestant Become a Chinese Idol?

Born to a Chinese mother and an African American father whom she has never met, Lou skyrocketed to public consciousness last month when she took part in an American Idol-esque TV show, Go! Oriental Angel.

Typical of the genre, the show's producers quickly clung to Lou's story: a girl of mixed race brought by a single Chinese mother struggling to gain acceptance in a deeply conservative (and often racist) society.

Her appearance on the show not only boosted viewer numbers, but sparked an intense nationwide debate -- largely fueled by internet chat conversations -- about beauty, ethnicity, and the very notion of "Chinese" identity.

I think it's a fascinating look at a population that is slowly undergoing a demographic shift, and now forced to deal with a increasingly multi-ethnic, heterogenous society -- exposing a deep-running vein of xenophobia. Prompted by a reality show, of all things. This isn't the first of such conversations in China, and it's definitely not going to be the last.

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