The Melancholy Pop Idol Who Haunts China

In The News Piece in The New Yorker
Image by author
Aug. 3, 2015

Teng’s influence was particularly powerful in China, which her parents had fled after the revolution. As an index of personal desires and romantic possibilities, the Communist regimes would occasionally ban Teng’s music as decadent and pornographic. Her syrupy ballads came to represent a foil to Party chairmen like Deng Xiaoping, whose family name she shared. There was a popular saying that, by day, everyone listened to “old Deng” because they had to. At night, everyone listened to “little Teng” because they wanted to.