Chinese Pianist Lang Lang Named NYC's First 'Cultural Tourism Ambassador'

Lang Lang
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Ride of Fame

Pianist Lang Lang performs for fans during his 'Ride Of Fame' Induction Ceremony on Sept. 20, 2016 in New York City.

Chinese superstar pianist Lang Lang has been named the Big Apple's first-ever "cultural tourism ambassador," just in time for the release of his latest album, the aptly titled New York Rhapsody. Lang's new role -- to help attract Chinese tourists to NYC -- was announced outside Steinway Hall in Manhattan on Tuesday (Sept. 20) by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also declared it Lang Lang Day. 

Lang has maintained a residence in NYC for the last ten years and said at the ceremony that he hopes to bring his countrymen from China and others from around the world to the city, "to have fun here, to enjoy music, to enjoy the best classical music, the best cultural event, best sports, the best food!"

According to figures from tourism agency NYC & Company, China is poised to overtake Brazil as the second-largest source of foreign visitors to the city, estimated at around 920,00 this year, up from 850,000 in 2015. Only Britain attracts more tourists to America's largest city. Given that Chinese tourism is actually booming, part of NYC's Lang Lang strategy is to remind tourists that there's more to the city than must-sees like Times Square and the Statue of Liberty.

On NYC & Company's website, Lang lists places like Carnegie Hall, Flushing (with its wealth of authentic Chinese food), the Steinway Piano Factory in Queens and the DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn as some of his favorite things about the city. "It's an awesome neighborhood for dating, because there are so many restaurants and coffee shops," he says of DUMBO.

Meanwhile in China...

While Lang Lang begins his tenure as a cultural "ambassador" in NYC, back in China censors have reportedly begun targeting another pop superstar for her political leanings. According to Quartz, Hong Kong-based Cantopop singer Denise Ho has seen her entire recording catalog wiped from popular digital services like Tencent's QQ Music and Kugou.

Ho, also known as HOCC, is well known in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, having appeared at various rallies and writing music during 2014’s Umbrella Revolution in the former Great Britain colony, which was returned to China in 1997.

Now following months of negative press in Chinese state media, censors have apparently stripped her songs from streaming services. The impact on her income will likely be felt, especially if a ban of sorts extends to touring. According to the New York Times, in the past 80 percent of her earnings came from live performances on the mainland.

Listen to Ho's most played song on Spotify: