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35 Facts About Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year has arrived. We are saying goodbye to the year of the Horse, and welcome the year of the Goat. Did you know that New Year was once cancelled by the government? Or that Xinjiang people receive “anti-extremist” New Year’s calendars? What’s on Weibo brings you 35 facts about Chinese New Year.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese New Year has arrived. It is the most important Chinese festival of the year, and the anticipation starts weeks before it starts. Trending topics on Sina Weibo during this period include “going home”, “not able to go home”, “meeting the family-in-law” or “red envelope” (hongbao, monetary gifts during festivities). Did you know that Chinese New Year was once cancelled by the government? Or that Xinjiang people receive “anti-extremist” New Year’s calendars? What’s on Weibo brings you 35 facts about Chinese New Year.

1 * Chinese New Year has been celebrated for over 3000 years (Li 2006, ch.1).

2 * Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, and begins on a different date every year; always in January or February. It lasts for fifteen days, until the night of the full moon. It usually falls near the first day of spring, hence it is also called the Spring Festival (Smith 2000).

3 * ‘Spending New Year’ in Chinese is ‘guo nian‘ (过年, nian meaning ‘year’). According to Chinese legend, the origins of Spring Festival can be found in the battle against the Nian, a fierce and hungry man-eating beast. Except for ‘spending New Year’, ‘guo nian‘ hence also means the ‘passing of the beast’.

4 * Except for the Han (China’s greatest ethnic group) Spring Festival is also celebrated by 38 other minorities (Li 2006, ch.1).

5 *Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Kung Hei Fat Choy (Cantonese) are the most common ways to say ‘Happy New Year’ in Chinese (恭喜发财).

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6 * Fireworks are an integral part of Chinese New Year. Traditionally, the noise and fire is supposed to ward off evil spirits and bad luck.

7 * Due to worsening air pollution in China’s big cities over the past years, the enthusiasm for fireworks has curbed as the government has started anti-firework campaigns.

8 * 2015 is the Year of the Goat. It starts on February 19th and lasts until February 7th, 2016. Those with birth years 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015 are said to have been born in the year of the Goat (Sabin 2015).

9 * The Chinese character for goat 羊 (yang) can mean either ram, sheep or goat- leading to much confusion on what kind of year this actually is. According to one Chinese linguist, the only right translation is goat: it is the goat that belongs in the Chinese zodiac, as it was one of the animals that was commonly eaten in ancient China, along with other zodiac signs such as horses, cows, dogs, pigs and chickens.

10 * The Year of the Goat is marked by positive changes. In terms of culture and arts it promises cool fashion, new styles and bright colors. In terms of politics, reconciliation plays an important role in the Year of the Goat. This will be a year for peace, dialogue and understanding (Sommerville 2014).

11 * The dragon dance is a form of traditional performance seen during the Chinese New Year. The dragon is believed to bring good luck. The Beijing Aquarium even holds underwater dragon dances.

new-year-3

12 * Ahead of the festivities, there is a mass exodus within China: 2.8 billion trips are made across the country so that people can go back to their hometowns to see friends and families to celebrate Chinese New Year together (Sabin 2015).

13 * Before the festival, people clean their house. They should not clean their house on the first two days of the New Year, as it is considered bad luck to “sweep away good luck” (Sabin 2015). Similarly, people also should not wash their hair during the first two days of the new year.

14 * The color red is the central color of Spring Festival: red is believed to bring good luck and scare away evil spirits. Red is a dominant color in clothing and paper decoration during the festivities (Smith 2000).

15 * During the festivities, there are many traditional snacks and dishes. Sticky cakes and dumplings are commonly eaten throughout these days. If you’re lucky, you might find a coin in your dumpling.

16 * Besides all kinds of delicacies, long noodles are also often eaten during Chinese New Year as they represent longevity.

69c171d3jw1epdngivglaj20hs0dcn06“Preparing for New Year dinner with the family,” says one Weibo user, posting this picture.

17 * Mao Zedong was praised for celebrating Chinese New Year together with the common people (see image).

maonewyear

18 * In 1986,high-ranking official Hu Yaobang celebrated Chinese New Year in the southern province of Yunnan. In the featured image, Hu Yaobang dances traditional ethnic dance together with locals (360doc).

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19 * The year-end bonus (年终奖金) is an important issue during Chinese New Year. Some employees receive large amounts of money from their companies, others are disappointed with what they get.

20 * Most text messages are sent during Chinese New Year. The current record stands at 19 billion.

21 * If you mention ‘Chinese New Year’ on Weixin, small moneybags fall drop down in the screen.

22 * The best-watched television show during New Year’s is the Spring Festival Eve television gala by CCTV. With an estimated 800 million viewers, this show has the largest audience for any entertainment show in the world, surpassing the Super Bowl.

23 * The first Spring Festival Eve television gala took place in 1983. The show consists of different acts, including comedy sketches (Bin 1998, 220).

24 * This year, Weibo users can watch the live broadcasting of the television gala while commenting and interacting with other Weibo users without switching screens.

