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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the Day: Jon Morter

December 21st, 2009
05:55 PM ET

So the predictable procession towards the coronation of the latest Simon Cowell product has been halted. And all thanks to a couple from the county of Essex in the southeast of England. [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/21/rage2.art.jpg caption ="Rage Against The Machine have triumphed over Simon Cowell thanks to a couple from Essex. "]

The talent show “The X Factor” has become a huge ratings hit on UK TV over the past five years and every winner has so far been guaranteed the number-one slot at Christmas on the back of the support the show receives.

But not this time. 35-year-old Jon Morter and his wife Tracey mobilized a campaign on the social networking Web site Facebook which successfully stopped this year's “X Factor” winner Joe McElderry winning the race to the coveted Christmas number-one in the singles chart.

Morter started his campaign to oust what he described as “Simon Cowell’s latest karaoke act” barely two weeks ago, but it clearly resonated with music fans around the world.

The choice of U.S. rock group Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name” was the antithesis of the carefully groomed, over-produced release of the “X Factor” winner.

“No one’s got a divine right to be Christmas number-one and I think we’ve proved that,” Morter told UK tabloid newspaper “The Sun.”

Despite losing out to Morter, Cowell was gracious in defeat congratulating the Essex couple for making it “a very exciting race.”

Morter, a part-time DJ, is a massive fan of Rage Against The Machine. He tried a similar "X Factor" spoiler stunt last year by trying to get Rick Astley to the Christmas top spot but ultimately lost out to 2008 “X Factor” winner Alexandra Burke.

Jon Morter is Monday’s Connector of the Day. Send your questions to him now and we’ll put a selection of the best to Cowell’s conqueror on tonight’s show.

Talent show contestant sparks Chinese race row

December 21st, 2009
01:52 PM ET

Just as one talent show debate comes to an end so another rumbles on in China. The themes couldn’t be further apart. [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/21/jing.art.jpg caption ="Lou Jing has focused the attentions of Chinese people on their attitudes to race. "]

While everyone in the UK has been consumed by the race to the Christmas number-one slot, the Chinese have been embroiled in a controversy over race itself.

Lou Jing, a contestant on an “American Idol”-style show, “Let’s Go! Oriental Angel”, has been subjected to a merry-go-round of opinion centered on the color of her skin – her father, whom she has never met, is of African-American descent.

Far from being judged for the quality of her voice, the 20-year-old had to contend with a barrage of criticism about her appearance posted on blogs and discussion forums. “Never should have been born” some posts suggested. Others told her to “get out of China.”

Understandably, she was extremely upset by the reaction her appearance on TV triggered.

“I am Chinese," Lou told AFP recently. "But when I read the comments, I started to question myself. I never questioned myself before. This time I started to think about how I am different from others.”

The outpouring of vitriol has sparked a heated debate in a nation where more than 90 percent of the population is of Han Chinese descent.

The girl affectionately referred to by the talent show’s presenters as the “chocolate girl” and the “black pearl” was eventually voted off before the finals.

But Lou refuses to be cowed by the criticisms of her race and hopes one day to become a diplomat, “to bring people together” she says.

With the Chinese economy increasingly reaching out to new markets all around the world including Africa, China is, perhaps, inviting a greater racial and cultural diversity than at any time in its history.

What are your thoughts on Chinese attitudes to race? Do the experiences of Lou Jing show that China is a racist nation? Or are the Chinese more tolerant of cultural diversity than this episode suggests? What have been your experiences of visiting China?

We would like to hear from you. Post your comments below.

Filed under:  General