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'Super Girl' Li Yuchun on hero list, sparks controversy
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Li Yuchun

Li Yuchun, winner of the televised "Super Girl" singing contest in 2005, is in the spotlight again for being short-listed as the hero of the reform and opening-up of China.

Li Yuchun, aged 24, is among the 100 finalists listed in the 'Hero of Chinese Reform and Opening Up" (1978-2008) poll, run by the Southern Metropolis Daily, according to sohu.com, a popular website.

Candidate must have made a great contribution to the country's political, economical, technological, cultural and social progress in the past 30 years (since reform and opening up began in 1978), or have become an icon by being the voice of a generation, said Lu Hui, who is in charge of the poll, which started ten days ago.

Judges and voters using text messages and online voting chose the 100 heroes for the list, and 30 of them will be picked as the most representative.

The judging panel has a 60 per cent say, while mobile phone text messages and online voting have 20 per cent respectively.

Other candidates on the list include movie director Zhang Yimou, sports star Yao Ming and Yuan Longping, "the Father of Hybrid Rice," among others.

But people's opinions are particularly divided on Li's being on the list.

Critics said Li is only a hero for entertainment, not for the country, while those who back her hold she changed the thought of a generation.

"Why not Li Yuchun?" Liu Yongtao questioned in his blog, adding it was unfair to single her out.

"What does Li Yuchun have to do with the reform and opening up?" another blogger Li Jiming said.

Hunan TV's "Super Girl" (which is like the "American Idol TV show), drew 400 million viewers for the finale of its four-month run in 2005 and helped contestants, including the winner, Li Yuchun, gain nationwide celebrity.

But "Super Girl" also drew official and public criticism for promoting "vulgarity" and discouraging youngsters from living life practically by providing instant celebrity.

Li Yuchun, appeared on the cover of Time Asia Magazine on Oct. 3, 2005, as one of the 25 Asian Heroes of the year.

(Xinhua New Agency September 26, 2008)

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