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25 * Before New Year’s, Hong Kong hospitals filled up with expecting mothers waiting for a caesarean section in order to make sure their babies were still born in the Year of the Horse, as it is considered a good year to have children.

26 * It is tradition to burn paper money or ‘ghost money’ during the festivities as offerings to the spirits and deceased. The paper money is sometimes made from rice paper, but silver or gold metallic paper is also common.

27 * Doctors have warned people to wear face masks when burning metallic money, as the substances that are produced when burning this money are a potential health risk.

28 * For many young single men and women, Chinese New Year is the period when they receive the most pressure from their parents to get married. Over recent years, a trend has come up where single women rent a date to take home to their parents in order to avoid critical questions on their single status.

29 * The pressure to get married is especially difficult for Chinese gays who have not come out. A Chinese gay rights organisation has therefore launched a video titled ‘Coming Home‘, urging gays to talk to their families and telling parents to be supportive during Spring Festival.

30 * A new year means a new calendar. Giving a calendar is tradition during Chinese New Year.

31 * This year, the government is giving away “anti-extremism” calendars in Urumqi in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, home to China’s Muslim Uighur population (also read: Islam in China).

32 * You might see a lot of people eating oranges and pomelo’s during New Year. The Chinese words for oranges and tangerines (橘, 桔: ju) sound like ‘luck’ (吉, ji), while pomelo (柚, you) sounds like ‘to have’ (有 you). Eating pomelo’s and oranges is thus considered to bring good luck.

33 * The Year of the Goat has a ‘mascot’ this year. Yangyang the Goat was revealed on the Weibo account of CCTV’s Spring Festival television gala. It is the first time the Spring Festival gala has a mascot.

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34 * Chinese New Year was officially cancelled in 1967 at the time of the Cultural Revolution, as it was believed that the festivities would distract the people from their “revolutionary duties”.

35 * Besides all the do’s, there are also specific don’ts during Spring Festival: do not give clocks as presents, because they symbolise time running out, avoid the use of sharp objects, as they might cut off good fortune, and do not wear black or tell ghost stories, as it might bring about negative energy (John 2015).

– by Manya Koetse

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References

Bin, Zhao. 1998. “Popular Family Television and Party Ideology: The Spring Festival Eve Happy Gathering.” Journal of Composite Materials 33: 928–40.

Chey, Ong Siew. 2011. China Condensed: 5,000 Years of History & Culture. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd.

John, Simi. 2015. “Chinese New Year 2015: Top ten superstitions.” International Business Times, February 17 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/chinese-new-year-2015-top-ten-superstitions-1488173 [18.02.15].

Sabin, Lamiat. 2015. “Chinese New Year 2015: When is it, how is it celebrated – and what does the Goat signify?” The Independent, Feb 17 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/chinese-new-year-2015-when-is-it-how-is-it-celebrated–and-what-does-the-goat-signify-10049702.html [17.02.15].

Smith, Christine. 2000. Chinese New Year Activities. Teacher Created Resources. https://books.google.com/books?id=whFBVSNN_ZkC&pgis=1.

Somerville, Neil. 2014. The Goat in 2015: Your Chinese Horoscope. HarperCollins Publishers. https://books.google.com/books?id=lrzpAgAAQBAJ&pgis=1.

Xing, Li. 2006. Festivals of China’s Ethnic Minorities. China Intercontinental Press 中信出版社.

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

“Love the Motherland” – New Moral Guidelines for Chinese Performers Come Into Force

New “Self-Disciplinary Measures” for performers in China come into force on March 1st.

Manya Koetse

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On February 5th of 2021, the China Association of Performing Arts (中国演出行业协会), which is run by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, officially released new guidelines for Chinese performers in order to promote the idea that Chinese performers should abide by rules of ‘social morality,’ stating they could face a permanent ban from their profession if they fail to comply.

The guidelines, that come into force on a trial basis starting from March 1st, are meant to “promote the healthy development of the performer industry” (“促进演出行业健康发展”). It is the first time for the Association, which was established in 1988, to introduce “clear regulations” in this way.

The regulations are presented as being “self-disciplinary measures” for actors, musicians, dancers, opera performers, acrobats, and any other people engaged in performing within China.

Part of the article presented by the China Association of Performing Arts includes the “practice norms”, which stipulate that performers, among other things, should abide by national laws and regulations, should honor their contracts and comply with copyright laws. The article also lists other things. For example, performers should:

 

  • “..love the motherland, and support the Party’s line and policies” (“热爱祖国,拥护党的路线方针政策”)
  • “..persevere in the orientation that literature and art should serve the people and socialism” (“坚持文艺为人民服务、为社会主义服务的方向”)
  • “..actively uphold a positive image” (“积极树立正面形象”)
  • “..actively participate in social charity events, help the development of public welfare undertakings, consciously put social responsibility into practice” (“积极参与社会公益活动,助力公益事业发展,自觉践行社会责任”)

 

