"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.
The UK single release reached #2 for one week on June 14, 1983, being kept off the top position by "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. The US release reached #10.
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).
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 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. The original video release includes the two lying naked in the surf (a visual reference to the film From 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 MTV video award for Best Male Video.
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 LondonLive 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.