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Happy Ending to Unfortunate Love Story of Dutchman in China

The unfortunate love story of a Dutchman in China has made international headlines over the past week, as the man waited for over ten days on Changsha airport in hopes of meeting his online Chinese girlfriend who failed to show up. Although the man was even admitted to a local hospital in critical condition, the story now seems to have taken an unexpectedly happy turn.

Manya Koetse

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The unfortunate love story of a Dutchman in China has made international headlines over the past week, as the man waited for over ten days on Changsha airport in hopes of meeting his online Chinese girlfriend – who failed to show up. Although the man was even admitted to a local hospital in critical condition, the story now seems to have unexpectedly taken a happy turn.

The 41-year-old Alexander Pieter Cirk from the Netherlands recently traveled to China’s Hunan province in the hopes of meeting his online girlfriend there. When the young woman did not show up, Cirk did not give up hope to see her and stayed at the airport day and night. After the man had been waiting at the airport for 8 days, his remarkable story was reported by Chinese local media on June 28.

The story of ‘Peter’ and ‘Zhang’

News of the Dutchman’s failed romance made its rounds on Chinese social media under the hashtag of “Foreign Man Visits Online Girlfriend in Changsha” (#外籍男赴长沙见女网友#). The story was later also reported internationally, from Dutch blog Geenstijl to the BBC and Washington Post.

PETER 3

Although some Chinese netizens saw Cirk, simply referred to as ‘Peter’ (皮特), as the poor victim of an online fake romance, others deemed him a cheat and a swindler. Many netizens initially blamed the girl for cheating the Dutchman: “This girl really is unbelievable,” one netizen writes: “She cheats foreign men and lets them come from so far away.” But others commented: “You can just see he’s a swindler by looking at him, go back to your own country!” And: “He looks like a drug addict.”

Cirk made headlines again when he was admitted to the hospital after waiting at the airport for over ten days, on July 31. The Dutchman reportedly was hospitalized for physical exhaustion and neglecting his diabetes, eating nothing but instant noodles and sleeping on airport benches. Doctors stated that he was critically ill.

PETER BENCH

PETER HOSP[ITAL

According to Tencent News, the man had initially not been in contact with his online girlfriend after arriving in China. But when his story appeared on local news stations, the mysterious girlfriend – who goes by the name of ‘Zhang’ – got in touch with reporters to share her side of the story.

According to Zhang, she had met ‘Peter’ on an online platform only over a month ago and the two hit it off. They had discussed meeting one day, but according to Zhang, this would maybe take place a year from now. When he later suddenly send her a photo of him and an airplane, she thought he was joking and never expected him to really come to Changsha. In the days that followed, Zhang waited online to get in touch with Peter, but could not get hold of him.

Zhang later traveled to Zhengzhou, where she underwent a plastic surgery procedure. It was from the hospital where she learned of Cirk’s arrival and hospitalization. She told reporters she was not able to come and meet him as she was still recovering from her plastic surgery, which was allegedly confirmed by her doctor.

A Happy Ending

A video of the story of the Dutchman has been shared on Chinese social media through video platform Miaopai that shows the man waiting and being hospitalized, accompanied by a cheerful tune. Most netizens find the situation funny, people commenting “this guy is crazy”, or saying “she thought she’d meet a northern European Mr. Perfect, but saw a hooligan instead.”

The story of Peter and Zhang – turn on subtitles for English.

In the meantime, Cirk is no longer in critical condition and he has been released from the hospital. He flew back to Amsterdam on Tuesday, August 2, where he told reporters at the airport that he “took the wrong steps to meet the girl” and that it was “the wrong timing”. He also confirmed he did not have the girl’s phone number upon his arrival in China and that there was no way to reach her.

The story does seem to have a happy ending since various Chinese media outlets now report that despite all upheaval, Zhang still hopes to “continue this romance” with Peter.

Cirk also confirmed that he has now obtained Zhang’s phone number and spoke to her over the phone for 4,5 hours to clear things up. The girl allegedly told him “not to do this again”. Next time, the two can make a proper appointment to meet up.

According to the Dutch Telegraaf newspaper, Sander has arrived home safely and is currently together with his parents in the Dutch city of Den Helder.

