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Chunwan 2022: The CMG Spring Festival Gala Liveblog by What’s on Weibo

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As we are leaving the Year of the Ox and entering Year of the Tiger, it’s time for the 40th edition of the Spring Festival Gala! Watch the Gala together with What’s on Weibo here and follow our liveblog to keep up with what’s happening on screen and on social media (this liveblog has now closed, read the overview below!)

Aanother year has flown by and despite many changes, we can always count on China’s annual Spring Festival Gala. This 40th edition of the festival is the third one to take place in the Covid era.

The Gala will broadcasted on TV and live-streamed via various channels on January 31st, 20.00 pm China Standard Time. So turn on your TV and tune into CCTV, live stream from Weibo, watch on YouTube, or head to the CCTV website. We will be live-blogging on this page here and you can scroll & watch at the same time from this page.

 

Very Brief Introduction to the Spring Festival Gala

 

China’s Spring Festival Gala (中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会), commonly abbreviated to chūnwǎn (春晚), is the annual TV gala celebrating the start of the new year. Broadcasted since 1983, it is not just the biggest live televised event in China, it is even among the most-watched shows in the world. The show reached a record 1.27 billion viewers around the globe in 2021.

Previously known as the ‘CCTV Gala,’ it is officially presented as the ‘CMG Spring Festival Gala’ since 2020: it is hosted by China Media Group (CMG), the predominant state media company founded in 2018 that holds China Central Television, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

The Gala is an important Chinese media moment and significant cultural event organized and produced by the state-run broadcaster, overseen by the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), and aired across dozens of channels. It shows the very best of China’s mainstream entertainment and Party propaganda and is a mix of traditional culture, (digital) commerce, and politics. It is an opportunity for the Party to communicate official ideology, it is also a chance to present the nation’s top performers.1

Since recent years, it has also become a platform to showcase China’s innovative digital technologies. In 2015 the show first featured the exchange of virtual hongbao, red envelopes with money, which WeChat users could obtain while shaking their phones during specific moments in the show. Such marketing strategies have drawn in much younger viewer audiences than before. In 2021, the Gala explicitly presented itself as a “tech innovation event” by using 8K ultra high-tech definition video and AI+VR studio technologies and super high definition cloud communication technology to coordinate performances on stage.

The show lasts a total of four hours, from 8pm to 1am Beijing time, and usually has around 30-40 different acts, from dance to singing and acrobatics. The acts that are both most-loved and most-dreaded are the comic sketches (小品) and crosstalk (相声); they are usually the funniest, but also convey the most political messages.

As viewer ratings of the Gala in the 21st century have skyrocketed, so has the critique on the show – which seems to be growing year on year. According to many viewers, the spectacle generally is often “way too political” with its display of communist nostalgia, including the performance of different revolutionary songs such as “Without the Communist Party, There is No New China” (没有共产党就没有新中国).

For this same reason, the sentence “There’ll never be a worst, just worse than last year” (“央视春晚,没有最烂,只有更烂”) has become a well-known idiom connected to the Gala.

If you want to know more about the previous editions, we also live-blogged
– 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: CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2018 (Live Blog)
– 2017: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017 Live Blog
– 2016: CCTV’s New Year’s Gala 2016 Liveblog

 

Liveblog CMG Spring Festival Gala 2022

 

Underneath here you will see our liveblog being updated. Leave the page open and you’ll see the new posts coming in, there should be a ‘ping’ too with every update.

Update: this liveblog is now closed, check below for an overview of the entire show.

 
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The original liveblog was done via a third-party app. The original texts and images are copied below for reference. If there are links to particular segments of the show, they have been added later. The timestamp (in Beijing time) refers to the last moment that post was updated.

Want to directly check out some Spring Festival Gala highlights on YouTube?

We recommend:

The ‘painting’ dance: ‘Only This Green (只此青绿)

The dancing elephant song: ‘The Herd Returns With Spring’ (万象回春)

Creative music, dance, poetry, and painting: “Reminiscence of the South” (忆江南)

Tai Chi up in the sky: ‘Flowing Water’ (行云流水)

The space-themed children performance: ‘Star Dreams’ (星星梦)

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What can we expect?

Jan 31 19:30

It’s almost time for the 40th edition of the Spring Festival Gala to begin. The fifth and final rehearsal of the entire event took place on January 29th. Even if something goes wrong tonight, the tape of the official rehearsal runs together with the live broadcast, so that in the event of a problem or disruption, the producers can seamlessly switch to the taped version without TV audiences noticing anything.