Another part describes what performers are not allowed to do. Among other things – of which some seem obvious, such as ‘do not violate the basic principles of the Constitution’ – they include things like ‘performers may not..’:

 

  • “..jeopardize national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, endanger national security or damage national honor and interests” (“危害国家统一、主权和领土完整,危害国家安全,或者损害国家荣誉和利益”)
  • “..encite hatred against ethnic groups, discriminate against ethnic groups, infringe the customs and habits of ethnic groups, insult ethnic groups or undermine national unity” (“煽动民族仇恨、民族歧视,侵害民族风俗习惯,伤害民族感情,破坏民族团结”)
  • “..organize, participate in, or promote illegal activities regarding obscenities, pornography, gambling, drugs, violence, terrorism, or criminal elements etc” (“组织、参与、宣扬涉及淫秽、色情、赌博、毒品、暴力、恐怖或者黑恶势力等非法活动 “)
  • “..violate national religion policies, promote cults or superstition” (“违反国家宗教政策,宣扬邪教、迷信”)
  • “..do lip-sync in professional performances, deceive the audience by fake playing instruments etc” (“在营业性演出中以假唱、假演奏等手段欺骗观众”)

 

The punishment for going against these regulations is an industry-wide boycott of one year, three years, five years, or even a permanent ban depending on how serious the case is.

By stressing that art should serve the people, the China Association of Performing Arts reiterates President Xi Jinping’s views on the arts, which he previously shared at a symposium of prominent artists and writers in Beijing in 2014, and where he also said that “the arts must serve the people and serve socialism.”

As discussed by Chinese author Murong Xuecun in the New York Times in 2014 (‘The Art of Xi Jinping’ link), President Xi’s comments reminded of the famous Yan’an talks by Mao Zedong in 1942 where he prescribed the new direction for art and literature in China, saying they should serve the ‘people’ – the workers, peasants, and soldiers – and not the petty bourgeoisie or intellectuals.

The Beijing comments by Xi signaled that the Chinese government fixed its sights on literature and the arts, with Murong Xuecun already predicting that it would be the start of new lists of forbidden films, broadcasts, and publications. Those lists may now also include banned performers.

 

“Idols should be a good example for others”

 

The China Association of Performing Arts also has a Weibo account (@中国演出行业协会) where they posted about the new regulations.

“I support this, idols should be a good example for others,” one top commenter reacted to the regulations.

Others suggested that there should be a blacklist of performers engaged in illegal activities in order to “warn the industry.”

But there are also voices, such as some on Q&A site Zhihu, expressing that the current regulations are too vague, as they include stipulations that are already part of the law. Some argue that there should be a clearer description of the consequences artists will face when they violate industry guidelines or when they engage in acts that are illegal.

“Surrogate pregnancies, insulting China, taking drugs, evading taxes, etc etc – this should be banned forever,” another person said.

The ‘surrogate pregnancy’ comment refers to the controversy involving Zheng Shuang (郑爽). It already is the biggest celebrity controversy of the year in China. The 29-year-old famous Chinese actress dominated all trending topics in January of 2021 when news came out that the actress and her husband Zhang Heng (张恒) had separated and that she had left behind two children born out of surrogacy in the United States. Surrogacy is not legal in China.

Since the controversy, Zheng Shuang was dropped by the brands she represented, she was shut down by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and her honorary titles were revoked by Huading Awards.

Among all Weibo comments on the new regulations, there also many mocking them – especially the rule that stipulates performers should not lip-sync and deceive their audiences. “What about the Spring Festival Gala?”, multiple commenters say, referring to the biggest live televised state media event, that is often criticized for lip-synced performances.

 

“Can Zheng Shuang still make a comeback?”

 

The recent regulations come at a time when Chinese celebrities have enormous influence in popular culture due to the blossoming of various social media platforms – some of Weibo’s top celebrities have over 120 million fans.

At the same time, the past decades have seen a higher grade of commercialization of Chinese media, with entertainment and celebrities being a major driving force behind the success of hundreds of Chinese television stations. This has only further accelerated the influence of China’s top performers.

Loved by millions of fans, the power of Chinese celebrity artists is often also used by authorities to promote Party ideology and policies. This is done in myriad ways. In 2017, a group of Chinese celebrities praised China’s “New Era” in a song supporting Xi Jinping Thought; in 2019, influential pop stars sang about the importance of social credit.

In this thriving celebrity culture, Chinese authorities are tightening control on the culture & entertainment content that reaches millions of fans within the country. In 2019 there was a crackdown on the rising popularity of Chinese costume dramas. In 2017, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) issued a notice that Chinese television stations should refrain from broadcasting TV dramas “focused on entertaining” during primetime. These are just minor examples of ways in which authorities are shaping a popular culture environment that is not just about the entertainment alone – it should also serve the Party’s goals.

As the “self-discipline management measures” have now gone into effect, some discussions on social media are focused on whether or not these measures should be applied retroactively, and if Chinese celebrities could still be affected now for past behaviors.

