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Of crooners and economic miracles

China will issue stamps featuring a 22-year-old woman who has become an overnight singing sensation after winning a music contest that is being billed an "economic miracle" after it raked in some $95 million.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 20:34 IST

China will issue stamps featuring a 22-year-old woman who has become an overnight singing sensation after winning a music contest that is being billed an "economic miracle" after it raked in some $95 million.

The China National Philatelic Corporation (CNPC) says it will issue the stamps this week featuring Li Yuchun, who became a household name in 2005 after she won the "Super Girl" music talent hunt similar to the US show American Idol.

"Li is expected to become the first Chinese mainland pop star appearing on the country's publicly circulated stamps," the Chengdu Commercial Daily, a newspaper in the southwestern Sichuan province, quoted CNPC sources as saying.

"It can be called an 'economic miracle' as a single cultural event has created such a huge amount of money," an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Science said. "This has really gone beyond many people's expectations."

But the stamps are only a tiny part of the frenzy that has seen Li along with the second and third prize winners, Zhou Bichang and Zhang Liangying, being chased by advertisement companies, music producers and telecom operators.

Li, a native of Sichuan, had garnered 3.5 million votes from fans all over China to win the top award in the singing contest, which attracted an unprecedented number of TV viewers.

Since after the contest, Li, Zhou and Zhang Liangying have turned from ordinary girls to "rising entertainment stars" and are being wooed by mega companies.

Last week, the CASS, one of China's leading think tanks, issued a bluebook titled The Development Report on China's Cultural Industry: 2006.

It estimated that the 2005 Super Girl contest has raked in about 766 million yuan ($95.75 million).

If the revenues from the indirect use of the contest's influence, such as those from the issuance of the new stamps, are also counted, the business value of the singing gala could be as much as several billion yuan, the bluebook added.

When winners of the contest staged a concert in October in Shanghai, China's largest city, all 6,000 floor seats at the soccer stadium were sold out in 24 hours, beating the record of singing stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan who were performing in the same stadium before.

A TV play based on the girls' true story and named Super Girls began filming last year.

Souvenirs bearing the names and images of the Super Girls are also making good money, with a tea mug emblazoned with Li's image selling for 30 yuan ($4) each, nearly 10 times the price of an ordinary cup.

First Published: Jan 20, 2006 21:30 IST