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Mainland China’s ‘First Gay Movie’ in Cinemas Soon

Seek McCartney (寻找罗麦) is the first gay movie to be on screen in mainland China. Its release is noteworthy, especially since a popular Chinese gay TV series was recently pulled offline by censors.

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Seek McCartney (寻找罗麦) is the first gay movie to be on screen in mainland China. Its long-awaited release is noteworthy, especially since a popular Chinese gay drama was recently pulled offline by censors.

Seek McCartney, also known under the title of Looking for Rohmer (寻找罗麦), tells the story of the secret romance between a French man and a Chinese national. The movie was first presented at the 67th Cannes Festival in 2014.

The film is a China-France co-production directed by Wang Chao, who is also known for his The Orphan of Anyang. Leading actors include the French actor Jeremie Elkaim and Chinese pop singer and actor Han Geng (韩庚).

According to Chinese media platform NetEase, Wang Chao already stated on his Weibo account in August 2015 that Seek McCartney was approved by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT, China’s media watchdog). A day later, Han Geng also wrote about the “reunion with McCartney”, implicating that the movie would be in cinemas in China.

Now, six months later, the movie’s official trailer was finally released, bringing the movie back to the focus of public attention.

Although Seek McCartney officially is China’s first ‘homosexual movie’ to hit the big screen, the film’s trailer shows few signs of the story’s sexual orientation. According to Chinese online magazine QDaily, this may have been the safest option for the producers, as the State Administration recently released new regulations that forbid “homosexuality” in filmography, as it supposedly conveys “unnatural” values of love (Guangming Online).

These new regulations made international headlines when China’s popular gay-themed web series ‘Addiction‘ (上瘾) was recently pulled offline by censors due to the narrative’s sexual orientation. The show’s cancellation caused much commotion online.

Shortly before these regulations were implemented, the State Administration was sued by Chinese film director & gay activist Fan Popo, as his 2012 documentary on homosexuality Mama Rainbow (彩虹伴我心) was removed from all online video platforms by December 2014. The State Administration lost the case – a ‘historical’ verdict, according to Chinese media.

All media products, especially TV programmes, series and movies, are required to undergo censorship of the State Administration. Only when approved can the products be aired or put online.

In the end of 2014, the highly anticipated TV series The Empress of China was recalled by the State Administration shortly after broadcast, only to be released again early in 2015. Viewers noticed that the the empress showed no cleavage in the re-released version, and virtually all scenes were processed in order to be less “obscure”. The official explanation was that the State Administration had received complaints from the audience that the series was “unfit for underages”.

cleavageThe Empress of China: scene before and after State Administration processing.

Meanwhile, on Sina Weibo, Seek McCartney is already rated with 4,5 stars, with many netizens anticipating its official release: “I really look forward to this film,” one netizen comments: “not just because of the excellent actor Han Geng and his role in it, but also because of its theme – I hope it can help to promote equal love.”

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

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 and Covid19

Searching for Yue: Contact Tracing Information Exposes Sad Story Behind One Beijing Covid Case

Because Yue tested positive for Covid19, the entire country came to know the recent whereabouts of “the hardest-working man of China.”

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While being quarantined due to Covid19, he is going viral on Chinese social media. “The hardest-working Chinese man in contact tracing” has touched the hearts of many netizens, leading to public questions about the disappearance of his son – a story without a happy ending.

On January 18, one person tested positive for Covid19 in Chaoyang District, Beijing. That person, who was asymptomatic, was one of the three reported cases of Covid19 detected in the Chinese capital on Tuesday.

The patient’s contact tracing records showed that from January 1st of this year to January 18, in a time frame of 18 days, he went to many districts in Beijing and worked odd jobs all around the clock at more than twenty different construction sites throughout the city. This earned him the title of “the hardest-working Chinese man in contact tracing” (“流调中最辛苦的中国人”).

Yue went all around the city working odd jobs all around the clock.

In China News Weekly (中国新闻周刊), reporter Chao Xiang (赵翔) interviewed the Chaoyang Covid patient and provided more information about him. That article, titled “A Conversation with the ‘Hardest-Working Chinese in Contact Tracing Records'” (“对话”流调中最辛苦的中国人””) soon went viral on Chinese social media. (Pekingnology did a full translation on the article here).

Who is this hard-working and industrious man? It is the 44-year-old Mr. Yue, a migrant worker from Shandong’s Weihai who rents a tiny room in Shigezhuang for 700 yuan ($110) per month. Just as he was about to start his train journey from Beijing South Station to go home to his wife and youngest son in Weihai, anti-epidemic workers alerted him that he had tested positive for Covid19 and got him off the train.

While was immediately quarantined at a designated hospital in Beijing, his recent movements and personal story soon became a major item of discussion on WeChat and Weibo after a press conference and media release detailed his recent whereabouts (#北京朝阳无症状感染者轨迹公布#).