The Spring Festival Gala usually always focuses on the themes that matter to Chinese authorities, as the event is an important moment to communicate official ideology.

The themes and topics that mattered last year were China’s battle against COVID19, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s eradication of poverty, China’s Space Program, and the upcoming Winter Olympics.

This year most of these themes will probably again also play an important role this year, together with rural revitalization and China’s unity, with a special focus on Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Also, we’re pretty sure that Olympic mascots Bing Duan Duan (“Bing Dwen Dwen”) and Xue Rong Rong (“Shuey Rhon Rhon”) will show up.

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Less Focus on Celebrity Culture

Jan 31 19:35

After a year of celebrities being canceled and crackdowns shaking the Chinese entertainment industry to the core, this year’s Spring Festival Gala will be less focused on popular idols of the internet era and more focused on performing art talents and national heroes.

Chinese state outlet Global Times stressed the idea that those performing in the Chinese New Year Gala should “act as a role model to viewers.”

Many of the people who have an impeccable track record are the older performing artists (those who never had to deal with the social media audiences), so the average age of the artists tonight might be a bit higher up the age ladder than usual.

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Most Anticipated Acts?

Jan 31 19:50

One of the most anticipated acts for tonight is the dance play “Only This Green” (只此青绿) inspired by the famous handscroll “One Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains.” In this performance, choreography twin stars Zhou Liya and Han Zhen will highlight the aesthetics of traditional Chinese painting.

The performance of the official Winter Olympics theme song is also attracting some attention.

Overall, the schedule of tonight’s show is looking fairly traditional, although there will be plenty of tech on display too; a 720-degree dome made of LED screens is set up for an immersive viewing experience, and the latest technology like AR, XR, and 8K will also be used.

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Liu Zhen: Chief Director

Jan 31 19:57

This year’s director of the Spring Festival Gala is Liu Zhen (刘真) is the Deputy Director of the CCTV arts channel. He is known for previously directing the 2009 anniversary night of the Great Sichuan earthquake and he also directed the 2019 Spring Festival Gala themed around “New China.”

Noteworthy enough, it seems that this year’s Gala is only broadcasted from CCTV 1 Beijing Studio. Usually, there are also three or four other sub venues in other parts of China. Perhaps the Covid19 situation has been a contributing factor to deciding to let this year’s show only take place in one location.

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We’re starting!

Jan 31 20:05

In this opening act, Happy and Auspicious Year (欢乐吉祥年), three major Wuhan art groups are on stage together with many familiar faces, including the 87-year old actress Tao Yuling, we just saw Chinese director Zhang Yimou and acclaimed actor Ge You appearing in the intro, and there are many others together with some veteran performers who are being honored on stage today.

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Tonight’s hosts

Jan 31 20:06

These are tonight’s hosts:

Ren Luyu (任鲁豫, 1978): Ren Luyu is a famous Chinese television host from Henan who is a very familiar face for viewers. He presented the Gala five times since 2010.

Li Sisi (李思思, 1986): Li Sisi is a Chinese television host and media personality who is actually most known for her role as host of the Gala since 2012. This is the fifth time Li Sisi is presenting the Gala. She used to be the youngest host, but this year, Ma Fanshu is taking her place as the youngest host.

Nëghmet Raxman (尼格买, 1983): Together with Ren Luyu, Raxman is known as one of the veteran Gala hosts of the past decade. This is the seventh time for him to present the event since 2015. Nëghmet Raxman is a Chinese television host, born and raised in Ürümqi, Xinjiang.

Sa Beining (撒贝宁, 1976): Also known as Benny Sa, SA Beining previously presented the Gala in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. He is a Chinese television host known for his work for CCTV.

Ma Fanshu (马凡舒, 1993): Ma Fanshu is the youngest and newest host in this year’s Gala. She is a sports program host who has also been called “the most beautiful host of CCTV.”

It’s noteworthy that renowned CCTV host Zhu Jun still has not returned to the Gala. The presenter was accused of sexually assaulting an intern in 2018 and hasn’t been a host at the Gala since. Although the internet lost the sexual harassment lawsuit against Zhu Jun, he still hasn’t reappeared.

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Sense of the Times 时代感

Jan 31 20:10

This song is performed by the Chinese actor and singer Deng Chao (邓超) together with China’s ‘Supergirl’ Li Yuchun (李宇春) and Yi Yang Qianxi (Jackson Yee), the youngest member of the Chinese boy band TFBoys and super popular solo artist.

On stage, we also see dancer Zhang Yin (张引) together with various dance troupes.

