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Chinese People Attacked with Milk Powder in Amsterdam

Pictures and a video of Dutch men emptying boxes of milk powder over Chinese tourists in Amsterdam have become trending on Chinese social media networks Weixin and Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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Pictures and a video of Dutch men emptying boxes of milk powder over Chinese tourists in Amsterdam have become trending on Chinese social media networks Weixin and Weibo. Many netizens are angry with the men for insulting Chinese people. A commission has been set up to take legal actions against them.  

Chinese media report that two Dutch young men have recently attacked Chinese people with milk powder on the streets in Amsterdam. According to   Sina Weibo News, a Chinese netizen wrote on January 25 that two men in Amsterdam were looking out for Chinese people to pass by in the streets of Amsterdam, asking them if they wanted milk powder and then emptying a box of milk powder on them.

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According to Sina Weibo News, the attacks took place because Dutch people are not happy with Chinese people buying up milk powder in Amsterdam.

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The attacks occurred at different locations in Amsterdam, amongst others at the beginning of the Zeedijk, which is also known as Amsterdam’s ‘China Town’, and at the Stadhouderskade near the Heineken Brewery, which are both popular tourist places.

In the video, you can hear young men asking Asian-looking tourists if they want to buy some Nutrilon milk powder for twenty euros. They then proceed to throw milk powder over the tourists. “In the Netherlands, they are open about drugs and prostitution, and there is a free market, what’s the problem with buying milk powder?” one Weibo netizen wonders. “Only losers would take out their own frustration on other people like that,” another user responds. “They are only wasting milk powder like this!” one other Weibo netizen writes.

The two boys, who are named Rome Terbeek en Kenzo Hanter, have apologized for their actions in another video after their ‘prank’ caused controversy on social media in the Netherlands. In the video they say: “Hereby we would like to apologize for the prank we did in Amsterdam. We don’t have anything against Chinese or foreigners, but that is what it is made to look like now. We thought it would be a funny video and never thought it would turn out this way.” Their apology was also covered by Chinese media.

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Although the prank allegedly had no connection with Chinese buying up milk powder, Chinese media do connect this issue to earlier incidents where the ‘panic buying’ of milk powder has led to aggression, such as in last November in Rotterdam, where two Chinese got into a fight over milk powder (screenshot below).

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The boys have apologized, but the video and pictures have already become a much-discussed trending topic on Weibo under different hashtags, one being “Chinese splashed with milk powder” (#华人被泼奶粉#). Most Chinese netizens think the news has a direct connection to China’s milk powder problem, and many people are angry at the young men for insulting and bullying Chinese people this way and scold them on Weibo: “You fuckers really have a problem!” or “These fuckers really deserve a beating”, and “We should spill something over these son-of-a-bitches!” and “I only have a middle finger for you two!”

Chinese state media Xinhua and Tencent News report that the Chinese embassy hopes that legal measures will be taken against the two boys. The Chinese embassy in The Hague has stated on 27 January: “We are shocked that this nasty incident has happened in the Netherlands. We hope that the Dutch side will legally deal with this incident and that they will take the necessary measures to avoid such a thing happening again” (“我们对在荷兰发生这样的恶劣事件感到震惊,希望荷方依法处理并采取必要措施,避免此类事件再次发生”).

According to Xinhua News, Chinese media has been in touch with Dutch criminal lawyers, who think that the conduct of the two Dutch men could be classified as slander, discrimination, and bringing intentional harm to others. The Chinese community in the Netherlands has held a meeting and has decided to set up the “Dutch Overseas Chinese Rights Commission” (“荷兰华侨华人维权委员会”). They have asked the victims of the incident to come forward, as the Commission will help them in taking legal action against the men.

“This might have been just a street prank,” one netizen says: “but the issue of milk powder is a very sensitive one for Chinese people. It is just as insulting as it would be for a Muslim to be confronted with a pig’s head.”

