China celebrated its new year with a little help from American billionaire Warren Buffett. Buffett appeared on Chinese television playing a ukulele, singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad."
BEIJING – American billionaire Warren Buffett has staged yet another surprise performance, this time winning the hearts and minds of millions of Chinese with an American folk song. He sang and played ukulele for a hugely watched television program to celebrate the Year of the Dragon Monday.
"We know of Mr. Buffett's investing genius, but we did not know that he can sing as well," remarked one smiling local television host as she introduced the 45-second video clip of the 81-year-old philanthropist and chairman of investment giant Berkshire Hathaway. The video was posted on the web site of China's state-run television CCTV, which broadcasts a glitzy TV extravaganza annually on the eve of the Chinese New Year.
“I am Warren Buffett, and I'd like to wish all the people of China a Happy New Year in this Year of the Dragon. Your country has accomplished amazing things, and the best is yet to come," Buffett said before crooning the American classic “I've Been Working On The Railroad."
At the end, he raised his hand and said "Xiexie,” the Chinese word for “thank you.”
His greeting got a favorable response from many Chinese viewers online.
“Grandpa Buffett deserves respect, not because he is good at making money, but because of his selfless contributions and his charitable and kind-hearted activities,” said one commentator on Youku.com, a popular video site.
"A role model for all the rich people," remarked another.
"Grandpa Buffett is so cute, he is not just a god of wealth, but a sage who understands human nature and the way the world works," added another.
"We invited Warren Buffett to participate in the gala this year not because of the great business success he has achieved, but mainly because of his famous contribution to the public welfare," television producer Luo Yan told local media.
Buffett cuts a legendary figure in China. Chinese tycoons have paid up to $2 million dollars for the privilege of dining with the American financial guru in a charity auction.
Guo Guanchang, one of China's richest entrepreneurs and founder of Fosun, China's biggest private investment conglomerate, often extols Buffett's value investment philosophy.
Of course, Buffett is also a major investor in China. His company owns 10 percent of the Chinese battery and car maker BYD, with a quarter of a billion dollar investment that has doubled in value. He also invested about half a billion dollars in PetroChina, a gas and oil giant, that yielded over $3 billion in profits when he cashed out after five years.
NBC News' Gu Bo contributed to this report.