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Bad Publicity for Tsinghua University After Firing Teacher

Trending topic of July 29, 2014: Students and netizens collectively protest the dismissal of one female teacher at Tsinghua University, turning it into a top trending topic on Sina Weibo. Teacher Fang Yanhua was employed at Tsinghua’s Department of Foreign Languages, and praised by her students.

Manya Koetse

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[box] This is Weiblog: the What’s on Weibo blog section. Short daily updates on what is currently trending on China’s biggest social medium, Sina Weibo.[/box]

 

Trending topic of July 29, 2014: Students and netizens collectively protest the dismissal of one female teacher at Tsinghua University, turning it into a top trending topic on Sina Weibo. Teacher Fang Yanhua was employed at Tsinghua’s Department of Foreign Languages, and praised by her students. Tsinghua fired the teacher earlier this year because she did not make enough academic publications during the past few years. Her students shout out on Weibo: “She put her heart and soul in teaching – this is why she did not have enough time for research.” They have started an online petition to give the teacher her old job back.

The disagreement over Tsinghua’s dismissal of the teacher touches on a deeper discussion on education in China. Although Tsinghua is one of China’s top-ranking universities, students express their dissatisfaction with the quality of teaching. At Tsinghua, but also at China’s other universities, bureaucracy is often prioritized over education- teachers are required to invest a certain amount of time in research and might lose their jobs if they do not do so. One netizen says: “Don’t tell me the amount of essays one writes represents a person’s value? No wonder so many talented people are leaving China. Who would be responsible for that?”

Another netizen writes: “This issue directly relates to a university phenomenon; the majority of teachers all do research but don’t care about teaching. So who is responsible for educating China’s students? Research..research.., job requirements, academic requirements…  You talk about how to get China’s universities up in the rankings with the international ones, well, how about starting by properly teaching your students! There is no lack of good teachers, but there are also a lot of good-for-nothings who just want to get their names out there. Please, let the good teachers stay, to prevent students from fleeing the classrooms.” Another netizen remarks: “No wonder more and more people are starting to hate Tsinghua..”

There are no official statements from the university on the online protest or the dismissal of the teacher on Tsinghua’s website, nor on its official Weibo account.

 

– by Manya Koetse

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 Books & Literature

“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors

Manya Koetse

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As news of The Bookworm’s closing makes its rounds on social media, Beijingers have responded in shock, mourning the loss of an iconic and meaningful meeting place for book(worm) lovers around the city.

The Bookworm Beijing, at Nansanlitun Road, is a bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space that has become a center of cultural exchange for Beijing’s foreign community since 2005.

The location is a beating heart of Beijing’s literary world; a place where writers, journalists, students, diplomats, academics, and all kinds of people – both foreign and Chinese – come together to exchange knowledge, read, and sit down for a glass of wine.

Today, the Bookworm announced its sudden closure via WeChat, writing:

It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease.”

The announcement further says that the location will be forced to suspend operations “most probably” as of Monday, November 11, and that the Bookworm will attempt to reorganize and find a new location.

News of the Bookworm’s closing has been becoming a topic of conversation on various social media sites from WeChat to Twitter and Weibo.

Famous Chinese journalist and author Luo Changping (罗昌平) writes on Weibo: “The Bookworm is forced to close! It used to be next door to my former office, and it was once like my living room. Sigh.”

Shanghai comedian Storm Xu called the closure of the Beijing Bookworm “the end of an era,” saying he looks back on many good memories there.

“They had many events, good food, special books; I used to go there a few times per year,” one person writes. “This really is so sad,” other Weibo users respond.

There are also various Weibo commenters who also mention that news of Bookworm’s closing comes just a day after the news that publisher of magazine-books and online bookseller Duku Books (读库) is forced to close its Beijing warehouse for the sixth time.

Over the past decade, many popular venues in Beijing have been forced to close their doors or relocate. Beijing hangouts such as Bed Bar, Salud, Vineyard Cafe, 2 Kolegas, Jiangjinjiuba, Mao Livehouse, Hercules, Aperativo, The Bridge Cafe, Great Leap Brewery Sanlitun, Jing-A Taproom 1949, and many others have all been closed over the past years.

Nightlife hotspot Sanlitun bar street was demolished and bricked up in 2017 as part of the mission of the city management to gentrify the area.

Changing Sanlitun in 2017.

The demolishment of “illegal structures” in the city has been an ongoing effort of the local government for years. These efforts became especially visible in late 2017 when people in Beijing’s Daxing area faced a large-scale evacuation campaign after a big fire broke out there on November 18, killing 19 people.

