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TRENDING STORIES

Heather Mowbray / Jan 20, 2021 06:16 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Prada brand ambassador and popular actress Zheng Shuang was embroiled in a scandal on Monday, as word reached Weibo that she had two children by surrogates in the U.S., abandoning them before they born when her relationship broke down.

The story attracted billions of views on Weibo as social media users examined pictures that appeared to be of the children’s birth certificates. The trending story also delved into the actress’s relationship with her ex-husband who appeared to take responsibility for the children while the actress sued him over a loan dispute in Shanghai. The breaking scandal was further complicated by the fact that only last week Zheng had signed a new contract with Prada for a Lunar New Year campaign.

What’s the story?

A recording of an audio tape circulated online of Zheng Huang’s former husband discussing with his parents what to do with the soon-to-be-born boy and girl. Revelations from Zheng’s private life saw Prada’s stock price drop 5% before rebounding, as Chinese social media debated the legal and ethical implications of having children by surrogates overseas.

Surrogacy is not permitted in China, despite an injunction having not been written into law. India and Thailand banned the practice in 2015 which effectively left certain states in the U.S. an option for Chinese people willing to pay another individual to carry their child.

Zheng Shuang responded to the revelations with a Weibo post in which she said, “This is a very sad and private matter for me which I did not want revealed in public…I have not violated the rules in China, and have respected the law abroad.”

What are people saying online?

Many people mocked the actress for the tone of her apology, paraphrased as “I have not broken the law in the US, or in China. But these revelations have infringed on my privacy, so I’m the victim.” Considerable support was given to the belief that she should leave entertainment, as her actions were viewed with widespread disapproval. “Such disregard for human life!” was one popular comment. Others addressed her business interests. “I suspect hype. Prada’s share price is already back up again, so influencers are not that influential after all.” Others wondered if anyone outside China was watching, as countless Chinese internet users remained glued to their devices.

Related: Pandemic Brings Chinese Luxury Shoppers Back Home

Global Businesses Start to Shun Japan Over Growing Outbreak

 


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Heather Mowbray / Jan 18, 2021 06:08 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The film “76 Days” has been listed as a serious contender for Best Documentary in the 93rd Academy Awards according to Variety magazine. Variety’s vote of approval for the factual feature has lead 50 million social media users in China to post comments on Weibo below the popular hashtag #76 Days.

The heart wrenching account of the daily lives of patients and medical staff in Wuhan last February was filmed at close quarters and directed by Chinese American director Wu Hao, although it was produced in the U.S. It is expected to be formally nominated for an Oscar later this year.

What’s the story?

The documentary was released online in the U.S. in December 2020 and is set to enter cinemas in Singapore on 23 Jan this year, the anniversary of the start of Wuhan’s lockdown which was imposed just two days before the Lunar New Year to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The documentary made its world debut at last October’s Toronto International Film Festival, and more festivals have embraced its depiction of the monumental period at the start of what was to become the global Covid-19 pandemic. “Obviously right now most Chinese feel proud the country has been able to control it. But it is a trauma,” said director Wu Hao, who used footage from inside hospitals in Wuhan to tell the story of the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Meanwhile, “Days and Nights in Wuhan”, which is set for release in Chinese mainland cinemas on 22 Jan., will be shown for free in cities across China over the Lunar New Year holiday. As with 76 Days, the movie focuses on touching human interest stories of life and death during the Wuhan lockdown, and according to the Zhejiang Daily, avoids narration so that viewers can relive the lockdown without intermediaries.

Director Xu Zheng hopes for a U.S. general release for his movie. “They [viewers in the U.S.] can see how strong-willed Chinese people are and how they respect life,” he said in a video uploaded on Weibo.

What are people saying online?

The most popular comment about “76 Days” on Weibo was a plea to wait for a general release date, and not watch copies in the meantime. “They risked their lives to produce this documentary, which was not easy.”

Those who had seen the trailer have said how moved they were by the stories featured in it. “There is no need for awards,” said one, “as this has to be the best movie in the hearts of every Chinese person.”

Many were struck by the documentary having been produced overseas. “How can it satisfy the West if it isn’t entirely critical?” wrote one viewer. “After watching a Chinese movie with English subtitles in Wuhan dialect, I can only say, “It’s pretty tough.”

