Ask most people in China, and they'll say there'snobody better than Liu Xiao Ling Tong when it comesto playing the Monkey King or Sun Wokong.
"He is a senior actor. In my heart, the Monkey King played by him is irreplaceable."
"He is skilled and experienced when it comes to the performance. I really hope he can appearagain."
Liu Xiao Ling Tong is the stage name of Zhang Jinlai. He rose to fame after starring as SunWukong in the 1986 television adaptation of the classic Chinese tale "Journey to the West." Assuch, most fully expected Zhang would be involved in the forthcoming Spring Festival gala, asthis coming lunar year is the Year of the Monkey.
However, many have been taken aback by word he has been invited to the "opera show," acompanion event to the Spring Festival gala which has a much lower viewership. This has ledto speculation he will not be part of the Gala, which has spawned an avalanche of criticismagainst the decision-makers at CCTV. Many are suggesting they will boycott the show if Zhangfails to appear.More than a million people have called for Zhang's appearance on the Gala'sofficial Weibo account.
The program's director has been forced to shut down comments on his Weibo page afterreceiving more than 2 million similar requests. So far, CCTV has yet to respond to the situation.
However, the actor himself has responded. A humble Zhang Jinlai says the annual SpringFestival Gala is more than just one man.
"I've noticed that discussions over this have heated up on the internet. But from myperspective, there is nothing to regret, no matter whether I will perform in the show. Themost important thing is whether the audience will be entertained. It's really an honor for me andmy family to get praise for the monkey king roles we have played."