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Still the 'King of Pop' in China

With his acquittal on all child molestation charges on Monday, Michael Jackson seemed to cement his role as the 'King of Pop' in China. But, Jackson can't count on the same reception from Germany where he wore out his welcome mat years ago. NBC News reports from Beijing to Berlin.
/ Source: NBC News

NBC correspondents report on reaction to the Michael Jackson acquittal:

June 14, 2005 |Beijing |

China cheers Jackson verdict
Michael Jackson can rest assured that in addition to his acquittal on child molestation charges in Santa Monica on Monday, he’ll always be known as the “King of Pop” in China.

The people of China woke up on Tuesday morning to learn that the beloved, yet embattled star, was found not guilty on all counts of child molestation and conspiracy to serve a minor alcohol.

In response to the verdict many Chinese people logged on to, a website in China that provides an outlet for students and professionals alike, to express their views on current issues and events, which is often difficult to do in a country that controls the media and censors the internet.

The website recently released a poll indicating that nearly 87 percent of Chinese people believed that Jackson was innocent and had been unfairly accused of sexual molestation.

“Jackson is a great person, go to hell Tom Sneddon,” wrote one anonymous website user. Another user wrote, “Black people are looked down upon in the U.S. and are unfairly treated.”

But, why were such a large percentage of Chinese confident that Jackson was innocence?  

Deng Ying, a Law Student at Peking University attributed it to Jackson’s humanitarian work. “Many people grew up with his music and consider him to be a great person who has a gentle and kind heart when it comes to helping children. He has also devoted much time and money to humanitarian efforts around the world.”

Xu Xiaodong, a Beijing Communications University College student noted the song “We are the World,” which Jackson and numerous other stars recorded in order to raise money for the famine relief effort in Ethiopia in the 1980s,  as an example of his benevolence.

Jackson’s tarnished image in the U.S., where a recent Gallup poll indicated that nearly 58 percent of Americans believed that the sexual allegations against Jackson were true, stands in direct contrast to the public opinion in China where he will always be the beloved “King of Pop.”

--Derek A. Levine in Beijing

June 14, 2005 |Berlin |

Germans not embracing beleaguered star
Reaction to Michael Jackson’s acquittal on child molestation charges in Germany was muted since the pop star had long worn out the welcome mat in this country after his baby dangling stunt in Berlin in 2002.

Experts from the German music industry believe that the zenith of Jackson's career was between 1992 and 1997, the year when the entertainer was able to sell out two consecutive concerts at Munich's Olympic Stadium.

"Jackson has only been recognized by the yellow press in the past decade," said Bernd Gockel from the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

Headlines like "The Jacko Freak Show" on Germany's FOCUS weekly magazine have been dominating the media landscape. Rarely have the reports been about his musical performances in the past years.

Most notably, Jackson's last public appearance in Germany in 2002, when he received a lifetime achievement award, ended in a scandal.

During a brief appearance at a window of Berlin's five-star Adlon Hotel, the superstar dangled his baby son from the railing of his fourth-floor suite.

The bizarre scene was shown repeatedly on television news programs in Germany and around the world.

"I made a terrible mistake. I got caught up in the excitement of the moment," Jackson later apologized, adding another episode to his controversial image.

His German label, SONY-BMG, has been reluctant to comment on his public trials.

"For political reasons we will not comment on anything related to Michael Jackson," said a spokeswoman for SONY-BMG when asked for the sales figures of Jackson CDs in the past decade.

"Jackson is not very popular in Germany anymore," said Dorothea Madry, a teacher visiting Berlin with her students on Monday. "And I don't think that he will regain his popularity now that he was proclaimed innocent.”

--Andy Eckardt in Berlin