The large-scale evacuation campaign was also expanded to other areas of Beijing in a campaign by the municipal authorities aimed at unlicensed developments to target “illegal structures” and “buildings with potential fire hazards.”

But many people on Weibo and WeChat questioned if the campaign was actually more about politics than about safety concerns – something that was strongly refuted by state media outlets at the time.

These questions will remain unanswered, also for the Bookworm. Is its closure really about closing down an “illegal structure,” or are there more politically-motivated considerations playing a role here? On Weibo, some commenters say the location is closed down for being a home of free discussions and “free thinking,” while others say that no matter what the place is, the building’s safety and legal status is what matters here.

Perhaps the future will tell. We surely hope the Bookworm will soon pop up and open its doors in another location very soon.

Those who are interested can support the Bookworm by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted, until November 11.

By Manya Koetse

Images: Bookworm images by The Bookworm, edited by What’s on Weibo.
Sanlitun Image: Might have been taken by Manya in Beijing 2017, but we’re not 100% sure so let us know if we’re mistaken.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Online Anger over Inappropriate Toast by Dutch Watch Brand Executive at Chinese Dinner Party

This is how NOT to do a toast in Dutch!

Manya Koetse

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Instead of teaching guests at a Chinese dinner party how to say “cheers” in Dutch, this viral video shows how the Chinese are told to join in saying “dikke lul,” the Dutch expression for “big d*ck.”

UPDATE: FYI – the videos relating to this incident have been taken offline after the publication of this article. There are no active video links in this article.

The Amsterdam-based watch & jewelry brand Rosefield has recently come under fire within the Chinese community in the Netherlands after a video went viral showing Rosefield’s CEO and its Head of Sourcing proposing an unusual toast at a Chinese dinner party.

The video, that was viewed over 173,000 times on Dutch site Dumpert.nl, shows a woman in a white blouse bringing out a toast, saying:

In Dutch, we say ‘ganbei’ or ‘cheers’ in this way, and it would be nice if you all can say the same, we say: ‘dikke lul.‘”

The people at the table then proceed to toast saying “Dikke lul” – which, in fact, is not the Dutch word for ‘cheers’ but for ‘big dick,’ something that the Chinese people at the table are seemingly not aware of.

On WeChat, Chinese-language newspaper Asian News (华侨新天地) reported about the video and identified the Dutch woman and man at the table as the CPO and CEO of Rosefield Watches, a fast-growing luxury brand that is active in various countries.

Asian News describes the incident as a way of “ridiculing Chinese friends,” and writes it has triggered anger online.

Asian News (华侨新天地) is a Chinese language newspaper founded in 1992. It is mainly distributed in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Its WeChat account has some 120,200 followers, and the post on the ‘cheers’ video was among its most-well read on WeChat this week.

The blog post noted that ever since the ‘dikke lul’ video has gone viral in the Netherlands, it has become one of the first results showing up when searching for the vulgar expression ‘dikke lul’ on Google.

Although it is not clear where the video was filmed and how it ended up on short video site Dumpert, it is rumored in WeChat groups that it was recorded during the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair earlier this month, and that the Chinese guests are business relations of the Dutch brand (unconfirmed).

The comment section on the Dumpert site shows that although some Dutch commenters think the video is funny, there are many who find it “vulgar,” “rude,” and “distasteful.”

Although many (overseas) Chinese expressed anger in various WeChat groups – some expressing regret over a Rosefield watch they recently purchased – the Asia News blog does remind readers that we do not know the context of the video, and whether or not there was a certain pretext or common understanding to the joke.

Nevertheless, the blog states, this kind of behavior is not professional and if a company such as Rosefield wants to earn money in China, “it should also respect Chinese culture and people.”

Although there have been ample discussions about the controversial video on Wechat, there are no online discussions about this issue on Weibo at the time of writing.

Over the past year, many foreign brands became a focus for controversy in China.

In November of 2018, Italian fashion house D&G faced consumer outrage and backlash on Chinese social media for a video that was deemed ‘racist’ to China and for insulting remarks about Chinese people allegedly made by designer Stefano Gabbana.

Swiss investment bank UBS sparked controversy in June for a column which mentioned “Chinese pigs.”

Over this summer, various foreign companies apologized to China for listing ‘Hong Kong’ as a separate country or region on its websites and/or t-shirts.

Still curious about how to actually say ‘cheers’ in Dutch? It’s ‘proost’ and this is how you pronounce it correctly.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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