Some examples of Chinese (state) media covering this news:
Global Times
Phoenix News
Epoch Times
China Youth
China Bridge
Sina News
China News Service
Sohu News

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Screenshot of China Bridge News, naming the two boys and quoting a social media comment of a netizen who calls himself Geert Wilders (a well-known Dutch politician) and who says: “Guys guys, why would you do this? You know Nutrilon doesn’t care about this, they make loads of money.”  He also says: “Why would you bully Chinese people? They are very well integrated in the Netherlands! They are always very calm, why don’t you dare to bully people of other nationalities?” 

– 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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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    January 28, 2016 at 11:13 am

    What makes you assume these were tourists?

    Ed

  2. Avatar

    Pepsi

    January 28, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I was so angry when I saw this I was shaking. If any country knew anything about China, the Chinese, their traditions and culture, they would not even consider such a childish move. I, myself, have had 20+ years experience of the country itself.
    Baby milk is valuable in China, the powder on their shelves holds no nutrition, not their fault, but their governments fault. The country doesn’t have such luxuries which is why milk powder is bought abroad by many parents.
    I’m surprised the Chinese tolerate us westerners still and wouldn’t blame the Chinese if they rebelled. Which they won’t because they don’t like confrontation or debate.
    The Chinese are peaceful people. For all who are from outside of China…treat the Chinese with respect and how you yourselves wish to be treated. Otherwise, LEAVE THEM ALONE AND IN PEACE!

    • Avatar

      Sander from Holland

      January 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Hmmm… I think you missed that communist part of their culture. I had to work together with a Chinese girl for a few months and I noticed her enormous shyness and she was also afraid to tell about her country. She even was afraid for repercussions, even in Holland/Netherlands for the slightest critics onto her country. For me unimaginable that this is still possible in 2016

    • Avatar

      laowai

      January 30, 2016 at 6:03 am

      @Pepsi
      This was a tasteless joke and not funny at all. But you’re really a little whiner, my god.
      I live in Shanghai and I can tell you that there are a lot of Chinese who are not peaceful. So stop crying and get a life

    • Avatar

      Jason

      May 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you for your understanding, as an exchange student in Barcelona, I am feeling shocked to see that as well. We buy the milk powder because we want our babies to grow up safely.

  3. Avatar

    LOL

    January 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Haha don’t get your panties in a bunch, it’s a tasteless joke but still pretty funny. Realize this is funny to some Dutch people as Chinese people literally fight each other over baby powder in our stores and more often then not baby powder milk is not available to Dutch people because Chinese people buy it all to resell it to China 😉

    The world would be a better place if folks wouldn’t get insulted so fast..

    • Avatar

      Sander from Holland

      January 28, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      It is literally a matter of life and dead for the Chinese, because they poison all their milk in China

    • Avatar

      A. from Groningen

      March 14, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      If this was the other way… Chinese adults throwing dirty water on Dutch tourists / Dutch students in China, you wouldn’t find it so funny. This is worse when baby milk-powder is actually a very sensitive topic in China.
      I am a Korean-Brit in the netherlands, I’ve gotten pushed off my bike while riding at times while being called a Shanghai c*nt wh*re. 🙂 I’ve had people chasing me around telling me they want to rape me :)….. because I am an asian looking woman.
      It’s not nice. It’s not funny.
      It IS insulting. And its frightening.

    • Avatar

      Bjorn

      March 15, 2016 at 5:43 am

      It’s tasteless, not funny, and uncalled for. Besides, powdered milk is scarce because factories don’t produce enough, you can’t blame Chinese people. What people do with products bought in supermarkets (use it themselves or resell) is up to themselves.

  4. Avatar

    Really?

    January 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    @Pepsi:

    The chinese people are peaceful people?
    Maybe, but tell that to the people in Tibet. They have a different experience with the Chinese.

    • Avatar

      Jason

      May 25, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Don’t mix up Chinese citizens with Chinese governments, and you do not understand the real situation on What Tibet is going through. Just like Catalonia wants independence, some people in Tibet wants independence but they could not represent the whole population of a region, what you hear and see is simply what those people wants to show.

