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By Rohani Mohd Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 April (Bernama) — Malaysia’s singer Nurshahila Amir Amzah, better known by her stage name Shila Amzah in her homeland and as Xila among her fans in the Land of The Great Wall, believes that the entertainment industry holds considerable influence and plays a pivotal role in fostering Malaysia-China diplomatic relations, especially as the two countries mark their 50th anniversary this year.

Shila, 34, who is currently on maternity leave for her second child, responded to Bernama’s email inquiry, said that when Malaysian and Chinese artists collaborate or when entertainment product travels between the countries, it is akin to constructing a bridge between the two cultures.

“It is not just about movies and music. It is about connections and understanding.  It is about sharing stories, songs, and experiences that resonate with people in both countries. These connections help strengthen our diplomatic relations and bring our nations closer together,” said the first Malay artist to take the Chinese-speaking pop world by storm through her Australia-based global talent management, Greyscale Pty Ltd.

 Shila who has 2.4 million followers on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, said when Malaysian movies or Chinese dramas gain popularity across borders, it is like a shared celebration that deepens Malaysia and China’s bond even more. 

Shila first gained attention in China when she won a Chinese reality singing talent show,  the Asian Wave competition in Shanghai in 2012, where she showcased her vocal talents singing in Mandarin. 

The Malaysian hijabista subsequently participated in one of China’s most popular programs, “I Am A Singer Season 2,” in 2014. This show commands a staggering 500 million viewers per week.

She emerged as the number two choice of professional judges and the number three choice of the audience.

Reflecting on her journey and rise to superstardom in China, Shila said that it was quite unexpected and even surprising, even for herself. 

“Winning the championship in the Chinese singing competition Asian Waves in 2012 as the first non-Chinese contestant to achieve the feat, marked the beginning of my journey in China. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity as it opened doors for me in the country’s entertainment industry,” she added.

 According to Shila the decision to pursue her career in China was influenced by the abundant opportunities available in the country, especially in the entertainment sector. 

“China hosted numerous competitions that welcomed non-Chinese singers to display their talents. Winning the 2012 Star Waves competition significantly amplified my popularity in China, granting me access to various platforms to showcase my vocal abilities. Music has always been my passion, and this victory provided me with remarkable opportunities to pursue it further,” she said. 

Besides China, the singer-songwriter, actress, and record producer also rose to fame in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Shila’s rising popularity in China led to her appointment as Tourism Ambassador by Tourism Malaysia in 2016. This role aimed to bolster Malaysia’s tourism brand in China and reinforce the tourism and cultural ties between the two nations. 

Asked about her thoughts as a public figure on the current Malaysia-China relations, Shila believes Malaysia-China relations are super important for both countries based on a strong history of working together on trade, investments, and cultural exchanges. 

“Looking ahead, there are plenty of opportunities to make the Malaysia-China relationship even stronger.  Both countries have all the opportunities to collaborate more, whether in business, technology, tourism, making a movie, producing a song or just getting to know each other better. By doing that, we can keep growing together,” she said.

On roles celebrities and influencers like herself can play in promoting mutual understanding and cooperation between Malaysia and China, Shila said celebrities and influencers can do a lot to bring Malaysia and China closer together. 

“We can use our platforms to share positive stories and experiences from both countries. Whether it is through social media, collaborations, or supporting cultural exchanges, we can help promote understanding and cooperation between Malaysia and China. 

“It is all about using our influence for good and bringing people together, and of course singing the songs in the different languages would be my forte,” she said.

When asked about the people-to-people relations between Malaysia and China and what Chinese nationals find attractive about Malaysia, Malaysians, and Malaysian music, Shila mentioned that the Chinese often find all three aspects appealing.

“First, we, the Malaysians are known for our friendliness and hospitality, which totally vibes with Chinese visitors. We are all about making people feel welcome and at home. Additionally, Malaysia’s rich history, culture, religion, food and festivals make it a unique and intriguing destination for Chinese travellers.

“Our music scene is incredibly diverse, blending traditional sounds with modern beats, reflecting the cultural diversity of Malaysia. Many Malaysian Chinese singers have gained popularity in China, with their music resonating well with Chinese vibes while still carrying a distinctive Malaysian flavour,” she said.

According to Shila, the Chinese are eager to learn more about Malaysia and its cultural offerings. Ultimately, we are all about fostering strong connections and spreading love across borders!, she said. 


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