Tonight we’ll see other members of the TFBoys come up in other acts as solo artists rather than as a group.

Link to this performance here.

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Skit: Father and Son

Jan 31 20:15

This is the first sketch comedy or short play of the night, called xiaopin 小品 in Chinese. Traditionally, the xiaopin is the best-received type of performance of the Gala for evoking laughter among the audiences. The various xiaopin shows are filled with puns, funny lines, and plot twists to entertain the viewers.

Over recent years, these comic acts performed during the Spring Festival Gala have come to center more on social issues such as environmental protection, corruption, social morals, migrant workers, and family affairs – including those concerning love and marriage. These are not always appreciated as much by viewers.

Meanwhile, on Chinese social media, some netizens are wondering who this kid is who was on stage earlier because he seemed a bit uncomfortable and awkward. But wouldn’t you too?! Over a billion people are watching this show!

Link to this performance here.

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The ‘Awkward Kid’

Jan 31 20:20

Look son, you’re a meme now!

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Pressured by the Parents

Jan 31 20:25

Inevitably, this skit touches upon the issue of Chinese parents pressuring their kids to settle down and have kids. This is already leading to online discussions as viewers often think the Gala has skits that are insulting to women or just embarrassing. In this case, the grandpa can’t wait for a grandkid, he even thinks his future grandchild is already calling him from the womb!

Link to this performance here.

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The Herd Returns With Spring

Jan 31 20:36

After the night’s first public announcement video – which was actually very well made with the tiger jumping through all the scenes -, we are now at the next segment. This is a musical skit (音乐短剧) focused on how nature blossoms with the return of spring (万象回春). It is performed by Chinese mainland singers Sha Baoliang (沙宝亮) and Wang Li (王莉) together with dancer and singer Liu Jia (刘迦).

The highlight of this act is the dancing elephants. They’re not real, obviously.

Last year, a herd of wild Asian elephants wandered hundreds of miles across southern China. They became a top trending topic on Chinese social media as netizens followed their journey. In September 2021, the elephants returned home after covering a total distance of 1,300 km.

Before tonight’s show, a creator already highlighted the elephants in the countdown program.

Link to this performance here.

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Spring Breeze

Jan 31 20:38

Chinese soprano Yin Xiumei (殷秀梅) and contemporary opera singer Yan Weiwen (阎维文) perform the song Ten Thousand Miles of Spring Wind (春风十万里), which was previously performed at the 2020 Gala by Zhang Ye (张也) and Liu Tao (刘涛).

Link to this performance here.

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21 Weibo Accounts Suspended For ‘Ruining The Holiday Spirits’ During Lunar New Year

Jan 31 20:40

We’re seeing loads of criticism on the Gala already. Online criticism and making fun of the Gala is a big part of the ‘Chunwan Experience’ ever since the social media era. But Weibo censors might be stricter this year.

On January 22, Weibo issued an indirect warning to netizens criticizing the festive annual Chinese New Year Galas by suspending 21 Weibo users spreading negativity regarding broadcasted festival programs and their performances.

According to Weibo Management (@微博管理员), there are individual netizens who are using televised Lunar New Year celebrations to condemn and slander Chinese performers and Chinese media. In doing so, they allegedly “deliberately destruct the warm and peaceful holiday spirit.”

“In times of pandemic, the Spring Festival needs positivity and warmth,” Weibo Management stated.

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Comical Sketch: To Return or Not?

Jan 31 20:45

This is the sixth time for Chinese comedian Shen Teng (沈腾) and Ma Li (马丽) to be on stage together at the Spring Festival Gala. Besides that, you also might know them because Shen Teng, one of China’s top comedian actors, and the famous Ma also played together in the 2015 hit movie Goodbye Mr. Loser (夏洛特烦恼).

On stage with them are Chang Yuan (常远), Ai Lun 艾伦, Wang Chengsi (王成思) and Xu Wenhe (许文赫).

This act is about people who have the means to repay debts they owe but choose not to, also referred to as 老赖 (laolai). This guy is so cheap he even offers a drink of water from the heating system.

By the way, did you know you can even watch the Gala from WeChat? It seems there are more ways and channels to watch every year. The Gala already reached a record 1.27 billion viewers last year.

Link to this performance here.

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Heads Up! Only This Green (只此青绿)

Jan 31 21:04

This is a much-anticipated dance performance by Chinese star dancer Meng Qingyang (孟庆旸) together with the China Oriental Performing Arts Group. Meng also performed the dance Jasmine in last year’s Gala.