Although Yue formerly worked as a sailor, he is now a manual laborer in construction in Beijing. He started working in the city in search of his eldest son, who went missing at the age of 19 and who previously worked as a kitchen helper in Beijing.

Yue Yuetong (岳跃仝)

Yue’s son, Yue Yuetong (岳跃仝), allegedly complained about a stomach ache when he was working at a food factory in Rongcheng, Weihai, in the summer of 2020. He was supposed to take a bus home, but he never got on that bus and never returned home again. Besides Beijing and Rongcheng, Mr. Yue went to a least ten other cities looking for his son, always believing that he could not have gone very far and that it was possible to find him.

Authorities allegedly were not very helpful in setting up a thorough search for the then 19-year-old. Yue told China News Weekly that it took weeks before the family could officially register Yue Yuetong as a missing person. Mr. Yue also claimed that the police did not trace his phone records and video surveillance in the initial days after he went missing due to privacy reasons.

Yue tells China News Weekly (translation by Pekingnology):

I also asked in the hospital morgues. On October 12th, 2021, they [not clear who] saw me were petitioning, and told me that a corpse was of my eldest son, and asked me to go to Rongcheng Second Hospital to identify the corpse. I saw that man, whose face was hard to see but fat and round. My son is 1.74 meters tall, thin, and has a long face. I don’t think that was my son. I asked to test the bones of the body, but they weren’t willing to do that. They initially said the test would be done at Weihai Public Security Bureau which would take dozens of days. Later, it was said that the forensic doctor was on a business trip. After half a month, they/he [unclear] called me and said don’t bother them/him anymore.

My wife couldn’t stop crying when she heard that our eldest son was dead. I don’t believe that corpse was my son.

When this dead body was first discovered, I asked the police station, and they said it was not my eldest son. As soon as I began petitioning, they said it was my eldest son in order to close the case.”

All the money Yue earns has gone towards the search for his son and towards his parents who suffer from multiple health problems. The medicine and medical costs for his bedridden paralyzed father and for his mother, who recently broke her arm, are not covered by insurance and Yue does all he can to cover these for them. His wife makes a meager income and his youngest son, who is only 12, is attending junior high school.

Despite his tough life, Yue told China News Weekly he does not feel sorry for himself.

There are multiple reasons why Yue’s story struck a chord with Chinese netizens. One of the reasons is that although his story stands out, he is not the only one facing such difficulties in China today. In that regard, the responses to Yue’s story bear some resemblance to the reactions dominating social media after the publications of the essay by Fan Yusu, a female migrant worker living in Beijing.

Her story about her life and struggles with work, marriage and family became a viral hit in 2017 (read more here). At the time, commenters wrote “We are all Fan Yusu,” suggesting that Fan’s account was just one voice among thousands of migrant workers dealing with similar problems and struggles.

“Yue is not the only hard-working Chinese person,” one commenter wrote, with another person writing: “I might work even more than him.”

Numerous netizens said Yue’s story made them tear up due to his dignity and resilience, something that many people admire him for – especially at a time of Covid19.

There were also many who hoped that Yue, who received so much attention over his peculiar contact tracing records, could use his sudden, unexpected fame to his advantage to get the help of the public and police to finally find his son. The calls to conduct a massive search for Yue’s son also came with criticism for how the case was apparently handled by authorities back in 2020 and 2021.

The hashtag “Yue Yuetong Come Home” (#岳跃仝请回家#) soon went trending on Chinese social media, together with the hashtag “The Internet Helps Searching for Yue Yuetong” (#全网帮忙寻找岳跃仝#).

The missing person flyer for Yue Yuetong from 2020.

Meanwhile, the police in Rongcheng responded to the public’s questions and comments on January 20th, saying they would re-investigate to “understand” the case.

On January 21st, Weihai authorities issued a statement regarding the story. The statement explains that the Rongcheng City Public Security Bureau was notified on the evening of August 12 of 2020 by Li, Yue’s wife, that her son had gone missing earlier that day after he left work.

The police claim that their team investigated the case and tracked Yue Yuetong’s last known movements and retrieved surveillance details. After their search efforts did not result in any leads, they classified Yuetong as a missing person.

On August 26 of 2020, two weeks after Yue Yueyong went missing, the Rongcheng authorities learned of a deceased person and found a man’s body. After his DNA was compared to the DNA from Yuetong’s parents, the authorities confirmed that the remains belonged to Yue Yuetong. They also said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

According to the statement, Yue Yuetong’s parents refused to believe that the deceased man was their son. Despite repeated attempts made by the local police to communicate to the family that their ongoing requests to find their missing son were in vain, the family did not want to accept the facts. The remains have been transferred to a funeral home.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “So to summarize this, they already knew their son was dead around ten days after he went missing, but they could not accept it and traveled the entire country to look for him…I’m speechless. What a tragedy.”