The movie piqued people’s patriotism, with one popular comment reading, “As a Chinese person, I hope we can win an award, but on technique not just subject matter.”

Indeed, the subject matter remains extremely raw. In comments under the hashtag #Wuhan Days and Nights Made Me Cry#, one moviegoer said, “The trailer hadn’t even begun to roll and I was already in tears.”

Related: 

WHO Team Arrives in Wuhan, but Two Stay Behind After Testing Positive

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Heather Mowbray / Jan 15, 2021 05:49 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

In a speech on 12 Jan the head of iQiyi Sports, a major sports broadcaster in China, Yu Lingxiao, said that esports don’t count as sport in his eyes, even if they are going to feature in next year’s Asian Games.

What’s the story?

As competitive online gaming grows in popularity, the Chinese CEO of iQiyi Sports Yu Lingxiao which predominantly broadcasts “traditional” sports said: “the epidemic created a ‘vacuum’ in sports events in 2020…but despite being lucrative, e-sports should not pretend to be sports!” adding that sports are a positive activity, and [promote] a healthy lifestyle, according to online Chinese media channel PP TV Sports.

In response, Zhu Qinqin, secretary general of the Shanghai Esports Association, said that mental exercise was also exercise, and that the scope of sports was constantly expanding.

Esports are to be included in the lineup for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou for the first time. There remains controversy about competitive video gaming at the Olympics however, with the category failing to secure a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

What are people saying online?

Opinions are divided on Weibo, with some agreeing that esports are indeed a different “ball game” to physical sports, or at least in a different league.

Others point out that all sports have evolved from simpler forms, and there is no reason why the evolution of computer games is an exception. “I’m sorry, but all Olympic-level sports - football, basketball, table tennis - derived from some kind of game.”

Another netizen pointedly inquired if Yu’s role as CEO of a sports broadcaster had influenced his position, writing “What qualifications do you have to say such things [Mr. Yu]? You’d be over the moon if you’d been given broadcasting rights.”

Related: Tencent Pushes for Creation of $10 Billion Livestreaming Juggernaut 


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Heather Mowbray / Jan 14, 2021 06:54 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Following industry consultation, China’s 2021 Import and Export Tariff Code has come up with a new official English name for the country’s traditional liquor; “Chinese Baijiu.” The new name appears on export documentation as of 1 Jan. 2021 as China valiantly tries to persuade the rest of the world that China’s favorite spirit deserves its place amongst the world-famous alcoholic drinks, 16 thousand Weibo users have offered enthusiastic comments about the decision under the hashtag #Chinese-Baijiu-Gets-a-New-English-Name 中国白酒英文名改了#.

What’s the story?

The strong sorghum-based alcohol is not only an essential part of every Chinese banquet, but also an extremely valuable commodity on the Chinese stock market.

Despite its central importance to Chinese culture, until recently its English customs code read simply “Chinese distilled spirits.” Officially recognizing the drink as Chinese Baijiu, using the Chinese for “white alcohol” elevates it to the same level as Brandy, Whisky, Vodka, Rum and Gin.

Given its huge number of drinkers, almost exclusively in China, Baijiu sells more than all other global liquor types put together. China’s Baijiu Association hopes the new recognition will help brand the booze abroad, bringing in more international fans. The Association has also listed aroma categories in Chinese pinyin on customs lists to standardize descriptions of different Baijiu types.

What are people saying online?

The simplicity and China-centric nature of the name change appeals to Weibo users for a very practical reason: exams. Many of the top comments mentioned China’s word-heavy English college entrance exam. “Oh, I wish they’d changed it quicker, so I wouldn’t have had to learn how to write “Chinese distilled liquor” for my CET4 (College English Test 4) exam.”

There is plenty of praise for the change online as many feel it shows China’s growing confidence on the world scene. One comment read, “We really are getting stronger if we are getting naming rights now.”

But some thought the prefix “Chinese” showed where Baijiu actually stood. “Get rid of the Chinese, and just call it Baijiu, like all the other liquor types. Adding Chinese in front is so weak.”

Other netizens went wild with the idea that the Chinese Romanization system, pinyin, was going global, possibly also for exam-related reasons. “Let’s name our fruit and vegetables in pinyin from now on. No need to translate anything.” And one Weibo user wrote, “Soy milk. Is that going to be renamed Chinese Coffee?”

