Weibo Night is an event that many netizens have been looking forward to for weeks. The night has been a recurring event since 2003, when the Sina media company first started the ceremony to look back on the hottest Weibo topics and celebrities of the previous year. The night was initially known as the ‘Sina Grand Ceremony’ (新浪网络盛典) until it turned into the ‘Weibo Night’ (微博之夜) in 2010.
During the ceremony of Weibo Night, that took place on the evening of January 16 (Beijing time) at the China National Convention Center, various prices were awarded in categories such as ‘The Hottest Weibo Person of the Year’, ‘Most Influential Weibo Musician of the Year’, ‘Weibo King & Queen’, ‘The Most Influential Companies’, or the ‘Biggest Topics of the Year.’
The award ceremony was broadcasted live on Weibo and received over 510,000 comments directly below the live broadcast on the Weibo Night account page. The hashtag ‘Weibo Night’ (#微博之夜#) was used over 28 million times.
The Biggest Events of the Year
While What’s on Weibo has compiled its own A-Z of the biggest trends on Weibo of 2016, the official Weibo Night jury picked some very different topics as the top events of the year – all of which focused on the Chinese nation.
The “retrial of Nie Shubin” (#聂树斌案再审#) was chosen as one of the biggest topics of the year. Nie was a young man who was executed in 1995 after being convicted for murder. After his family campaigned to prove his innocence for over two decades, the supreme court ruled in 2016 that there was “insufficient evidence” used in Nie’s trial, and his conviction was overturned. According to many Weibo commenters, the retrial proved that China’s legal system has made a lot of progress since the 1990s.
The topic “green channel for organ transportation” (#器官转运绿色通道#) also made it to the top events of the year according to the Weibo Night jury. The topic addresses the news that China established a “green organ channel” in 2016; a faster-prioritized transport system for human organs that will shorten the time it takes for organs to get to transplant patients, avoiding unnecessary health problems and delays. The topic made headlines in May of 2016, but actually only attracted a few thousand comments on Weibo.
According to the Weibo Night awards, the year’s biggest topic was “China Cannot Get Smaller” (#中国一点都不能少#), a slogan and image posted by state newspaper People’s Daily in July of 2016 around the time of the South China Sea trial that was brought to the tribunal in The Hague by the Philippines, which argued that Chinese activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea are illegal.
The tribunal ruled that China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea indeed violated international law. The verdict angered many netizens and triggered a wave of cyber-nationalism.
The topic and image emphasizes that there is only One China, and that China includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and the disputed islands – and that there is no such thing as a ‘China’ that does not include these areas.
The divorce of Wang Baoqiang, which actually was one of the biggest topics of 2016, was not mentioned in the Weibo Night list. Shortly after the celebrity divorce and love scandal became one of the biggest topics on Weibo of 2016, the Chinese media watchdog announced that it would restrict the hyping of private scandals of the rich and famous.
In the Weibo Night ‘top hashtag list’, the catchphrase “mystical powers” (#洪荒之力#) came in first. The term became trending after Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui used it during an interview with the state media in Rio.
Weibo’s Most Popular Artists
This year, many of the Weibo People’s Awards went to celebrities in the music category. The Weibo celebrity that won the award for being most “Internationally Influential” was Hong Kong-born American singer-songwriter Coco Lee (李玟).
Chinese pianist Lang Lang (郎朗) was awarded the price for being Weibo’s Biggest Classical Musician, and Taiwanese pop singer Zhang Xinzhe (张信哲) a.k.a. Jeff Chang was awarded with the ‘model singer’ award. Jason Zhang (张杰) won the award for Best Concert of the Year.
The award for Most Popular Singer of the Year went to Chinese rapper Z.Tao (黄子韬), who also won the Most Influential Male Singer award at the 2016 Miaopai Awards.
The Director of the Year award went to Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚) who produced the 2016 movie I Am Not Madame Bovary (我不是潘金莲). Feng was actually awarded twice this evening, as his film also became Weibo’s Best Movie of the Year.
Actresses Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨) and Ma Sichun (马思纯) were selected as winners in the Most Popular Performer category. Both women starred in the 2016 movie Soul Mate (七月与安生).
Most Influential People on Weibo
One of the most influential persons of the year, according to the Weibo Night awards, does not come as a surprise: Papi Jiang (papi酱) is the Weibo vlogger who had her big breakthrough last year with her witty online videos in which she commented on anything from family interactions to dating etiquette. In April 2016, an ad auction showed that companies were willing to pay up to 22 million RMB (3,4 million US$) to get Papi Jiang connected to their brand.
The other ‘most influential’ person was Chinese table tennis player Zhang Jike (张继科), who became the number four player in the world in 2016.
In the sports category, Chinese Olympic swimmer Sun Yang (孙杨) was awarded as Best Sportsman of the Year.
Biggest Brands of the Year
Perhaps the selection of Weibo’s biggest brands of the year during this ceremony was not completely unbiased, as many of the chosen brands were also official sponsors of the show, such as Chinese electronics manufacturer Oppo or Japanese car brand Nissan.
Other selected brands were e-commerce platform Jumei (聚美优品), Alibaba (阿里), Chinese smartphone and electronic brands Huawei (华为) and Xiaomi (小米), and ride-hailing app Didi (滴滴).
Especially Didi made headlines last year when it merged with its American rival Uber. Recently, the original Uber app has closed down and was replaced by an app specially made for the Chinese market.
Weibo King & Queen
One of the most anticipated awards of the night was that of the absolute ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ of Weibo – a People’s Choice Award that netizens could vote for in the weeks preceding the event.
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (@范冰冰) was elected Weibo Queen. The actress has been among the top 10 of celebrities with the most Weibo followers for years. The 35-year-old celebrity is one of China’s most famous fashion icons and actresses. She is also the 4th highest-paid actress in the world. She currently has over 55.1 million Weibo fans, and received over 14 million votes for the title of ‘Weibo Queen’ for this year.
The Weibo ‘King’ of the year is pop group ‘TF Boys’, that received nearly 63 million votes for the ‘King’ award. The all-boy pop group has a huge fanbase in China. 2016 marked their first performance during China’s most prestigious live event – the CCTV Chinese New Year Gala, of which the 2017 Gala will be aired later this month.
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