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China’s Most Favorite Japanese Girl Ai Fukuhara is Getting Married

Ai Fukuhara is getting married! China’s favorite ‘Japanese doll’ and famous tennis table player is tying the knot and all of Weibo wants to know how the marriage with Taiwanese Chiang Hung-Chieh will work out.

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Ai Fukuhara is getting married! China’s favorite ‘Japanese doll’ and famous tennis table player is tying the knot and all of Weibo wants to know how the marriage with Taiwanese Chiang Hung-Chieh will work out – and whose accent is going to win.

Table tennis star Ai Fukuhara (福原愛) is getting married. According to Nikkansports, the popular Japanese athlete and Taiwanese fellow table tennis player Chiang Hung-Chieh have applied for a marriage license in Tokyo.

Although the license procedure might still take some time, fans are already celebrating the upcoming wedding. Taiwan’s Central News Agency (中央通讯社) even announced in its “important news” column that Ai Fukuhara has become Taiwan’s “daughter in law” (台湾媳妇).

Bad Match?

But so far, the upcoming wedding has not come without hurdles. Earlier this year, it was rumored that the two were not compatible because of, amongst other reasons, the huge income gap between Fukuhara and Chiang, that would allegedly hinder their relationship.

picmonkey-collage

A Japanese women’s magazine recently also revealed that the Japan Table Tennis Association discouraged the athlete from marrying because they wanted her to focus on her career.

Chiang was allegedly also deemed an undesirable future husband because he plays in a lower level than Fukuhara.

Which Accent Will Win?

But on Sina Weibo, netizens are already sending their wishes and congratulations to the new couple. Amidst all the anticipation about the couple and their marriage, people are most curious about the “encounter of accents” between the Japanese Fukuhara Ai and Taiwanese Chiang Hung-Chieh.

Chinese netizens have even started to vote on whose accent would eventually become most dominant: Fukuhara’s north-eastern accent or Chiang’s Taiwanese accent.

One of the reasons why the Japanese Ai Fukuhara is so popular in China is her fluent Chinese. She was trained in the north-eastern part of China since she was a teenager and acquired the local accent. Her husband-to-be also has a particular accent; that of his hometown in Taiwan.

Although the couple speaks the same language, they use completely different tones and expressions. For example, when annoyed by people staring at you, people from northeastern China may say: “Ni chou sha?” (你瞅啥, literally: “What the hell are you looking at?”), while in Taiwan people use the slightly softer expression: “Biao jiang la” (表酱啦, literally: “Please don’t”). (To get an idea of these two accents, see this video of Chinese online celebrity Papi Jiang.)

Little Ai

The lively discussion on the couple’s accents and their future together shows how popular Fukuhara is amongst Chinese netizens.

Fukuhara is often called ‘Ai Jiang’ by Chinese fans, which equals the Japanese endearing ‘Ai Chan’ (“Little Ai”). On Weibo, she has 2.3 million followers (@福原爱FukuharaAi), more than the leader of the Chinese table tennis team Ma Long (@captain 龙); and much more than her long-time opponent Zhang Yining (@乒乓张怡宁).

Netizens’ love for Fukuhara even goes beyond their love for national sports’ heroes. During the Rio Olympics, many Chinese netizens expressed their sympathy to Fukuhara when she was beaten 0-4 by Chinese player Li Xiaoxia (李晓霞) in the female single semi-final.

“Ai Fukuhara will get married!” one netizen says: “The couple has already gone through rain and wind, and in the end they’ll stay together. I congratulate you. And as China’s most favorite athlete, you’ve made a deep impression on us. It’s not just your cute smile, it’s also your athletic strength and your north-eastern accent that make us love you. We wish you the best.”

-By Diandian Guo

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

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Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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China Celebs

Female Comedian Yang Li and the Intel Controversy

A decision that backfired: Intel’s act of supposed ‘inclusion’ caused the exclusion of female comedian Yang Li.

Manya Koetse

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“How to look at the boycott of Yang Li?” (#如何看待抵制杨笠#) became a top trending topic on social media site Weibo on Monday after female comedian Yang Li was dismissed as the spokesperson for American tech company Intel over a controversial ad campaign.

On March 18, Intel released an ad on its Weibo account in which Yang says “Intel has a taste [for laptops] that is higher than my taste for men” (“英特尔的眼光太高了,比我挑对象的眼光都高.”)

The ad drew complaints for allegedly insulting men, with some social media users vowing to boycott the tech brand. On Sunday, Intel deleted the ad in question from its social media page and reportedly also removed Yang from her position as their brand ambassador.

The commotion over the ad had more to do with Chinese comedian Yang Li (杨笠) than with the specific lines that were featured in it.

Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence“), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.”

Since she appeared on the stand-up comedy TV competition Rock and Roast (脱口秀大会) last year, she was nicknamed the the “punchline queen” and became one of the more influential comedians in present-day China. Yang now has nearly 1,5 million fans on Weibo (@-杨笠-).

Yang Li’s bold jokes and sharp way of talking about gender roles and differences between men and women in Chinese society is one of the main reasons she became so famous. Intel surely knew this when asking Yang to be their brand ambassador.