Related: China Stocks Slump Most in Three Weeks on Valuation Concerns

 


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Heather Mowbray / Jan 12, 2021 04:01 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Purcotton, a Chinese company owned by Winner Medical, was forced to apologize for causing offense after bringing out an ad that featured a man stalking a woman who responded by wiping off her makeup with a Purcotton product only to reveal she was in fact a man. Weibo is incensed on many counts, and hashtags discussing the ad and judging the company’s apology have been viewed over 360 million times.

What’s the story?

An advertisement for cotton makeup removal wipes has been pulled after complaints snowballed on Weibo about its poor taste in mocking a situation in which a woman was made to feel unsafe. The ad starts with a woman walking down as street followed by a man with a covered face. As the woman produces a Purcotton wipe and takes off her makeup, the man taps her on the shoulder. As she turns her head, the pursuer discovers that under the makeup she is actually a man, who exclaims, “What’s up?” while continuing to wipe his face with the advertised product.

The eleven-year old cosmetic company, with a strong online focus, has been seeking to expand its reach into the lucrative mothers and infants segment. The recent furor may set back these efforts as responses to the advertisement have included a call to boycott its products.

What are people saying online?

Thousands commented on the ad, appalled by the misjudged “humorous” take on a stalking situation, and gender bias that took a swipe at both the male and the female actors, making fun of people on the basis of not just gender but also looks. One Weibo user went as far as saying the ad supported victim-blaming after rape in a strongly-endorsed comment.

After Purcotton’s initial apology on Friday was deemed “eighty percent self-promotion” with readers saying, “Only the headline is apologetic. The rest is straight up advertising,” the company apologized again on its Weibo account on Monday, announcing an investigation into how the ad came about, and promising to improve its content production process.

Related: Carlyle Group to Invest More in China’s New Economy Sectors

 


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Han Xu / Jan 08, 2021 02:51 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

On Jan. 6, a video showing an elderly person in Fushun, Liaoning Province, being kicked off a bus because he failed to show the driver a green Covid-19 health code, went viral on Chinese social media with related hashtags being viewed over 100 million times.

What’s the story?

According to Covid-19 prevention and control regulations in Liaoning, all residents should sign up for a digital health QR code which shows where they have been and their health status. If someone has travelled to a high-risk place or has had Covid-19 symptoms in the past 14 days, his or her code turns red. Under normal circumstances, the code is green. Only those with green codes can get into public places such as cinemas, malls, banks and buses.

Some people, especially the elderly, do not have access to smartphones which can generate the all-important QR code. In November, the State Council addressed this issue, saying government bodies should “combine traditional ways and intelligent innovation.” In last December, the Liaoning government required hospitals to enable people without smartphones to report travel histories and health conditions on paper.

But as shown in the bus video, despite the old man saying he had filled in a form to prove he was safe to travel, the driver kicked him off anyway for not being able to show a digital pass.

On Jan. 7, one day after the video was uploaded, the bus company said it would no longer require elderly passengers to show the health QR code.

What are people saying online?

Most online commenters found the driver and other passengers arrogant. “These people acted like they don’t have any elderly relatives. What if the old man didn’t have any kids to teach him to get a code on a smartphone? Be nice, people,” said one Weibo user.

But some also said that given the current increasingly severe virus outbreak in Northern China, the driver did what he had to do. One popular comment read, “Why everyone is ranting at the driver? The driver was only doing his job. Shouldn’t we be mad at those who make the imperfect regulations?”

Related: North China City Locked Down Amid Virus Flare-Up

 


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Han Xu / Jan 07, 2021 05:22 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Chinese actress and model Yang Ying, who more famously goes by the name Angelababy, has decided to set the record straight with regards to a decade-long rumor as to whether her relationship with her actor husband Huang Xiaoming started as an affair. Related hashtags have been viewed hundreds of millions of times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

Yang said on Weibo, “When I first met Huang Xiaoming, he told me that he was single. Until Li Feier (Huang’s former girlfriend) groundlessly named me in an interview with a magazine”. Li referred to Yang as “another woman from a previous relationship”.

The rumors over how Yang and Huang’s relationship first started in 2010, the year in which the two actors officially started dating and Huang broke up with Li. In 2011, Li suggested in an interview that in her previous relationship there was a “third person”, which was interpreted by some people as a veiled reference to Yang.