In a previous interview with Xinhua News, The Secretary-General of the China Association of Performing Arts Pan Yan (潘燕) stated that previous actions or situations will not be taken into account when it comes to the current guidelines.

“Does this mean Zheng Shuang can still make a comeback?”, some netizens wondered.

Pan Yan also said that the Association has an ‘ethics committee’ which will be involved in the process of assessing whether or not artists have violated the practice norms.

 
By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Arts & Entertainment

The Chunwan Liveblog: Watching the 2021 CMG Spring Festival Gala

We’re here to keep you updated about the CMG Spring Festival Gala, China’s biggest New Year’s TV event.

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Happy Niu Year! The Lunar New Year is here, and that means millions of Chinese families are watching the annual 4-hour-long live Spring Festival Gala as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Watch the event together with What’s on Weibo, as we will liveblog throughout the show. (This event had ended, liveblog is now closed!)

In these turbulent times when everything is changing, there is one thing to count on, and that is the airing of China’s Spring Festival Gala. Despite the pandemic, the 39th edition of the festival will go ahead.

A live-streaming of the Gala will be live on Thursday, February 11, 20.00 pm China Standard Time. Check out this YouTube link, live stream from Weibo, or watch straight from CCTV. We will be live-blogging on this page here.

 

What Exactly is the ‘Chunwan’ Gala?

 

China’s CCTV Spring Festival Gala (中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会), commonly abbreviated to chūnwǎn (春晚), is an annual TV gala to celebrate the start of the new year and it is the most-watched show in the world. Although it is known as the CCTV Gala, it is now officially presented as being hosted by “China Media Group” (CMG), the predominant state media company founded in 2018 that holds China Central Television, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

Since its very first airing in 1983, the Spring Festival Gala has captured an audience of millions. In 2010, the live Gala had a viewership of 730 million; in 2014, it had reached a viewership of 900 million, and in 2019, over a billion people watched the Gala on TV and online, making the show much bigger in terms of viewership than, for example, the Super Bowl.

The show lasts a total of four hours and usually has around 30 to 40 different acts, from dance to singing and acrobatics. The acts that are both most-loved and most-dreaded are the comic sketches (小品) and crosstalk (相声); they are usually the funniest, but also convey the most political messages.

As viewer ratings of the CCTV Gala in the 21st century have skyrocketed, so has the critique on the show – which seems to be growing year-on-year. According to many viewers, the spectacle generally is often “way too political” with its display of communist nostalgia, including the performance of different revolutionary songs such as “Without the Communist Party, There is No New China” (没有共产党就没有新中国).

For this same reason, the sentence “There’ll never be a worst, just worse than last year” (“央视春晚,没有最烂,只有更烂”) has become a well-known idiom connected to the Gala.

If you want to know more about the previous editions, we also live-blogged
– 2020: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2020
– 2019: The CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2019 Live Blog
– 2018: CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2018 (Live Blog)
– 2017: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017 Live Blog
– 2016: CCTV’s New Year’s Gala 2016 Liveblog

 

Liveblog CCTV Gala 2021

 
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The original liveblog was done via a third-party app. The original texts and images are copied below for reference. The timestamp refers to the last moment that post was updated.
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What can we expect?

Feb 11 17:07

The show is starting a couple of hours from now, what can we expect?

The Spring Festival Gala usually always focuses on the themes that matter to Chinese authorities, as the event is an important moment to communicate official ideology. The themes and topic that will matter this year are the following:

– China’s battle against COVID19
– the Chinese Communist Party marks its 100th anniversary
– China’s eradication of poverty
– The upcoming Winter Olympics

These themes are likely to come up in various acts, or in the public service announcement or special moments throughout the show. Tonight, there will be a total of 36 acts including songs, dance acts, skits, acrobatics, martial arts, and some magic.

——–

What Is Weibo Anticipating Most Tonight?

Feb 11 19:15

Just an hour to go before the Gala will start! On Weibo, there are various hashtags related to the Gala, including “Chunwan Year of the Ox” (#牛年春晚#), which is already up to 270 million views at this point.

People look most forward to seeing the super popular Wang Yibo on stage, which will be in the early parts of the Gala. People also look forward to seeing Chinese top actress Yang Mi, she will be performing together with Chinese actor Liu Ye in one the show’s final acts. Then there’s the appearance of former ‘Supergirl’ star Li Yuchun, who will appear in a fashion show act that many look forward to.

We also look forward to seeing a skit that is titled “Pressured into Marriage Every Year.” Then of course, there will be the inevitable performance by Jackie Chan that always leads to some online discussions. We’re also curious to see that fashion show that highlights Chinese fashion using hologram technology.

——–

Starting in 5 Minutes!

Feb 11 19:59

Are you ready? Make sure you watch the live stream here or on YouTube here. Turn on the sound – you’ll hear pings coming up when we add an update to comment on the show throughout the night.

——–

Opening Dance

Feb 11 20:03

And…it’s begun! This first act of the night is a singing and dancing act titles “Best Wishes” (“万事如意” wàn shì rú yì – a Chinese idiom that means ‘may all your hopes be fulfilled.’)