  5. Avatar

    Maaike

    January 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    This just makes me so sad in many ways. Personally, I don’t think how anyone above the age of, let’s say, 5, could find this funny. But there’s no accounting for taste. Still, it angers me that people out of boredom spill good food, while others are starving, while at the same time being a real nuisance to the people they poke fun at. Shame on you, boys, shame on you…

  6. Avatar

    Simon

    January 28, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Reactions on a Dutch blog where this was published were all very negative. These guys have the brains of a shrimp and are not funny at all.

  7. Avatar

    Sander from Holland

    January 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I sincerely hope for this guys the Chinese laws don’t apply here in the Netherlands. I can imagine the Dutch government will be held under pressure by the CCP to punish these guys, because of the economic dependency of Holland to China. They probably won’t survive it and their families can buy their organs back…

  8. Avatar

    Peppi

    January 28, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I had to laugh at the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands in this article, they are notorious for refusing to pay their rental fee of the building, and they don’t care. But now they want justice?

  9. Avatar

    Henk

    January 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I am Dutch and there is absolutely no excuse for such behavior. Hell nobody cares if Chinese buy the milk powder especially not those two boys. They are plain and simple just morons trying to be funny to get attention. If I saw them do it I would punch them in the face until they apologized. I feel really bad for their victims. Let’s hunt them down, and hand them over to the authorities.

  10. Avatar

    Dutch J

    January 28, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    =January 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm
    Hell nobody cares if Chinese buy the milk powder especially not those two boys.=

    Oh hell yes we care. More often than not, Dutch nationals stand for an empty shelf because the milkpowder has been hamstered by the Chinese.

    The fact that babies die in China because of bad powdered milk is not our problem to begin with but becomes so because our product gets bought up in wholesale to ship it to China.

    • Avatar

      Ting

      September 20, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      I’m chinese, but I’m absolutely against the chinese people buying up milk powder in europe, no matter they’re tourists or residents. Those people have very good excuses to cover themselves up, such as: we care about our own people, or we’re doing it in legal way, not robbing or stealing, we’re buying with money! The hell they care, it’s money they are making out of, living in another country but causing problems to the local people, not trying to integrate into the country but doing such business, robbers with money. At the same time they show off on Weibo about their “happy” lives in Europe, I see these people as real losers.
      Now that I’m living in Germany myself, I’ve always planned to write one article about this phenomenon, instead of focusing on the milk powder scandle or food safety in China, I’ll write about the people who are doing this. It’s not only about milk powder, but also other baby stuff.
      I want to say to those chinese people: fingers off! (in real life I would say that in Chinese though)

  11. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    January 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    True, this punks could not care less about milk powder themselves. But the fact that they came up with this ‘prank’ does prove that the issue of milk powder and Chinese is a sensitive and controversial one.
    This recent Dutch article gives a very thorough analysis of the problem: http://www.deondernemer.nl/nieuwsbericht/38064/babymelkmaffia-deinst-nergens-voor-terug

    To me, the biggest Chinese mystery has always been that Chinese government can employ 2 million people to police the internet, but they can’t clean up an essential sector like the dairy industry.

  12. Avatar

    Sjaak

    January 29, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Ok it might have been stupid prank like most pranks are.
    Dont take it so hard, nobody got hurt and if China wants more Nutrilon than ask the producer to produce more.
    I think not long ago they decided to produce it in Germany specially for Chinese market.
    Give it some time.
    Oh and they’re €10-12 here 😉

  13. Avatar

    Richard Woltz

    January 29, 2016 at 1:22 am

    I am Dutch and think these two stupid boys are very confused about the concept of humour.

  14. Avatar

    T

    January 29, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    What a stupid behavior. In Holland and Amsterdam especially, we don’t have any problems with Asians and/or Chinese people. As a Dutchman living in Amsterdam I feel really embarrassed by this ‘joke’.

  15. Avatar

    Jan

    January 29, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    L.s.