While the rumor has faded in recent years it resurfaced recently when both Li and Huang featured in the reality show Sisters Who Make Waves Season 2. Yang posted her statement about the affair in the afternoon of Jan. 6, with Huang also posting on Weibo, “Baby was not a mistress.” So far, Li has not made comment.

Yang and Huang are two of the most discussed celebrities in China. Their wedding in 2015 was described by some Chinese media as “the wedding of the century”, reportedly costing 200 million yuan (US$ 31 million).

What are people saying online?

Some people online have shown their support for Yang. “Everything will come to light. I believe time will give you an answer, Baby,” read one comment.

But some others also expressed their sympathy towards Li. One Weibo user said, “Li Feier, what a poor woman! She hasn’t been on any shows for so long, and finally her time has come and she gets bashed by the Yang couple.”


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Han Xu / Jan 07, 2021 02:41 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A courier company employee was dismissed after he refused a company order to work overtime until 9 p.m., three hours after he was supposed to clock off. The hashtag #fresh-graduate-dismissed-by-STO-Express-for-refusing-to-work-996# has been viewed over 200 million times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

The employee surnamed Jiang graduated from university in 2020 before taking a job with STO Express, one of China’s largest courier companies. Jiang said his former boss talked to him on Sep. 7, requiring him to work late every day despite his shift officially finishing at 6 p.m. In a leaked audio recording provided by Jiang, his former vice manager appeared to tell him that the company required overtime in employees’ best interests, and that young people like Jiang should not have romantic relationships because they would not end well.

Jiang thought the requirement to work overtime was unlawful and chose to leave at 6 p.m. the next day. On Sep. 9, Jiang was fired for having a “poor work attitude”. He then took STO Express to an arbitration committee which ruled that the termination was unjust. STO Express has filed an appeal.

Debate around long working hours has exploded on Chinese social media following the death of a young employee of Pinduoduo who is thought to have worked past midnight on several occasions.

What are people saying online?

Social media users overwhelmingly praised Jiang for his bravery in fighting against “injustice”. “All rights are gained by fighting. Labor relations exist in developed countries due to persistence,” read one popular comment.

Some also expressed how ridiculous they thought it was that a company should try to stop its employees from having romantic relationships outside of work. One Weibo user said, “It is none of anybody’s business whether I want to have a relationship at any age. STO Express is clearly breaking the law.”

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Pinduoduo Worker’s Death Renews Scrutiny of 996 Work Culture

 


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Han Xu / Jan 06, 2021 05:41 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

On Jan. 5, Shanghai became an experimental hub for the country’s e-RMB, making it the fifth city in China, after Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Xiong’an, to pilot the digital currency. The hashtag #Shanghai-trials-e-RMB# has been viewed over 150 million times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

Yu Yiming, a doctor working at a hospital in Shanghai, was the first person to use the Digital Currency Electronic Payment or e-RMB to buy a meal in the hospital canteen. Different from those in Shenzhen and Suzhou, the Shanghai e-RMB is not an app operated on the phone but a separate debit-card-like device. The card displays your transactions, balance and other information in the top right-hand corner. Officials said that the card design was an effective solution for people who wished to use the e-RMB but did not have access to a smartphone.

At the moment, the e-RMB in Shanghai is accepted only in a limited number of businesses but an increasing number of merchants are showing a willingness to participate in the trial. Dr. Yu’s hospital promised that it would expand usage of the e-RMB to parking and medical fees.

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, started to pilot the e-RMB last April. According to the central bank, the currency is pegged to China’s yuan, and one of its biggest advantages is that unlike

WeChat Pay and Alipay, transactions can be made offline.

What are people saying online?

Despite officials promoting the use of the e-RMB, enthusiasm is weak on social media. “Wow this so cool. I suggest a new name for it: a canteen card,” joked one Weibo user. Another popular comment read, “Basically I am using my debit card on another card.”

But others said they were all for the new payment method. “The e-RMB operates just like cash, meaning that merchants cannot refuse it. Plus, when you withdraw money from Alipay and WeChat Pay, they charge you a handling fee, but not when using e-RMB,” read one comment.

