It's a video that could easily top the dance charts: scantily-clad Asian girls and black/Latinas face off to a funky beat, and there's a bit of a hip hop rap and expert twerking long before Miley Cyrus knew how to work it.
The problem is, disillusioned members and critics of Singapore's City Harvest Church find it hard to believe that this kind of music was intended to evangelize the world with the Christian gospel.
The China Wine video is sung and starred by Sun Ho a.k.a. Geisha a.k.a. Ho Yeow Sun, co-pastor and wife of disgraced City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, who was recently charged guilty, together with four other City Harvest Church leaders and former member Chew Eng Han, for misappropriating S$24 million of church funds. The money went to support Ho's music career, the Straits Times reports.
During the trial, Kong stressed that the church had planned to use this music, prominently led by the single China Wine, to break into the secular market, and later use that as a means to evangelize in CHC "the Crossover Project." The plan severely backfired when the criminal probe was launched in 2010 and was concluded with a guilty verdict for all six of the accused last October 21.
Now as the convicts face jail time up to 20 years, CHC's faithful have decided to stand by their fallen leaders, saying that though they have broken the law, they had the interests of the church at heart. But not everyone is as magnanimous and forgiving.
A satire published in Singapore's New Nation made a tongue-in-cheek statement that summed up the public sentiment: "The past test audience found that China Wine was too deep and philosophical for mainstream taste, and it was hard to explain how a Chinese geisha doing black music was related to the message of the saviour."
One YouTube user, Charlie Lim, made this remark on the China Wine video page: "Six members from CHC will likely be heading into prison for this?? They could maybe form a "cell" group and sip on their Changi Wine while inside."
To date, the official release video's viewer stats has soared to 1,801,576 page views.
China Wine was produced In 2007, in collaboration with rapper and music producer Wyclef Jean, who had recommended that Ho does an Asian-Reggae fusion sound, similar to his work with Shakira. Ho and Kong had initially protested the style but were later persuaded that this was the way to break into the market.