This acts opens with some famous names (although there will be famous names throughout the show). The very pretty Tong Liya 佟丽娅 is an actress and dancer who was born in Xinjiang, she is of the Xibo ethnicity. William Chan Wai-ting is famous a Hong Kong singer, dancer and actor. We also see the actress Jiang Shuying on stage, also known as Maggie Jiang.

Performed by: Tong Liya 佟丽娅, Chen Weiting 陈伟霆 (Hong Kong), Jiang Shuying 江疏影, Du Jiang 杜江, Ouyang Nana 欧阳娜娜 (Taiwan), Long Zilan 龙紫岚 (Macau).

Updated with video link:

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Hosts of Chunwan 2021

Feb 11 20:06

Tonight’s hosts are Ren Luyu (任鲁豫), Li Sisi (李思思), Nëghmet Raxman (尼格买提), Long Yang (龙洋), and Zhang Tao (张韬).

Ren Luyu (1978) is a Chinese television host from Henan, and he has presented the Gala many times before (2010, 2016, 2018, 2019) so he is a very familiar face to the show.

Nëghmet Raxman (1983) is a Chinese television host of Uyghur heritage who also is not a newcomer; he hosted the Gala since 2015.

Li Sisi (1986) is a Chinese television host and media personality most known for her role as host of the Gala since 2012.

Then there are also two ‘newcomers.’ Long Yang (1989) is the youngest presenter tonight. Born in Hunan’s Chenzhou, she’s been working in Chinese state media for years. As a host, she’s done various big events before, but 2021 is the first time for her to host the CMG Spring Festival Gala.

Also for Zhang Tao (1988?) it is going to be the first time to present the show. Zhang currently hosts the CCTV4 China News and previously worked at Chongqing TV.

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Song and Dance “Holiday”

Feb 11 20:12

This act is called Holiday (节日), and includes African, Egyptian, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese influences.

There are some famous people involved in this act, such as the 70-year-old singer Zhu Mingying (朱明瑛) and the Chinese actor Zhang Han (张翰).

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance.

——–

Tech Innovation at the Gala

Feb 11 20:16

The Gala is always a time to showcase China’s innovative digitalization. This year, the Gala is also called a “tech innovation event,” which, for the first time, will use 8K ultra high-tech definition video and AI+VR studio technologies.

The event also features the innovative use of super high definition cloud communication technology to coordinate performances on stage.

As reported by CCTV, some actors who are not in the Chinese mainland and aren’t able to perform live due to the COVID-19 pandemic will still be “on stage”; the cloud technology allows actors who can’t be physically present during the live performances to participate via prerecorded videos while also remotely interacting with the audience.

Chinese state media have been announcing the tech integrated in the show, calling it “a breakthrough in new media communication.” It’s all about 4K, 5G, AR, AI, 3D, and 8K!

This year, the Gala is cooperating with the Douyin app for its ‘hongbao’ (red envelope) activities.

——–

Yue Yunpeng & Sun Yue Crosstalk

Feb 11 20:26

This is the first xiangsheng of the night. Xiangsheng (相声), or ‘crosstalk,’ is a dialogue between actors with rich puns and word jokes, that usually sees two actors with one playing the “joker” and the other playing the “teaser. ”

On stage, we see Chinese actor Yue Yunpeng (1985), who is particularly known for his xiangsheng performances, together with well-known Beijing-born comedian Sun Yue (1979). This is a famous duo, they’ve previously also performed together at the Gala.

The two are looking back at the songs that have appeared at the festival throughout the years – all songs that the audience can sing together with them.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance.

——–

Chinese New Year Face Masks

Feb 11 20:22

Today’s event is taking place with an audience attending, as every year. This is also possible due to China’s super strict COVID19 measures and requirements.

What is noteworthy is the masks worn by every audience member – they are special Year of the Ox Spring Festival face masks made by the China Media Group for this occasion. How very 2021.

——–

Traditional Jokes

Feb 11 20:29

Some jokes just never get old.. like this one, that also surfaced on Chinese social media last year.

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Andy Lau, Wang Yibo, Guan Xiaotong “Niu Qilai”

Feb 11 21:59

OMG! Robot ox, virtual ox, 3D ox – Year of the Ox in China’s digital era!

Here comes Andy Lau, one of Hong Kong’s most famous actors. But it’s probably not Andy that most people are excited about now – it’s Wang Yibo, one of Weibo’s most influential celebrities of the moment.

Talking about the most-anticipated act of this night, it’s actually Wang Yibo according to social media users – there was an online poll on who they want to see most tonight.

Wang Yibo (1997) is a Chinese actor, singer, dancer, and rapper who debuted as a member of the South Korean-Chinese boyband UNIQ in 2014 and starred in the 2019 Chinese TV series The Untamed (陈情令). On Sina Weibo, the celebrity was the champion of Weibo’s ‘Most Influential Celebrity’ charts recently – he really has a huge online fanbase.