Related: China Starts Trial of Digital Currency in Four Cities

 


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Han Xu / Jan 05, 2021 03:23 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The sad story of the death of a 22-year-old Pinduoduo employee has honed online attention on “996” work culture in China, which entails people working from 9am to 9pm 6 days a week. Now, a screenshot from the Weibo account of Jia Guolong, CEO of Xibei Canyin (西贝餐饮), has got people talking about a different set of numbers, referring to “715” work culture. In the screenshot Jia wrote that people should work 15 hours 7 days a week, a sentiment that has since gone viral on Chinese social media.

What’s the story?

Jia proposed the 715 work schedule in response to people who asked for his opinion on 996 work culture. Jia said that working hard should be joyful and never sad or miserable, and that hard work was the route to success.

However, according to Chinese Labor Law, working hours should not exceed eight hours a day and an average week at work should not exceed forty-four hours. Additionally employers are meant to ensure employees have at least one day off each week.

Jia’s company, Xibei, later responded to online buzz by saying that that 715 system was not compulsory for staff but should be seen as a “description of voluntary work.” The CEO added that he would never do anything that broke the law.

Opening in Inner Mongolia in 1988, Xibei grew to become a major Chinese catering business. But in recent years, some of its restaurants have faced hygiene issues, and high prices have put customers off.

What are people saying online?

Jia’s opinion has infuriated most people on social media, with many doubting the legitimacy of working long hours. “On the face of it, it seems that they are promoting the idea of “Labor Glory” [people should want to and enjoy working long hours], but in fact, they are merely trying to exploit a loophole in the law to oppress the weak,” said one Weibo user.

Some people online were also worried that the “greedy capitalists”, who were supposed to disappear after the establishment of New China, were on the way back. One comment read, “For me, hard work means that we, the proletariat, unite and bring down these evil capitalists!”

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Pinduoduo Worker’s Death Renews Scrutiny of 996 Work Culture

 


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by Heather Mowbray / Jan 05, 2021 10:48 AM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The death last week of a Pinduoduo employee surnamed Zhang has reignited criticism of work culture in China, and in particular “996 culture” which derives its name from the idea employees have to work from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, 6 days a week. A hashtag about the incident has drawn more than 150 million views on Sina Weibo.

What’s the story?

The booming e-commerce company confirmed on Monday that an employee of its Urumqi grocery division fell and died hours after working past midnight on Dec. 29.

The 22 year old employee who had worked for Pinduoduo since July 2019 complained about working conditions in October 2020, writing on WeChat “we employees are at the mercy of capitalism.”

A source at Pinduoduo explained (link in Chinese) that in the far west of China, work starts and ends later due to China’s one official time zone, so finishing work after midnight is common.

Having received compensation from the company for the woman’s death, her family asked that the deceased not be used in any debate about working conditions.

Pinduoduo’s founder Colin Huang became China’s second-richest man in June last year. Pinduoduo’s grocery sales service, trialled in Nanchang and Wuhan in August, was later rolled out across the country, as the company’s stock rose 130% from a low point in July.

What are people saying online?

While questions swirl about the veracity of screenshots pointing the finger at Pinduoduo, many commenters see the incident as a broader symptom of work-life balance issues in China tech. “What is sadder than a society in which your work unit squeezes you for your value and then brainwashes you, saying, ‘If you don’t work overtime, you won’t be motivated,’” read one popular comment.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Trending in China: All Work and No Play – China Complains of Long Working Hours Culture


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By Han Xu / Jan 04, 2021 04:37 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The death of a young actress has raised awareness of cardiovascular disease among young people. Sun Qiaolu, 25, who played a leading role in a beloved Chinese kids television show called Balala the Fairies, died following a heart attack on the first day of 2021. The hashtag #Sun-Qiaolu-passes-away# has been viewed over 580 million times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

Sun was said to have attended a New Year’s Eve party in Hangzhou before the tragedy happened. In the afternoon of Jan. 1, screenshots of WeChat users saying Sun had died from over-drinking went viral on Weibo. The next day, Sun’s mother confirmed her death. She used Sun’s Weibo account to post a statement about her death, adding that she hoped people would stop speculating and spreading rumors about the cause. “Maybe the Fairy Castle (the fairies’ base in Sun’s show) was calling her so she had to leave,” said Sun’s mother.

Born in Shenzhen in 1995, Sun made her debut in the entertainment industry when she was only five. At the age of thirteen, she took on the role of Ling Meiqi, one of the leading characters in Balala the Fairies.

The franchise had six subsequent seasons and associated movies, but Sun’s fame faded after the first season in which she starred. She began her studies in the U.S. in 2014 but had to stop for mental health reasons, opening an online store on her return to China.

