"China Girl" is a song co-written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop during their years in Berlin, first appearing on Pop's album The Idiot (1977).

It became more widely known when it was rerecorded and released by Bowie on his album Let's Dance (1983). Paul Trynka, the author of David Bowie's biography, Starman, claims the song was inspired by Iggy Pop's infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen, a beautiful Vietnamese woman.[citation needed]

The UK single release reached No. 2 for one week on 14 June 1983, behind "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. The US release reached No. 10.


 [hide*1 Track listing (Bowie remake)

Track listing (Bowie remake)[edit]Edit

7": EMI America / EA 157 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "China Girl [Edit]" (Bowie, Pop) – 4:14
  2. "Shake It" (Bowie) – 3:49

12": EMI America 75038 / 12EA 157 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "China Girl" (Bowie, Pop) – 5:32
  2. "Shake It [Re-Mix]" (Bowie) – 5:21
  • On the US 12", "Shake It" is called the "Long Version," although it's identical to the UK's "Re-Mix"
  • The UK 12" single's cover was slightly different from the US cover (they're mirrors of each other), and the flip side of the UK 12" includes dates for the 1983 Serious Moonlight Tour in the UK (specifically the London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Milton Keynes shows).

Music video (Bowie remake)[edit]Edit

The music video, featuring New Zealand model Geeling Ng, was directed by David Mallet and shot mainly in the Chinatown district of Sydney, Australia. Along with his previous single's video for "Let's Dance", Bowie described the video as a "very simple, very direct" statement against racism[2] Although the video consciously parodies Asian female stereotypes, it was nevertheless criticised by Ellie Hisama for failing to give the female character a personality and voice.[3] The original video release includes the two lying naked in the surf (a visual reference to the filmFrom Here to Eternity), though versions of the video included on subsequent video and DVD compilations are slightly censored to remove the nudity. The original video went on to win an MTVvideo award for Best Male Video.[4]

Live performances[edit]Edit

The song was a regular for Bowie's live shows for the rest of the 1980s (appearing on concert videos in 1983 and 1988 as Serious Moonlight and Glass Spider, respectively). It was rehearsed for his appearance at the 1985 London Live Aid concert but along with the songs "Fascination" and "Five Years" was eventually dropped due to time constraints. Additional live versions of the song appear on 2009's release of a 1999 performance for VH1 Storytellers and a 2010 release of Bowie's 2003 concert, entitled A Reality Tour.

Chart performance (Bowie remake)[edit]Edit

Chart (1983) Peak


Australian Singles Chart 15
Austrian Singles Chart 2
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Dutch Singles Chart 5
Irish Singles Chart 2
German Singles Chart 6
Norwegian Singles Chart 7
Swedish Singles Chart 5
Swiss Singles Chart 1
U.K. Singles Chart 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 10
U.S. BillboardHot Dance Club Play

(charted together with "Shake It")

U.S. BillboardMainstream Rock Tracks 3

Production credits (Pop original)[edit]Edit


Production credits (Bowie remake)[edit]Edit



Other releases[edit]Edit

Cover versions[edit]Edit

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