Also performing here is Beijing actress Guan Xiaotong (1997), who is also known as the ‘national daughter’ for always playing the daughter roles in tv-series and movies. Remember that time when Weibo servers were down due to a celebrity relationship announcement? That was about Guan and her relationship with Chinese singer and actor Lu Han.

Updated with video link:

——–

Martial Arts Meet High Tech

Feb 11 20:47

This act is titled “Heroes of Heaven and Earth” (天地英雄) and uses AR technology to integrate nature landscapes into martial arts scenes.

And then there’s this performer who is hanging by her hair that is causing some discussion online:

em>Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

——–

“How come Andy Lau never gets old?!”

Feb 11 20:43

Meanwhile, on Chinese social media, netizens are discussing why it seems that everyone is getting older except for actor Andy Lau, who performed in the act before this. Andy Lau was born in the Year of the Ox and he’s 60 years old!

Fun fact: all of the performers in that act, namely Andy Lau, Guan Xiaotong, and Wang Yibo were all born in the Year of the Ox.

——–

The 2021 Theme and Director

Feb 11 20:50

While we are into the sixth act of the night, let’s look at the theme and director of this show for a second.

After themes such as “New China”, “Chinese Dream”, “National Unity”, “Family Affinity”, and “Chinese values, Chinese power,” this year’s theme is focused on reflecting the daily lives of ordinary people.

Due to COVID19, this is also a special edition of the festival. Usually, it takes place from various locations with different hosts across China. This year, that is not the case.

This year’s chief director is Chen Linchun (陈临春). After the Guangdong director Yang Dongsheng (杨东升) directed the CCTV Gala in 2017, 2018, and 2020, it’s a different chief director for a change, but Chen is definitely no stranger to the Gala. He previously directed the event in 2008 and 2011 and was also closely involved in the production before.

The Gala is always completely rehearsed multiple times before the live show. The fifth rehearsal of the Gala took place on Tuesday.

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New Social Media Traditions are Born

Feb 11 22:00

Another “new tradition” is online shopping while watching the festival.

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“Running Youth”

Feb 11 21:03

This song is called “Running Youth” (奔跑的青春), performed by many well-known faces.

One of them is the popular Dilraba Dilmurat 迪丽热巴, a young Chinese actress of Uyghur ethnicity.

em>Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Special Program: “Report to the Motherland”

Feb 11 21:10

This special part of the show invites Chinese space experts to tell the story of spaceflight, and there will be representatives of the “2020 Poverty Alleviation Award” to shortly address China’s anti-poverty efforts.

em>Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Andy Lau became a meme already

Feb 11 21:08

Meanwhile.. on Weibo, the actor Andy Lau who performed earlier tonight seems to have become a meme, with people sharing this segment of the song that wishes everyone a prosperous New Year. Gōng xǐ fā cái!

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“The Road of Pursuing Dreams,” Performed by Han Hong

Feb 11 21:14

This song titled “The Road of Pursuing Dreams” (追梦之路) performed by Han Hong (韩红), a famous singer and songwriter of mixed Han and Tibetan ethnicity. She became a topic of banter on social media for earlier performances during the Chunwan that were a bit awkward.

em>Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Beautiful Jasmine Dance

Feb 11 21:19

This dance is called “Jasmine” (茉莉) with the lead dancer Meng Qingyang and performance by the China Oriental Performing Arts Group.

Updated with video link:

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(Act 10) Skit: “Balcony”

Feb 11 21:38

This skit was among one of the more anticipated performances tonight. It is focused on the early days of the epidemic in China and how to overcome hardships.

The skit is about people during the lockdown who are worried about family members working on the frontlines. Neighbors use drones to pass on food.

The end of the lockdown is then lifted (looking back on April 2020), which is celebrated. The Gala switches to scenes of Wuhan and real frontline workers.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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“Tomorrow Will Be Better”

Feb 11 21:46

This song, titled “Tomorrow Will Be Better” (明天会更好) is a clear reference to the pandemic and it is sung by, among others, Jackie Chan! It continues on the same stage and in the same setting as the skit before this.

Jackie Chan (成龙) has become an annually returning performer at the CCTV Gala. Although his performances are always much-anticipated, they’ve also been pretty cringe-worthy. In 2017, the song performed by Jackie that was simply titled “Nation” was met with criticism for being overly political. In 2018, the Hong Kong martial artist sung a song that was called “China” and in 2019 he performed ‘My Struggle, My Happiness.’

We also see Zhu Yilong on stage, a Chinese actor born in 1988. He was voted as one of the actors that Chinese social media users were looking forward to see most at tonight’s Gala.

(Picture above shows performer with “thank you” on this shirt). Many netizens say they are moved to tears by this song and the memory of everything that happened last year during the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan.