What are people saying online?

Sun’s death spurred online nostalgia among Chinese Generation Z Weibo users. One popular comment read, “When I was a child, I really enjoyed the show. She is part of my childhood memories.” Another user said, “She is in the Fairy Castle now. I hope she can be happy there.”

Her death also raised awareness of cardiovascular disease in young people with the hashtag #why-MI-starts-young# viewed over 830 million times after Sun’s mother confirmed her death cause. “Young people: please don’t stay up late and don’t go to the night clubs too much to drink,” said one Weibo user.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related stories: Trending in China: God Recalls His Hand – Tributes to Maradona from Chinese Social Media After His Death


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Han Xu / Jan 04, 2021 02:15 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A group of sanitation workers in Jiaozuo, Henan province, have not been paid for eight months, a local TV station reported.

What’s the story?

The sanitation workers, some of whom are paid as little as 650 yuan ($100) a month, have complained to their employer, Zhengjian Environmental Company (正建环保公司), after failing to receive their wages for eight months. The company responded saying it had financial difficulties.

A representative of the company said in a phone call to the local TV station that it needed government subsidies to function properly. The company claimed it has not received the funds owed and has effectively been left to find its own source of funding, paying between 20 to 30 million yuan in costs. The representative added that the company is still communicating with the authorities on the matter.

The local government said it was aware of the situation, and an employee of the government promised that part of the eight-month salaries owed to the workers would be paid by Jan. 15. According to the Henan government, in 2018 Jiaozuo workers earned a minimum of 1,900 yuan a month, triple the stated wage of the rubbish collectors.

What are people saying online?

Approaching Chinese New Year and with the weather getting colder, commenters on the internet expressed their concern towards the workers, with some questioning the local government. One popular comment read, “650 yuan per month? That is not even enough for a daily bowl of noodles. What do they mean when they say they cannot pay the full eight-month salaries?”

Others compared the workers’ salaries and purchasing power to the situation in other countries. “The daily minimum wage in America is already over 500 yuan. Prices for some items are even lower than in China,” said one Weibo user.

Related stories: Trending in China – Are China’s Blue Collar Wages Really Higher than Graduate Salaries

 


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Han Xu / Dec 31, 2020 03:58 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

14 years after a court ruled that famous writer and celebrity figure Guo Jingming had plagiarized the plot of the novel “Inside and Outside (圈里圈外)”, Guo finally apologized to author Zhuang Yu on Weibo on the last day of 2020. The hashtag #Guo-Jingming-apologizes-to-Zhuang-Yu# has been viewed over 370 million times.

What’s the story?

In 2006, Guo was found guilty of plagiarism by a Beijing court, which ordered him and the publisher of his “Never-Flowers in Never-Dream (梦里花落知多少)” to jointly compensate Zhuang 200,000 yuan ($30,655) for economic losses and 10,000 yuan for moral damage. Guo was also told to publicly apologize to Zhuang, which he never did until almost 15 years later, on Dec. 31, 2020.

Guo used to say he would compensate Zhuang financially but would never apologize. But earlier this month, he became the subject of controversy when he was boycotted by over a hundred film and TV professionals because of his plagiarism history.

In his apologetic Weibo post, Guo said he was “too arrogant and young” and didn’t dare face up to his mistakes earlier. He also said that he would give all his profits from the plagiarized book to Zhuang.

Zhuang responded on Weibo, saying she accepted Guo’s apology and would add her own money to Guo’s to establish an anti-plagiarism fund. Guo agreed to the arrangement on Weibo.

What are people saying online?

Some people on the internet found Guo disingenuous because of the timing of his apology. A movie directed by Guo is currently showing in Chinese cinemas. They said Guo chose to apologize now to make people watch his movie. “All this is movie marketing. Where was he earlier? He is trying to keep himself relevant, an ugly way of thinking,” read one popular Weibo comment.

Others praised Zhuang for her handling of the apology. One Weibo user said, “Go get him, girl! Make the plagiarizer participate in the anti-plagiarism movement.” Another social media user commented, “I feel so embarrassed for Guo.”