“So, their son was actually already gone two years ago.. but they couldn’t identify him because he’d bee in the water and the parents did not want to believe it despite the DNA results. They kept searching for two year. How sad!”

Other people criticized the police for not apologizing to the family about the circumstances surrounding the investigation into their son’s disappearance, and also express their hope that Mr. Yue can receive psychological help at the Beijing hospital where he is still being treated for Covid.

Ironically, it was his bad luck of catching Covid19 and his remarkable contact tracing records that triggered the public’s interest and finally put an end to the long and costly search for his son.

Despite the official statement, there are still lingering questions left unanswered. Why did the police allow Mr. Yue and his wife to continue searching for their son for so long if they already knew he was dead? Why was Mr. Yue so convinced that the body that was found was not his son? How and why did Yue Yuetong die? Many of these questions might never be answered. One thing that the majority of those discussing this topic agree on is that they wish Mr. Yue a speedy recovery, hoping that he will be able to find some peace of mind after struggling for so long.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Media

Dutch Olympic Committee Warns Athletes Not To Bring Phones to China, Hu Xijin: “They’ve Watched Too Many Movies”

“These people are participating in the Winter Olympics as if they’re entering a cave with wolves and tigers.”

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News about Dutch Olympic athletes being advised by the country’s Olympic Committee not to bring their own smartphone or laptops to the Winter Olympics in China has become a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media.

On January 11, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported that NOCNSF, the umbrella organisation for sports in the Netherlands, issued a warning to partipating Dutch athletes that they should not bring their personal smartphones, tablets, or laptops with them to the Beijing Olympics to avoid Chinese espionage.

NOCNSF spokesman Geert Slot said cybersecurity was part of the risk assessment made but declined to further comment on specific measures. In the article, the advice is described as a “precautionary move” related to concerns over potential cybersecurity safety issues in China.

The Dutch CEO of security company Zerocopter, Erik Ploegmakers, calls the move a “very wise” one, referring to the difficulties of using a VPN within China and mentioning how all online traffic would flow via Chinese internet infrastructure, saying that “China is able to view and manipulate all internet traffic, ‘so you basically carry your past information with you,’ including old messages, training schedules, medical data, contact details, and photos.”

On Chinese social media site Weibo, Global Times commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进) commented on the Dutch ‘precautions.’ Until recently, Hu was also the editor-in-chief and party secretary of the state media outlet, and he has over 24 million followers on his Weibo account. He writes:

According to Dutch media reports, the Dutch Olympic Committee has called on Dutch athletes participating in next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing to leave their mobile phones and laptops at home to avoid having their personal information intercepted by Chinese surveillance systems. Last month, the Australian newsgroup quoted a Canberra security expert as saying foreign athletes’ movements and communication in China would all be monitored around the clock.

This cracks me up. These people are participating in the Winter Olympics as if they’re entering a cave with wolves and tigers. They’ve watched too many movies. Is this is how they look at China, which the IOC entrusted to serve athletes from all around the world? They must think they’re all that. Athletes are just common people once they’re off the field, what kind of intelligence value do they have? Even if a western athlete wanted to ‘defect’ and would shout out “I have information for you!”, the Chinese would probably still ask them to leave.

This entire issue reflects the degree to which Western public opinion has demonized China. It has eroded people’s common sense. How can China have the manpower and resources to build such a gigantic surveillance system? To do what? Western people are looking at China through an American lens. The Winter Olympics are mirroring the ghostly appearance of some Western extremist powers.

Ordinary Chinese people have a good impression of the Netherlands and welcome Dutch athletes to Beijing. The extremists should stop pouring cold water over the warm mutual friendship between the Dutch and Chinese people.

Hu’s post received over 7000 likes and hundreds of comments.

“Do people from around the world think we’re like North Korea or something?” one person responded. Another commenter wrote: “They’d better not come. All of our snowflakes are equipped with small 5G chips, they will be monitored as long as they participate, it’s mainly to see if they’ll pick up things to eat from the floor, to see what they do when it rains, and to check if their urine and stool is showing any irregularities and stuff.”

In other Weibo posts, users said: “I wonder what the Dutch and the Belgian people have to hide?”

The Belgian Interfederal Olympic Committee has also recommended that all Belgian athletes traveling to the Beijing Olympics leave personal laptops and smartphones at home.

The nationalistic blogger GuyanMuchan (@孤烟暮蝉), who has over 6 million Weibo fans, also responded to the issue, writing: “Ridiculous, this is just shameless. As an athlete, what kind of classified information do you have that China would steal from you? Are you all spies with a second identity?”

This is not the first time Dutch people are advised not to bring their regular smartphones or laptops with them to China. In 2018, before a Cabinet delegation went on a trade mission to China, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs also advised travelers to only bring devices without personal data to China. The same advice was also issued for those traveling to Russia, Iran, or Turkey.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

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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