The Dutchman’s unfortunate week in China has not made him lose hope on his affair with Zhang: “She is the woman of my dreams,” he tells Dutch reporters. Both Zhang and Peter have confirmed that their love affair is not over yet – it might just be the beginning. For now, they will not meet at any airport, but will safely keep their love affair right where it started: in cyberspace.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Wandering Earth 2 Production Costs: Why Director Frant Gwo is Nicknamed ‘Master in Begging for Alms’

Contributing to the Wandering Earth 2 production without getting paid? It’s “powering up Chinese sci-fi with love.”

Wendy Huang

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Wandering Earth director Frant Gwo (Guo Fan) is also nicknamed the ‘Master in Begging for Alms’ (化缘大师) on social media. His efforts to convince actors and companies to contribute to the movie has kept production costs relatively low.

With the sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth II, directed by Guo Fan (郭帆 aka Frant Gwo) taking center stage during this Spring Festival movie season, there have been many social media discussions about the film and how it has been reviewed (read here), as well as about the production of the film, or more particularly, about the total production costs for this film.

Based on a story written by Liu Cixin, author of the award-winning sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem, The Wandering Earth II is the prequel to the 2019 blockbuster hit The Wandering Earth, China’s all-time highest-grossing sci-fi film and the fifth highest-grossing non-English film of all time.

It is reported that the production investment costs for The Wandering Earth II reached approximately 600 million yuan ($88.5 million). Compared to the production budget of American sci-fi hit films such as Interstellar ($165 million) or Inception ($160 million), Chinese audiences had expected The Wandering Earth II to have much higher production costs than the reported budget, especially considering the spectacular scenes featured in the film.

The relatively lower production costs sparked discussions on Chinese social media, where the hashtag “Guo Fan – the Master in Begging for Alms” (#郭帆 化缘大师#) went trending, gaining in popularity as multiple insiders shared more stories about the production of the movie.

The hashtag, which suggests that Director Guo is a ‘Fundraising Master’ for keeping production costs low, has received over 70 million views at the time of writing. The Chinese 化缘 huàyuán means to raise funds for something or to ‘beg alms’ (like Buddhist monks or Taoist priests do).

Guo’s strict budget control already became a hot topic after the 2019 release of The Wandering Earth. One of the most famous stories is that of the movie’s main star Wu Jing (吴京), as he allegedly began as a guest celebrity and ended up as the leading actor without getting paid, while investing approximately 60 million yuan ($8.85 million) in the film’s production.

A female presenter recently also shared her story on Weibo about her free participation in the production of The Wandering Earth in 2019, which apparently showed the film’s tight production budget. In her post, she wrote: “They didn’t fool me, instead, they just told me directly that I wouldn’t get paid.” Considering the rare opportunity to act in a Chinese sci-fi production, she went to the set at her own expense and filmed scenes, including outdoor scenes in the snow and freezing cold, only to end up being featured less than a second in the finished film. Nonetheless, she said she was still proud to be a part of the landmark Chinese sci-fi film.

Perhaps the idea of taking part in a groundbreaking Chinese science fiction film has made many individuals, companies, and organizations willing to work with Guo’s team, even if no additional compensation or payment was provided.

XCMG Machinery (Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co, Ltd), China’s premier company in industrial design, is also one of these companies. The company set up a team of a total of 319 XCMG staff members to support the project and provided a wide range of operational and transformable machinery equipment for the UEG (United Earth Government) in the film. They called this “powering up Chinese Sci-fi with love.”

Chinese netizens already nicknamed Wandering Earth (流浪地球) “Little Broken Ball” (小破球) back in 2019. The “Ball” refers to the Earth – the second character (球) of Earth in Chinese (地球) literally means ball. It was the director himself who initially referred to his film this way, and this nickname was then popularized among netizens to describe how the Earth is in crisis in the film, but it also refers to how difficult it was for Guo to produce the film.

The fact that Guo managed to produce Wandering Earth II with a relatively limited budget compared to other big international sci-fi movies has instilled some pride among netizens. One popular blogger (@秦祎墨) suggested the actual production value of the movie went far beyond the quoted $88.5 million thanks to the collective spirit of Chinese companies who did all they could to turn this film into a mega hit.