    In any country you have scum.
    This is a Dutch guy – scum
    and an Maroccon guy – scum.

    Most people in Amsterdam are nice.
    Too bad they have not been beaten up.

    I am a 4th generation man from
    Amsterdam.

    Now fanatic Muslims are invading Holland/Europe so things will
    become much worse. I hope
    for the Chinese people to be more
    smart than Merkel and keep them out of your country. By the way.
    If YOU like these people please let us know We will be glad to send them over. We will pay the tickets.

    Take care.

    Han..

  16. Avatar

    frank man

    January 30, 2016 at 1:27 am

    We start a group on face book “NIET leuk,NOT amused,不再容忍,for the chinese communities in Holland to show they are not amused and we hope you will sign our petition too. Please support us.

    • Avatar

      laowai

      January 30, 2016 at 6:05 am

      Seriously, Frank man?
      Get a life, loser
      Lol

      • Avatar

        Walao

        July 12, 2016 at 4:26 am

        You live in Shanghai and you get your panties in a bunch over people speaking up for the chinese people? How about you get out of that country, “laowai”?

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China Arts & Entertainment

Looking Back on the 2024 CMG Spring Festival Gala: Highs, Lows, and Noteworthy Moments

Reflecting on the highs and lows of this year’s China Media Group Spring Festival Gala, the world’s most-watched television program.

Manya Koetse

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PREMIUM CONTENT

The biggest media spectacle of the Chinese New Year is the annual CMG Spring Festival Gala. The entire week, this four-hour extravaganza featuring forty-six performances has dominated social media conversations.

The 42nd edition of The CMG Spring Festival Gala was broadcasted on February 9th, celebrating the start of the Dragon Year. This year, the show reportedly attracted 679 million viewers.

The annual Spring Festival Gala by the state-run China Media Group (CMG) has become an integral part of the Lunar New Year celebrations for Chinese people since its debut in 1983. As the world’s most-watched live-broadcasted entertainment program, the Gala is now aired across dozens of channels, both in China and abroad, both on television and online.

China’s Spring Festival Gala (中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会) is commonly abbreviated to Chūnwǎn (春晚) in Chinese. Over the past week, the Chūnwǎn became a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media and dominated all trending lists during the Chinese New Year’s Eve.

The Gala, which lasts a total of four hours, shows the very best of China’s mainstream entertainment and Party propaganda and is a mix of culture, commerce, and politics. Through music, dance, art, and comedy, the event serves as a significant platform for the Party to disseminate official ideology. It is also a chance to present the nation’s top performers while showcasing digital innovations.

 

A “No-Covid”, Traditional Gala


 

The phrase “There will never be a worse, just worse than last year [中央春晚,没有最烂,只有更烂]” has become a well-known saying among viewers about the Chūnwǎn, as complaining about the show is very much part of the tradition. However, was this year really worse than last year? Not at all.

This 2024 edition was directed by Yu Lei (于蕾), who also directed the 2023 Gala. The 45-year-old female director previously also served as the general scriptwriter and overall designer for the Gala.

Not only was the director the same as last year, but the five main hosts were also exactly the same. They include Ren Luyu (任鲁豫, 1978), the TV host from Henan who has now become one of the most familiar faces on the show; Sa Beining, also known as Benny Sa (撒贝宁, 1976), who is famous for his CCTV work and for hosting the Gala regularly over the past twelve years; Nëghmet Raxman (尼格买提, 1983), a Chinese television host of Uyghur heritage who has hosted the Gala seven times since 2015; Long Yang (龙洋, 1989), a CCTV host from Hunan who presented the Gala for the third time this year; and Ma Fanshu 马凡舒 (1993), who was the youngest and newest host during the 2022 Gala and has been presenting it since.

The choice of director and presenters suggests that continuity and consistency were important for this year’s Chūnwǎn. Although the Gala’s format is always more or less the same, including songs, dances, cross-talk, sketches, traditional opera, martial arts, magic, etc., this year’s Gala stood out for sticking to tradition.