Updated with video link:

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The “Tomorrow Will Be Better Song” Moved Many to Tears

Feb 11 21:48

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“China in the Lights”

Feb 11 21:51

The Gala is moving fast! “China in the Lights” (灯火里的中国) preceded the skit that is now on stage, and it was sung by Chinese singers Zhang Ye (张也) and Zhou Shen (周深, also known as Charlie Zhou), accompanied by performers from the Evergrande Folk Song and Dance Troupe and others.

em>Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Spring Cleaning (大扫除)

Feb 11 21:57

This performance is called ‘Spring Cleaning’ (大扫除), referring to the custom of cleaning the house before the Chinese New Year – a way of driving away the bad luck of the previous year to allow for a new start.

Performing here are Sun Tao (孙涛), Wang Xun (王迅), Qin Hailu (秦海璐), Huang Zitao (黄子韬). The skit makes fun of Chinese bureaucracy.

This skit is especially noteworthy because Chinese singer-songwriter, rapper, actor, and model Huang Zitao is in it. He became super popular as a former member of the South Korean-Chinese boy band Exo and its Chinese sub-unit, Exo-M.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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FASHION SHOW

Feb 11 22:20

This fashion show (山水霓裳) takes place around Li Yuchun’s solo performance, and it highlights the beauty of Chinese costumes in a new way. As state media previously reported, the fashion show uses split-screen shooting and hologram technology to show the beauty of Chinese costumes to “demonstrate cultural confidence.”

Around 2013, Li Yuchun was one of the most discussed female artists on the Chinese Internet. She was the winner of China’s ‘Supergirl’ TV show and became a national idol and a cultural phenomenon. Due to her androgynous look, Li Yuchun’s stardom led to online discussions on the tomboy trend and sexuality, as she challenged the conventional Chinese criteria for feminine aesthetics and traditional gender norms. It is the third time for Li to participate in the Gala.

Updated with video link:

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如此家长

Feb 11 22:21

Here is another xiangsheng act now with performers Jin Fei (金霏) and Chen Xi (陈曦). The act is about being parents and children’s education.

Some people on Weibo are joking that it’s good that the audience is wearing face masks so nobody has to pretend to laugh when they think the jokes aren’t funny.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Relatives – Weibo blowing up!

Feb 11 22:28

This song is super popular, social media is exploding, because superstars Zhang Jie and Yi Yang Qianxi (Jackson Yee) are on stage. Jackson Yee became the youngest member of the Chinese boy band TFBoys in 2013 and is also a solo artist and singer, he has an enormous fanbase on social media.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Chinese Opera (盛世百花园)

Feb 11 22:38

In comparison to other acts, there are few Chinese Opera acts in the Spring Festival Gala nowadays, but this is an elaborate act that includes many famous names.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Lay Zhang Is Here

Feb 11 22:45

This act was among the acts that was discussed the most on social media before the Spring Festival Gala began, because it is Lay Zhang (张艺兴) singing “Picture Scroll” (画卷). Zhang is a Chinese singer-songwriter, music producer, dancer, and actor. He debuted as a member of the South Korean-Chinese boy group Exo.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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On the Train to Spring

Feb 11 23:07

This performance is called “Towards the Happiness of Spring Days” (开往春天的幸福) and takes place on the high-speed train. The skit has a focus on hard work, duty, and also touches upon China’s rapid developments (the gaotie train, 5G, etc).

One of the performers in this skit is Chinese actress Ni Ni, who is praised on social media for her slim and pretty body figure.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Shepherds of Keketuohai

Feb 11 23:07

This song is called “Shepherds of Keketuohai (可可托海的牧羊人) performed by artist Wang Qi (王琪) and actress Luo Wenbo (骆文博). This song was released earlier in 2020.

Keketuohai is a national park / scenic area in Xinjiang that has many geological wonders.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Pressured to Marry

Feb 11 23:21

“Pressured to Marry Every Holiday” (每逢佳节被催婚) is a skit that focuses on the social pressure many Chinese young people feel, especially during Chinese New Year, when parents and relatives will ask them why they still are not married?! This had led to the phenomenon of people ‘renting’ fake boyfriends or girlfriends to avoid nagging questions, something that is also mentioned in this performance.

Some people on social media actually dread this skit because they are single and pressured, and this doesn’t help!



Performed by: Kaili Zhang 张凯丽, Zhang Guoqiang 张国强, Wan Xi 万茜, Ren Jialun 任嘉伦, Wu Hailong 吴海龙, Zhang Weiwei 张维威

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Children’s Song and Dance

Feb 11 23:32

“Listen to me” is the 22nd act of tonight (we’re not there yet.. still 14 more to go OMG!). This dance is performed by the Air Force Blue Sky Children’s Art Troupe.

Also on stage are ‘Sister Moon’ and Wang Yuan (Roy Wang), who is known as one of China’s most influential teens, although he is now 20 years old.

Luo Tianyi was also in this performance, a Chinese Vocaloid released by Shanghai Henian Information Technology Co. in 2012. She is the first Vocaloid Chinese singer.

Updated with video link:

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Crested Ibis

Feb 11 23:36

Zhu Jiejing (朱洁静) is here with the dance performance Zhuhuan (朱鹮), referring to the Crested ibis (a type of bird).

