BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese viral hit Little Apple is a nationwide phenomenon, so questions are being raised about the American Music Award it received after it emerged the Chopsticks Brothers' performance never made it to air.
The song by Xiao Yang and Wang Taili has spawned a myriad copies, including police information videos, with the original and its parodies racking up hundreds of millions of views online.
On Sunday it was given the International Song Award at the American Music Awards, with China's state-run media proclaiming that the pair - who are neither brothers nor composers - performed during the ceremony.
But Chinese fans were outraged when the duo admitted they had lip-synched their performance, and it emerged the song was recorded during a commercial break, without featuring in the actual programme.
The award itself was presented backstage, rather than on screen, prompting some to speculate that the pair had paid for their triangular glass trophies.
"Chopstick Brothers bought an award" started trending on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.
"I can't stand that the Chopsticks Brothers lip-synched at an overseas awards ceremony!" said one user on Thursday. "They've lost face for us abroad."
Mark Rafalowski, executive vice-president of Dick Clark Productions which produces the show, told China's official Xinhua news agency both prizes were "honorary" awards based on the artists' demonstrated levels of popularity.
The awards said in a statement it was the first year the International Song Award and the International Artist Award, won by another Chinese singer Zhang Jie, had been included in the line-up.