Over the past few years during the pandemic, several elements of the show were altered to adapt to the new situation. From 2021 to 2023, the show was only broadcast from the Beijing Studio and focused less on big spectacular scenes. Since 2020, the battle against Covid has also been a theme in the show. In 2020, the Gala included a segment that was broadcast live from a Wuhan hospital to show how medical staff were spending their Lunar New Year taking care of Covid patients. That was the first time since 1983 for the Gala to include a segment that was not meticulously rehearsed.

From 2021 to 2023, the nation’s battle against Covid was also a theme in songs and other segments, reflecting on the daily lives of ordinary people. In 2021, for example, Jackie Chan sang “Tomorrow Will Be Better” (明天会更好), which addressed the epidemic situation and honored all who joined in the fight against the virus.

However, the theme of Covid played no role at all anymore in this year’s Chūnwǎn, which focused entirely on celebrating the Year of the Dragon, the home, and the nation (龙行龘龘,欣欣家国). Similar to the pre-2020 Gala, this 42nd edition was broadcast not only from the Beijing venue but also included performances in four other locations: Shenyang, Changsha, Xi’an, and Kashgar. Continuity was also seen in the 46 acts of the night, as many familiar faces, such as Sun Nan (孙楠) and Han Hong (韩红), performed during the night.

 

Highlights of the 2024 Gala


 

The xiangsheng (相声) act “Director’s Worries” (“导演的心事”) was the most-watched act of the entire show according to the viewership ratings – this also relates to the time of the broadcasting. Xiangsheng is a traditional Chinese comedic performance that involves a dialogue between two performers, using rich language and many puns. This act was performed by comedians Jin Fei (金霏) and Chen Xi (陈曦). They were also joined by others, turning it into a “group xiangsheng” (群口相声) that humorously portrayed the mental strains faced by Chinese young people and served as a source for parodies and memes on social media.

Watch on Youtube here

 
The Song “Dragon” (龙), performed by famous pop singers Zhang Jie aka Jason Zhang (张杰) and Sun Nan (孙楠) was particularly popular this Gala. The song encompassed the main theme of the Dragon Year, as they sang about how a dragon lies in every Chinese person, representing the spirit and strength of the Chinese nation over the past five thousand years. This song integrated popular entertainment with the essence of the Chinese New Year, cultural heritage, and national pride, making it the perfect anthem for the Spring Festival Gala. One Weibo post by Zhang Jie about his performance received nearly 167,000 comments and over 176,000 shares.

Watch on Youtube here

 
The performance of “Koi Carp” (锦鲤) featuring lead dancer Hua Xiaoyi (华宵一) and the Beijing Dance Academy (北京舞蹈学院) was another standout moment of the Gala. The ‘painting’ dance “Only This Green” (只此青绿) stole the spotlight in 2022, while the ’embroidery’ dance “Splendid” (锦绣) was one of the highlights of the show in 2023. Continuing the tradition of presenting top-notch, artistic dance that merges tradition with technology, the Koi Carp dance had a similar charm, with dancers suspended on spring ropes performing an exquisite aerial dance that made them look like graceful fish underwater.

Watch on Youtube here

 
The creative act “Start Something New” (别开生面) directed by the renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) was a highlight in the show for its originality. The act, which combined cooking, dancing, and singing, presented various Lunar New Year customs and food cultures from different regions in China. Besides directing films, Zhang Yimou also has a lot of experience as a creative director of major shows, including the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, the 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, and the outdoor night show Impression Sanjie Liu.

Watch on Youtube here

 
The Xi’an special segment “Poem for the Landscape of Chang’an” (山河诗长安) performed by Zhang Ruoyun (张若昀), Tang Shiyi (唐诗逸), Zhu Tiexiong (朱铁雄) PACT (派克特), Yang Li (杨力) and conductor Sun Yifan (孙一凡), was among the most spectacular ones of the night. This was an ode to Xi’an and Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai. Filled with lion and dragon performances, opera, rap, dance, and specially arranged music by the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, the segment included a virtual version of Li Bai joining the spectacle. On social media, netizens praised the performance and posted many gifs of the Chinese actor Zhang Ruoyun together with the virtual version of the classical poet Li Bai.

