Buffett Sings for TV Gala as China Welcomes Year of Dragon

Billionaire Warren Buffett strummed the ukulele, singer Leehom Wang played a dragon-shaped guitar and Premier Wen Jiabao visited oil workers as China ushered in the Lunar New Year.

Buffett and Wang’s acts were part of China Central Television’s annual New Year’s gala, one of the world’s most- watched programs, that aired yesterday. Buffett sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in a video clip on CCTV’s website. American-born Wang’s guitar paid tribute to the Year of the Dragon, which began at midnight to thunderous ad hoc firework displays in Beijing that echoed off the high-rise buildings.

“I’ve been working on the railroad, all the livelong day,” Buffett, 81, sang in a raspy voice. “I’ve been working on the railroad, just to pass the time away.”

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China, with tens of millions of people crisscrossing the country in the world’s biggest annual human migration. The nation’s leaders by tradition visit workers and farmers during the holiday to share in the celebration. This year Wen visited oil workers in northwestern China’s Gansu Province. President Hu Jintao set off fireworks with farmers near the Great Wall of China and visited a shopping street just south of Tiananmen Square.

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO Warren Buffett. Close

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO Warren Buffett.

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Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO Warren Buffett.

Room-Sized Railroad

People in China will make a total of 3.16 billion passenger trips during the Lunar New Year holiday rush period, which began Jan. 8 and will end in the middle of February, a 9.1 percent increase from 2011, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. This year’s travel has been stymied by snow and freezing rain stretching across the country.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and an investor in Chinese carmaker BYD Co., was seen playing the American folk song in front of a room-sized model railroad. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire acquired the railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC in 2010. “Xie xie,” he said, using the Chinese word for “thank you,” after he finished strumming.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported on Jan. 5 that Buffett would sing in a video celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday.

Buffett and his friend Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corp., are well-known figures in China because of their business success. Berkshire Hathaway is part-owner of BYD, a Shenzhen- based company that makes the E6 electric vehicle, whose shares have risen 33 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Forsythe in Beijing at mforsythe@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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