The singing competition, which was organized by China Radio International along with two Nepali event management companies—JG Production and Ray Media Group was open for Nepalese singing in Mandarin. China Radio International is the state-owned international broadcaster based in Beijing. The organizers had expected a middling number of participants but the interest far exceeded their expectations.
They expected 50 participants to compete but 300 people showed up which was a surprising thing for all the organizers. Mr. Jibesh Gurung, Managing director of JG Production said that competition was a pilot project by China Radio aimed at bringing Nepalese and Chinese closer to each other. The winners were awarded Rs.200,000, Rs.100,000 and Rs.50,000 for first, second and third place, respectively.
Dorjee Sherpa was pursuing his hotel management internship in 2016 in the Chinese city of Sanya on the country’s southern coast and he picked up a few melodies he heard playing around him. When he returned to Nepal in 2017, some of it stayed with him. Sherpa had never thought that those Chinese songs would come in handy; that is, until last week when Sherpa won the Chinese Singing Competition held in Kathmandu. Sherpa cannot speak Mandarin or any other Chinese language. He just remembered the words and melodies from his time in Sanya.
Sherpa wasn’t the only participant in the singing competition who didn’t know any Mandarin. Pemba Sherpa and Nima Yangchen, who took second and third place respectively, can’t speak Mandarin either. Pemba, Dorjee, and Nima all admitted that they were able to sing the songs by memorizing the lyrics and melodies. To make it easier for non-Chinese speaking contestants, the organizers even allowed them to look at the lyrics while singing.
Mr. Gurung said- “The competition wasn’t about their fluency in the language. It was just about singing in a foreign language, which in this case is Chinese.”
Even though a singing competition like this is the first of its kind, Chinese influence in Nepal is growing. The Chinese are investing in everything from hotels and restaurants to roads and hydropower projects. More and more Chinese tourists are visiting Nepal and more Nepalese are going to China to study or work.
This increased exchange has brought with it Chinese culture music, dance, films, art, literature, and language aided by the Confucius Institute and the growing number of Chinese language institutes across the country. This is making the relationship between China and Nepal even stronger.