Watch on Youtube here

 

The ‘Lows’ of the 2024 Gala


 

The various xiaopin (小品, skits) were not very well-received. Over the past few years, the Gala’s dance and song performances have actually become among the most beloved acts – far more popular than the xiaopin, which did not get much positive feedback this year at all. Some people said they just “didn’t get” the humor or that the sketches were just not entertaining enough.

 
The song “Unforgettable Night” (难忘今宵) was the least viewed part of the show according to viewership ratings, and it marked a departure from tradition in a significant way. Since the 1980s, the final song of the Spring Festival Gala has always been “Unforgettable Night,” sung by Li Guyi (李谷一). Li Guyi rose to fame with the song “Homeland Love” (乡恋) during China’s Reform and Opening Up era, and her songs evoke nostalgia for many viewers. She made her first appearance at the Gala in 1983 and became the most frequent performer at the event. Due to her recovery from Covid in the hospital, she was unable to perform at last year’s Chūnwǎn, and her absence from this year’s show was not only a significant disappointment for many but was also seen as the end of an era. Additionally, many people commented that they did not appreciate the new interpretation of the traditional song.

Watch on Youtube here

 
The PLA song “Decisive Victory” (决胜) drew attention from Taiwanese media outlets, highlighting it as a controversial moment of the Gala. The performance of this military song, delivered by artists from the PLA Cultural and Artistic Center, featured soldiers clad in combat gear marching and dancing on stage, while the backdrop displayed images of rockets, tanks, and other war-like scenes. Taiwanese media framed the song within the context of mainland China’s military threats against Taiwan. Some Weibo commentators also interpreted the performance in this light, particularly noting the sequence where singers from Taiwan and mainland China first sang the song “Etiquette” (礼序) together just before the People’s Liberation Army performed the military song. This was seen as a statement of “diplomacy comes before violence” (“先礼后兵”).

Watch on Youtube here

 

The Noteworthy


 

The magic show “Guarding the New Year Together” (守岁共此时) performed by Liu Qian (刘谦) created quite a buzz. During a card trick involving the audience and Gala host Nëghmet Raxman, it seemed like Raxman’s cards didn’t match as intended. Although everyone was supposed to have matching cards, Raxman’s expression revealed that his two cards did not match. This led to much banter online, and Nëghmet Raxman – and his nervous expression – became a trending topic.

Watch on Youtube here

 
The song “Climbing Spring Mountain” (上春山) performed by Wei Chen (魏晨), Wei Daxun (魏大勋), and Bai Jingting (白敬亭) became one of the most discussed acts in the week following the Gala after a rehearsal video was posted online and netizens noticed inconsistencies in the singers’ attire and positions on stage. It was rumored that Bai Jingting may have intentionally vied for a more prominent position to attract more attention on stage, resulting in choreographic asymmetry and some apparent confusion during the song. One important reason why the main rehearsal video triggered controversy is because a tape of the official rehearsal always runs concurrently with the live broadcast, allowing producers to seamlessly switch to the taped version in the event of a problem or disruption without TV audiences noticing. But because Bai changed his outfit, wearing black while the others wore white, and because he did not give up his main spot during the performance, it might have been impossible for producers to switch to a rehearsed version of the song (even though the lip-syncing during the performance was completely out of sync).

Watch on Youtube here

 
● The song “A Friend Like You” (像你这样的朋友) attracted a lot of attention on Weibo and beyond this week as it was performed by the so-called “0713 Super Boys,” including Wang Zhengliang (王铮亮), Chen Chusheng (陈楚生), Allen Su (苏醒), Zhang Yuan (张远), Lu Hu (陆虎), and Wang Yuexin (王栎鑫). In 2022, these once nearly ‘forgotten’ singers made a remarkable comeback through the reality TV hits Welcome to the Mushroom House (欢迎来到蘑菇屋) and Go for Happiness (快乐再出发). They initially gained fame in 2007 after participating in the singing contest Super Boy but gradually faded into obscurity in the years following their initial success. Their gala performance marks their ultimate comeback.