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Han Xu / Dec 30, 2020 06:35 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Jiang Fan, vice president of Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall e-commerce sites, was nominated by the Hangzhou government as a “high-level” talent on Dec. 23. Online commenters took issue with this, referring to an extramarital affair that saw Jiang receive widespread attention earlier in the year. The hashtag #Jiang-Fan’s-nomination-for-Hangzhou-high-level-talent-suspended# has been viewed over 260 million times.

What’s the story?

Born in Xinjiang, Jiang began working for Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant based in Hangzhou, in 2013. According to the Hangzhou government, key personnel of China’s top 500 companies may be nominated for category C “high-level” talent status, and receive benefits including property purchase priority and cash subsidies upon verification. Jiang’s nomination, posted on the municipal government’s website, drew fury from netizens who decried his moral standing following a well-publicized affair with an internet celebrity reported in April. On Dec. 29, Hangzhou officials said Jiang’s nomination was suspended.

In April, Jiang’s wife accused Zhang Dayi, an online celebrity and Taobao merchant, of having an affair with her husband. Alibaba Group dropped Jiang from his role as an Alibaba partner and demoted him from senior vice president to vice president, allowing him to continue to work for Taobao and Tmall.

What are people saying online?

Most people on Weibo were glad the Hangzhou government had taken action. “Disgusting! He has no conscience or morals. What is the point of having talent?” read one Weibo comment.

But others said the whole thing was a farce. “I cannot believe the officials did not know what Jiang has done before they nominated him as a talent.” Another popular comment read, “the nomination process was only suspended, not canceled.”

Related stories

Opinion – Alibaba Clips High Flyer’s Wings But Is It For Real?

 


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Han Xu / Dec 30, 2020 04:38 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A new Ministry of Education regulation specifies forms of punishment for education-related misdeeds, marking the first time for such regulation. The new policy, which will allow teachers to impose such punishments as forcing students to copy text and stand in the classroom, will come into effect on March 1. The hashtag #educational-punishment-can-be-implemented-when-necessary# has been viewed over 140 million times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

The new regulation states that “Schools and teachers should use appropriate and specified methods to discipline students who misbehave.”

It categorized three levels of punishment depending on the violation, ranging from verbal warnings to suspensions. The regulation also prohibits educators from using physical violence and verbal insults.

In China, it is common for teachers and schools to punish students when they make mistakes. But improper punishment has also led to tragedy in the past. In September, an elementary school pupil from Sichuan died after her teacher physically “punished” her by hitting her head and forcing her to kneel. The news caused an earthquake on Chinese social media as netizens argued about the legitimacy of teachers punishing students. Related hashtags were viewed more than 480 million times.

What are people saying online?

Some Chinese social media users are all for such discipline and its regulation. “There are some kids who won’t learn discipline with words alone. Punishment is a must,” read one popular comment.

Others said education should be punishment-free. One Weibo user said that “You couldn’t teach students how to behave so you use the power that the kids don’t have to regulate them? The only thing you will get from this kind of education is a kid who doesn’t dare to challenge the authority and who hates the educational system.”

People on the internet also found it difficult and subjective to define “necessary or not.” A Weibo user commented that “teachers are not saints; they make mistakes too. What if they punish the kids wrongly?”


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Han Xu / Dec 28, 2020 06:03 PM / Trending Stories

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Sexism in comedy is again hot on Chinese social media as two comedians clash after one delivered a sketch poking fun at men. The hashtag #Chizi-Yang-Is-Not-Performing-Comedy# has been viewed over 130 million times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

Yang Li, a rising female comedian who famously said “Why are some men so ordinary, yet so blindly confident?” performed a monologue on Chinese men in a comedy show on Dec. 25. She joked that men were shameless and that she would feel happier and calmer if there were no men in her life. Soon afterwards, Chizi, a male comedian known for his vulgar jokes about women, posted on Weibo that what Yang was performing was not comedy.

Their verbal joust came just a week after comedian Guo Degang, a performer famous for the form called xiangsheng, also known as crosstalk, made headlines for not recruiting female apprentices.

What are people saying online?

Chizi’s Weibo post resonated with many Chinese men on social media as they expressed how offended they felt by Yang’s jokes. One Weibo user said that “Yang Li was merely stirring up the pot between men and women. It won’t solve any social issues.”

Others praised Yang as a feminist pioneer, adding that her jokes were mild when compared to her western counterparts. “I think there should and will be more and more Yang Li’s in the future. If some Chinese men found this offensive already, they’d better learn how to cope with it because there will be more of this kind of jokes,” read one popular comment on Weibo.