In light of the controversy, the fact that Intel was so quick to remove Yang also triggered criticism. Some (male) netizens felt that Intel, a company that sells laptops, could not be represented by a woman who makes fun of men, while these men are a supposed target audience for Intel products.

But after Yang was removed, many (female) netizens also felt offended, suggesting that in the 21st century, Intel couldn’t possibly believe that their products were mainly intended for men (“以男性用户为主”)? Wasn’t their female customer base just as important?

According to online reports, Intel responded by saying: “We noted that the content [we] spread relating to Yang Li caused controversy, and this is not what we had anticipated. We place great importance on diversity and inclusion. We fully recognize and value the diverse world we live in, and are committed to working with partners from all walks of life to create an inclusive workplace and social environment.”

However, Intel’s decision backfired, as many wondered why having Yang as their brand ambassador would not go hand in hand with ‘promoting an inclusive social environment.’

“Who are you being ‘inclusive’ too? Common ‘confident’ men?”, one person wrote, with others saying: “Why can so many beauty and cosmetic brands be represented by male idols and celebrities? I loathe these double standards.”

“As a Chinese guy, I really think Yang Li is funny. I didn’t realize Chinese men had such a lack of humor!” another Weibo user writes.

There are also people raising the issue of Yang’s position and how people are confusing her performative work with her actual character. One popular law blogger wrote: “Really, boycotting Yang Li is meaningless. Stand-up comedy is a performance, just as the roles people play in a TV drama.”

Just a month ago, another Chinese comedian also came under fire for his work as a brand ambassador for female underwear brand Ubras.

It is extremely common in China for celebrities to be brand ambassadors; virtually every big celebrity is tied to one or more brands. Signing male celebrities to promote female-targeted products is also a popular trend (Li 2020). Apparently, there is still a long way to go when the tables are turned – especially when it is about female celebrities with a sharp tongue.

By Manya Koetse

Li, Xiaomeng. 2020. “How powerful is the female gaze? The implication of using male celebrities for promoting female cosmetics in China.” Global Media and China, Vol.5 (1), p.55-68.

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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 Celebs

The Online Hit of the China-US Meeting in Alaska: Interpreter Zhang Jing

While the China-US meeting is all the talk, it is interpreter Zhang Jing who has hit the limelight.

Manya Koetse

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It probably was not easy to translate the tough talks at the high-level meeting between the U.S. and China in Anchorage. Chinese female translator Zhang Jing became an online hit in China for remaining unflustered, graceful, and accurate.

Over the past days, the U.S.-China strategic talks in Anchorage have been a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media.

The first major U.S.-China meeting of the Biden administration ended on Friday, March 19. Despite the tense start of the meeting and some describing the talks as a “diplomatic clash,” China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪) called the meeting “frank, constructive and helpful,” New York Times reports.

While international media focused on the meeting and what their outcome means for Sino-American relations and the foreign strategies of China and the U.S., many Weibo users focused on interpreter Zhang Jing (张京) who joined the meeting.

One video of the first session of the diplomatic talks shows how Yang Jiechi starts his response to the American side at 8.30 minutes, going on for over 15 minutes until the 24.36-minute mark. Next to him, interpreter Zhang Jing is fiercely taking notes.

When Yang is finished speaking, he glances to foreign minister Wang Yi on his right to let him speak, after which Zhang says, “Shall I first translate?”

While the U.S. side was awaiting the translation, Yang then says: “Ok, you translate,” adding in English: “It’s a test for the interpreter,” after which the American side says “We’re gonna give the translator a raise!”

Zhang then goes ahead and calmly translates Yang’s entire 15-minute speech directed at American secretary Blinken and national security advisor Sullivan.

To give a speedy translation of such a lengthy off-the-record speech is seen as a sign of Zhang’s utmost professionalism as an interpreter, which many on Weibo praise. “She’s my idol,” multiple people write.

On Sunday, the hashtag “China-U.S. Talks Female Interpreter Zhang Jing” (#中美对话女翻译官张京#) had reached 200 million views.

It’s not the first time for Zhang to become an online hit. She was previously also called “the most beautiful interpreter” of the National Congress in 2013.

Zhang Jing is a graduate of the China Foreign Affairs University (外交学院) and has been working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2007.

Being an interpreter is generally regarded an exciting and attractive job by many Chinese netizens, as the career involves much traveling and international contacts. But the ability to master another language than Chinese is also often admired.

In 2016, a TV drama titled The Interpreters (亲爱的翻译官) became a major hit, featuring Chinese actress Yang Mi who plays a Chinese-French interpreter on her way to start her professional career.

“Translators are usually the ‘heroes behind the scenes’,” one commenter writes, pointing out how rare it is for an interpreter to hit the limelight like this.

“There are still people saying it’s not important to learn English,” another Weibo user writes: “But if that were true, how could we educate brilliant interpreters like Zhang Jing? How else could we quarrel with Americans at the conference table?!”

Many who write about Zhang on Weibo say that she is an example or a role model to them: “I hope that my spoken English one day would be as excellent as hers. This motivates me to try even harder.”

By Manya Koetse

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.

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

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