Watch on Youtube here

 
“Belle” (美人) from the French musical Notre Dame de Paris was performed at the Gala in French by various French and Chinese performers, including Angelo Del Vecchio and Liao Changyong. “Who would have ever expected for Notre Dame de Paris to be performed at the Chūnwǎn in French?” one commenter wrote. The Gala provided some subtitles during the song to convey the general idea of the song. Although the Gala usually incorporates an international element, this was the first time for a song to be fully sung in French. The song was presented in the context of China and France celebrating their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

Watch on Youtube here

 
● Dilraba Dilmurat (丽热巴) in “Dances of Xinjiang” (舞乐新疆) was praised by commenters as the most beautiful performer of the night. The Chinese actress of Uyghur ethnicity showcased her dancing skills during the Kashgar segment of the evening. Not only was her performance notable for its beauty and grace, but it also garnered attention online due to a video recorded by an audience member showing Dilmurat slipping and falling on her bum during the show, after which she promptly got up and continued. After all, the show must go on!

Watch the full performance on Youtube here

Want to know more about the previous editions of the Spring Festival Gala? Also check out our articles below:

– 2023: Behind the Short Feature Film of the Spring Festival Gala
– 2023: Top 5: The Highlights of China’s 2023 CGM Spring Festival Gala
– 2023: Watching ‘Chunwan’: Liveblog CMG Spring Festival Gala
– 2022: Chunwan 2022: The CMG Spring Festival Gala Liveblog by What’s on Weibo
– 2021: Spring Festival Gala Draws Criticism for Gendered Jokes
– 2021: The Chunwan Liveblog: Watching the 2021 CMG Spring Festival Gala
– 2020: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2020
– 2019: The CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2019 Live Blog
– 2018: About the CCTV Spring Festival Gala’s ‘Racist’ Africa Comedy Sketch
– 2018: CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2018 (Live Blog)
– 2017: The Best and the Worst of CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017
– 2017: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017 Live Blog
– 2016: CCTV’s New Year’s Gala 2016 Liveblog

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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China History

A Chinese Christmas Message: It’s Not Santa Bringing Peace, but the People’s Liberation Army

On social media, Chinese official channels are not celebrating a Merry Christmas but instead focus on a Military Christmas.

Manya Koetse

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It is not Santa bringing you peace and joy, it is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Chinese state media and other influential social media accounts have been pushing an alternative Christmas narrative this year, which makes it very clear that this ‘Merry Christmas’ is brought by China’s military forces, not by a Western legendary figure.

On December 24, Party newspaper People’s Daily published a video on Weibo featuring various young PLA soldiers, writing:

Thank you for your hard work! Thanks to their protection, we have a peaceful Christmas Eve. They come from all over the country, steadfastly guarding the front lines day and night. “With our youth, we defend our prosperous China!” Thank you, and salute!

People’s Daily post on Weibo, December 24 2023.

The main argument that is propagated, is that this time in China should not be about Christmas and Santa Claus, but about remembering the end of the Korean War and paying tribute to China’s soldiers.

This narrative is not just promoted on social media by Chinese official media channels, it is also propagated in various other ways.

One Weibo user shared a photo of a mall in Binzhou where big banners were hanging reminding people of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War: “December 24 is not about Christmas Eve, but about the victory at Chosin Reservoir.”

Mall banners reminding Chinese that December 24 is about commemorating the end of the Second Phase Offensive (photo taken at 滨州吾悦广场/posted by 武汉潘唯杰).

Another blogger posted a video showing LED signs on taxis, allegedly in the Hinggan League in Inner Mongolia, with the words: “December 24 is NOT Christmas Eve, it is the military victory of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir” (“12.24不是平安夜,是长津湖战役胜利日”).