Others praised Guo for being able to get so many people and companies involved, claiming that if it wasn’t for him, the movie would have ended up costing at least twice as much.

Some are already looking forward to a potential Wandering Earth III, saying that the ‘Little Broken Ball’ series has already managed to gather such a strong team of companies, technical support, post-production innovation and experts, that the ‘Wandering Earth universe’ should not stop after two films.

Reflecting on being nicknamed the ‘Master of Begging for Alms,’ director Guo himself reportedly expressed his gratitude toward everyone who worked on the film who was “tricked” by him, saying it is their generosity that eventually made the production of The Wandering Earth II possible.

By Wendy Huang, with contributions by Manya Koetse

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China Digital

U.S. Embassy Launches WeChat Stickers Featuring Cartoon Eagle

A Weibo hashtag about the eagle stickers, that feature some phrases previously used by China’s Foreign Ministry, has now been taken offline.

Manya Koetse

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On January 30, the American Embassy in China announced the launch of its very own series of social media gifs, a special ’emoticon collection’ (表情包), featuring a little, somewhat silly cartoon eagle.

The U.S. Embassy launched the eagle series on WeChat and also announced the series on their Weibo account, writing that the eagle made its first public appearance in light of the festivities surrounding the Chinese New Year.

The eagle is called “Xiaomei” or “Little Mei” (鹰小美). The ‘mei’ is part of 美国 Měiguó, Chinese for the ‘United States,’ but měi also means beautiful and pretty.

The American embassy issued a total of 16 different animated stickers, and they’re intended to be used on Tencent’s WeChat, where users can download all kinds of different emoticons or stickers to use in conversations.

WeChat users often use many different animated stickers in conversations to express emotions, make jokes, or increase the festive mood (by sending out celebratory New Year’s or birthday etc gifs). Users can download new and preferred sticker packages through the app’s sticker section.

One sticker shows Xiaomei with a festive decoration with 福 () for blessing and prosperity, wishing everyone a happy start to the Chinese Lunar New Year. There are also stickers showing the texts “happy winter,” “hi,” and “thank you.”

Another sticker in the series that has triggered some online responses is one that shows the eagle with a surprised look, wiping its eyes, with the words “wait and see” written above. The Chinese expression used is 拭目以待 shìmù yǐdài, to eagerly wait for something to happen, literally meaning to wipe one’s eyes and wait.

This same expression was often used by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) during press conferences, and he also used it in 2022 when responding to questions related to Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan and how the Chinese military would respond (e.g. he first used “wait and see” in the context of waiting to see if Pelosi would actually dare to go to Taiwan or not). But Zhao also used “please wait and see” (请大家拭目以待) when foreign reporters asked him how China would respond to the announced U.S. boycott of the Winter Olympics in 2021.

The Little Mei emoji triggered the most responses as some netizens felt it was meant as a sneer to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

One of Little Mei’s quotes is also “remain calm” (保持冷静 bǎochí lěngjìng), which was – perhaps coincidentally – also often used by Zhao in the context of the war in Ukraine and to refer to other international conflicts or tensions (“all parties should remain calm”). The animated sticker also has olive branches growing behind the eagle.

It recently became known that Zhao, who became known as the ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomat, was removed as the Foreign Ministry spokesperson and was moved to the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs.

Especially in the context of Zhao leaving his post, some wondered why the U.S. Embassy would use phrases related to his press conferences for their new emoticons.

Although some people suggested the WeChat stickers were not launched in China with good intentions, others appreciated the humorous visuals and felt it was funny. Some also joked that America was infiltrating Chinese social media with its cultural export (“文化输出”), and others wondered if they could not also introduce some other stickers with more Chinese Foreign Ministry popular phrases on them.

A hashtag related to the topic made its rounds on Weibo on Tuesday (#美驻华大使馆上线鹰小美表情包#), but the topic suddenly was taken offline on Tuesday evening local time, along with some of the media reports about the remarkable WeChat series.

The WeChat stickers are still available for downloading by scanning the QR code below through WeChat.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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