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Han Xu / Dec 28, 2020 03:15 PM / Trending Stories

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The Beijing government will offer cash bonuses of up to 400 yuan ($61) to domestic workers who remain in the Chinese capital over the Lunar New Year holiday in February.

What’s the story?

According to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce, the cash won’t directly be paid to workers, but will be channeled through government-registered home support agencies. Live-in domestic support staff who work for more than 18 days during the 22 days from Feb. 4 to Feb. 26 will be able to claim the full 400 yuan. Hourly staff may claim no more than 25 yuan per day, with a maximum reward of 400 yuan in total per person.

Many domestic workers are migrants to the capital and return to their hometowns for traditional family reunions during the Lunar New Year holiday.

A report from the Ministry of Commerce of China showed that in 2017, there was a shortage of 200,000 to 300,000 domestic workers in Beijing. According to 58.com, one of the biggest job search websites in China, the demand for domestic services in the country’s largest cities has increased steadily year on year. However, domestic workers in Beijing earned less than their peers in other first-tier cities — Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai — netting an average of 5,500 yuan a month compared with paychecks of about 9,000 yuan in Shenzhen.

What are people saying online?

Some commenters online believed the government was being too tightfisted. “400 yuan? That’s not even enough for one high-speed train ticket,” read one popular comment. Another user on Weibo said that “400 isn’t enough incentive for people to stay in Beijing.”

But some also said that the government had done enough. One comment read that “the 400 yuan was merely from the government. The hirers would normally pay twice as much as usual. It’s enough.”


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By Han Xu / Dec 25, 2020 12:54 PM / Trending Stories

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News that a 9-year-old boy saved his family and neighbors from a fire in their apartment building has gone viral on Chinese social media. The hashtag #9-year-old-boy-saved-lives-from-fire-in-a-textbook-way# has been viewed over 10 million times.

What’s the story?

Late on Dec. 18, a 9-year-old Shanghai boy was awakened by a chocking smell in his room. He went to the living room to discover a fire with flames reaching the ceiling. He then rushed to wake his father and grandfather who immediately realized they needed to leave their apartment. While running to leave the building, the boy knocked on every neighbor’s door to raise the alarm. After they got downstairs safely, the boy stopped a passing car to call the fire department.

A top teacher at the boy’s school later said that every pupil had previously attended a public safety class at the beginning of the semester. She said the boy was quiet and commended the way he had maintained his calm during the fire, and said he should serve as a role model to other students.

What are people saying online?

Most people on Chinese social media praised the boy for his heroic behavior. Some credited his school’s safety education class. “Elementary schools and middle schools in Shanghai did really well in teaching the kids about how to handle the hazards,” read one comment.

Some people however said the incident raised broader concerns about safety in Chinese apartment buildings. One Weibo user said, “It’s time to popularize smoke detectors. Especially in cities with high population densities.”

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Han Xu / Dec 24, 2020 04:49 PM / Trending Stories

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The hosts of Happy Camp, one of the most well-known variety shows on Hunan TV, have reportedly taken high-value gifts from fans. The news has become a widely discussed topic on Chinese social media with related hashtags viewed over 100 million times on Weibo.

What’s the story?

Happy Camp has made many a headline, but this time, it’s not because of its content but due to the misbehavior of its well-liked hosts. Earlier this week, social media users accused the hosts of receiving gold bars, luxury items and top-of-the-line cameras as gifts from fans. After the gift list was made public, He Jiong, the main host of Happy Camp, apologized on his Weibo account, saying he was “embarrassed to refuse them.” He added that he would no longer be accepting gifts. Of the five-person host team, only He has publicly commented.

On Wednesday, Hunan TV, which broadcasts the show, stated that it would investigate the incident, and would punish any violations according to regulations. The TV channel also urged people not to spread unverified rumors online.

What are people saying online?

Some Chinese social media users have responded that, as a public institution, Hunan TV, like other Communist Party-affiliated organizations, should forbid staff from receiving gifts from the public. One comment read that “if He Jiong worked in the government system, he would have already been fired for taking those gifts.”

Fans expressed their belief in the hosts’ innocence, saying He had told his fans not to send gifts. “No matter how good you are, there is always someone trying to throw mud at you,” said one Weibo user.


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