One social media video showed a teacher at a middle school in Chongqing also emphasizing to her students that “it’s not Father Christmas who brings us a happy and peaceful life, but our young soldiers!”

In the context of the Korean War (1950-1953), December 24 marks the conclusion of the Second Phase Offensive (1950), which was launched by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army against the United Nations Command forces–primarily U.S. and South Korean troops.

The Chinese divisions’ surprise attack countered the ‘Home-by-Christmas’ campaign. This name stemmed from the UN forces’ belief that they would soon prevail, end the conflict, and be home well in time to celebrate Christmas. Instead, they were forced into retreat and the Chinese reclaimed most of North Korea by December 24, 1950.

The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, also known as the the Battle at Lake Changjin, is part of this history. The battle began on November 27 of 1950, five months after the start of the Korean War. The 2021 movie Changjin Lake (长津湖/The Battle at Lake Changjin) provides a Chinese perspective on the lead-up and unfolding of this massive ground attack of the Chinese 9th Army Group, in which thousands of soldiers died.

Especially in recent years and in light of the launch of the blockbuster movie, there is an increased focus on the Chinese attack at Chosin as a glorious victory and strategic success for turning around the war situation in Korea and defending its own borders, underscoring the military strength of the People’s Republic of China as a new force to be reckoned with (read more here).

This Chinese Christmas narrative of honoring the PLA coincides with a series of popular social media posts from bloggers facing criticism for celebrating Christmas in China.

One of them is Liu Xiaoguang (刘晓光 @_恶魔奶爸_, 1.7 million followers), who wrote on December 25:

Some people are criticizing me for celebrating Christmas Eve, because, by celebrating a foreign festival, I would be unpatriotic and forgetful of our martyrs. What can I say, in our family Christmas must be a big deal, even if I don’t come home it must be celebrated, because my mom is a Christian, and she’s very devout (..) So you see, on one hand I should promote traditional Chinese virtues, and show filial piety, on the other hand I should be patriotic and not celebrate foreign festivals.”

Meanwhile, other popular bloggers stress the importance of remembering China’s military heroes during this time. Influential media blogger Zhang Xiaolei (@晓磊) posted: “It’s not Santa Claus who gives you peace, it’s the Chinese soldiers! #ChristmasEve” (“给你平安的不是圣诞老人,而是中国军人!🙏#平安夜#”). With his post, he added various pictures showing Chinese soldiers frozen in the snow as also depicted in the Battle at Lake Changjin movie.

Throughout the years, Christmas has become more popular in China, but as a predominantly atheist country with a small proportion of Christians, the festival is more about the commercial side of the holiday season including shopping and promotions, decorations, entertainment, etc.

Nevertheless, Christmas in China is generally perceived as “a foreign” or “Western” festival, and there have been consistent concerns that the festivities associated with Christmas clash with traditional Chinese culture.

In the past, these concerns have led to actual bans on Christmas celebrations. For instance, in 2017, officials in Hengyang were instructed not to partake in Christmas festivities and several universities throughout China have previously cautioned students against engaging in Christmas-related activities.

Chinese political and social commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进) also weighed in on the issue. In his December 24 social media column, the former Global Times editor-in-chief wrote that there is no problem with Christmas Eve and the Second Phase Offensive victory day both receiving attention on the same day. Even if the younger generations in China view Christmas more as a commercial event rather than a religious one, it’s understandable for businesses to capitalize on this period for additional revenue. He wrote:

In this era of globalization, holiday cultures inevitably influence each other. The Chinese government does not actively promote the rise of “Western holidays” for its own reasons, but they also have no intention to “suppress foreign holidays.” Some Chinese celebrate “Western holidays” and it is their right to do, they should not face criticism for it.”

Although many Chinese netizens post different viewpoints on this year’s Christmas debate, there are some who just don’t understand what all the fuss is about. “December 24 can be both Christmas Eve, and it can be Victory Day. It’s not like we need to pick one over the other. We are free to choose whatever.”

By Manya Koetse

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