Zhu (1985) is a top dancer in China. She was recruited by Shanghai Dance School at the age of 9 and went on to have a flourishing career.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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National treasures returning home

Feb 11 23:41

Chinese actor Zhang Guoli is presenting this segment, which is a special part of the program about cultural relics that “return home”, meaning they returned to the mainland from overseas.

The Buddha head that is introduced here was returned from Japan.

The idea behind this “returning to the motherland” segment is of course also symbolical – stressing the importance of the Chinese nation as the (cultural) home.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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“I love you China”

Feb 11 23:47

An ode to China in this piece titled “I love China’ (我爱你中国), with on piano Li Yundi, the famous concert pianist, and dance by Tan Yuanyuan (Chinese American) and Zhang Aoyue.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Meanwhile on Taobao…

Feb 11 23:49

Meanwhile, the Chunyun is flourishing on e-commerce platform Taobao as well. Some Taobao sellers have managed to collect entire wardrobes of performers worn on stage just now.

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“Be Rest Assured, China”

Feb 11 23:55

China’s military power is the focus in this scene, where Lei Jia sings “Don’t Worry, Homeland” with images of the military in the background.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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100 Years Communist Party

Feb 11 23:58

This song (唱支山歌给党听) is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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HAPPY NIU YEAR!

Feb 11 23:59

While people on social media are complaining their parents are falling asleep, it’s 0:00 in Mainland China. The New Year is here!

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The Big Reunion

Feb 12 00:12

An inescapable part of Chunwan is the moment where everyone gets together and all ethnic groups and age groups and types of performances are thrown out on the stage together. That moment is now. This song is called “All People are One” (万众一心).

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Silly jokes keep coming

Feb 12 00:12

As we’re entering some of the final acts, some Chinese social media users have found a striking similarity between popstar Huang Zitao and the Buddha head that was just proudly presented on the #SpringFestivalGala as a national treasure returned to the motherland.

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Catching up…

Feb 12 00:18

The final acts of the night are always seemingly going much faster than the first (or we’re getting more tired), so what did we miss? The people you saw earlier were representatives of national medals and national honorary titles, including some people honored in the fight against COVID19.

There was the Peaceful Snow Picture song (瑞雪平安图) featuring Han Xue, Yuan Jiawei, and Wang Junkai – who is hugely popular as a member of the TFBoys.

We have now arrived at the xiangsheng act featuring Li Yinfei and Ye Peng.

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Sun Nan

Feb 12 00:24

Chinese singer Sun Nan is a recurring performer on the Spring Festival Gala. He was also the singer who danced together with 540 robots in an earlier version of the gala.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Andrea Bocelli and Matteo Bocelli Sing “Fall on Me”

Feb 12 00:30

These Italian performers joined via ‘cloud’ performance and were not actually in Beijing.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Burning Snowflakes/Love is Here (Olympic 2022 Song)

Feb 12 00:37

This performance is called ‘Burning Snowflakes’ (燃烧的雪花) and it is among the acts that was discussed a lot before tonight due to the participation of Yang Mi (1986).

This beautiful actress and singer gained fame and popularity through her various roles in Chinese hit TV dramas. Born in Beijing, Yang already started her acting career at the age of 4. Yang is now seen as one of Chinas biggest actresses, and also as one with the most commercial value; she was listed in the Top 10 Forbes Chinese Celebrities of 2020. And with 110 million fans (!) on her Weibo account, she is one of the most popular social media stars in China.

Also on stage is Chinese actor Liu Ye (刘烨, 1978), who is regarded as one of China’s top actors.

The enormous dancing panda on stage perhaps tells us more on what we can expect for the Winter Olympics in China in 2022.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Meanwhile..

Feb 12 00:47

While the show is entering its final phase and Jay Chou is singing Mojito.. (virtual presence via cloud tech, he’s not in the studio)..

..the news that BBC is no longer allowed to broadcast in mainland China is already called the biggest news of the Chinese New Year.

Updated with video links:
Link to video of Jay Chou performance; Link to video of following performance

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The Last Dance

Feb 12 00:30

This is the last dance of the night, a dance for ‘good luck’ featuring lead dancers Wang Haitian and Zhou Xu, with a performance by the China Eastern Performing Arts Group.

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

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Unforgettable Night

Feb 12 00:55

Unforgettable Night! The last song of this night is “Unforgettable Night” (难忘今宵).

It is sung by the senior singer and dancer Li Guyi (李谷一), who became famous with the song ‘Homeland Love’ (乡恋) around the time of China’s Reform and Opening Up – the singer and her songs are nostalgic for many viewers. Li Guyi also appeared at the very first version of the Gala in 1983, and became the singer that sang the most at the event.

Li Guyi sings the same song every year at the end of this show. The last song ends with all performers of the Beijing venue on stage. The song repeats the phrases 共祝愿 祖国好: let’s all wish together that the country will be good, that it will last long and be prosperous. The hosts wish everyone a happy new year, and much luck for the new year. And so do we! It’s a wrap, happy niu year to you!

Updated with video link:
Link to video of this performance

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

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