“Only This Green” (只此青绿) is inspired by the famous handscroll “One Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains.” In this performance, choreography twin stars Zhou Liya and Han Zhen will highlight the aesthetics of traditional Chinese painting.

The 11.9-meter (39 ft)-long scroll A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains by Wang Ximeng comes from the Song Dynasty and it has been described as one of the greatest works of Chinese art. The painting is in the permanent collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Link to this performance here.

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Tai Chi: “Flowing Water”

Jan 31 21:10

Chinese Olympic athlete Yang Shunhong (杨顺洪), Tai Chi World Champion Liang Bifeng (梁壁荧) and Tai Chi master Yang Dezhan (杨德战) were just featured in this impressive Tai Chi performance recorded on dazzling heights in Shanghai. (Correction > recorded from the three highest buildings in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chongqing!)

Link to video: ‘Flowing Water’ (行云流水)

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Chunwan Shopping

Jan 31 21:21

Over recent years, it’s become more common for e-commerce sellers to immediately jump in on the hype of what performers are wearing to sell the same or similar clothes and accessories online. In this way, viewers can watch the show while also eating and shopping, and chatting on social media at the same time!

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喜上加喜

Jan 31 21:23

In this comic sketch, we see Chinese comedian actress and film director Jia Ling together with award-winning actress Zhang Xiaofei. These two also worked together in the super popular 2021 movie ‘Hi, Mom‘. This time they are on stage as a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Since they’re both very popular, many Weibo users also said they were looking forward to seeing this sketch – especially because there was a scene in which Jia Ling, who played Zhang’s daughter in the movie, said: “Next life, let me be your mother.”

Meanwhile, some on social media are wondering if Jia is wearing the same outfit every year.

Link to this performance here.

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Uhm…

Jan 31 21:29

Some very quick viewers were able to capture Chinese actor Chen Baoguo (陈宝国) picking his nose with his mask on while sitting in the audience.

By the way, this is the second year the audience is wearing a face mask. In 2020, when Wuhan was first facing the Covid19 outbreak, the audience was not wearing face masks yet. 2021 was the first year.

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Here’s Han Hong Again

Jan 31 21:33

Singer Han Hong (1971) is one of China’s most famous pop singers and she is a regular at the Spring Festival Gala. For decades, the singer of mixed Tibetan and Han ethnicity was a member of a performing arts troupe within the People’s Liberation Army.

Tonight, she is singing the song So Many People in This World (这世界那么多人). She seemed to have some tears streaming down her face during her performance.

Link to performance here.

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Peking Opera

Jan 31 21:45

Every year you’ll see a Peking Opera act passing by during the Gala. This year, it is a mix of martial art acts together with singing. The performers are from all generations, from those born in the 1930s to those born in the early 2000s.

Link to this performance here.

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About that Sweater..

Jan 31 21:47

The sweater worn in the ‘debt dodger’ comic skit earlier tonight might have looked cheap, it’s actually $260! Gala viewers who liked the sweater can buy it online straight away.

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Grabbing Red Envelopes with JD

Jan 31 21:48

After the Gala partnered with Tencent, Kuaishou, and Baidu in previous years, they’ve now partnered up with e-commerce giant JD.com. Throughout the show, you’ll see various ‘media moments’ during which viewers can ‘catch’ red envelopes.

Actually, the Gala became especially linked to social media it first featured this kind of exchange of ‘hongbao’, red envelopes with money, which is a Chinese New Year’s tradition. In 2015, for the first time, viewers were able to receive virtual ‘hongbao’ as part of a cooperation between CCTV and WeChat. WeChat users shook their phones 11 billion times that night in order to ‘grab’ the money. These kinds of campaigns drew in much more young viewers – the Gala was previously viewed as something for older audiences – although it still might be, social media has helped get the younger viewers involved, too.

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“Sending Out Red Envelopes”

Jan 31 21:57

This is another comical sketch, titled Sending Out Red Envelopes (发红包) featuring some well-known comedians including Jia Bing.

This skit is another one focused on money: “You’d almost think that the director still needs to get his money back from someone,” some Weibo users are joking, since money seems to come up a lot as a theme in tonight’s comedy.

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Happy Vibes

Jan 31 22:09

Next up, there are some happy vibes with Da Zhangwei (大张伟) and Wang Mian (王勉) in this “music talk show” (“音乐脱口秀”) segment.

You might know Da Zhangwei as ‘Wowkie Zhang’ from the Sunshine Rainbow White Pony song. Attention was drawn to the song in the West when internet users thought that the chorus of the song, where Wowkie Zhang repeats the lyrics “nèi nèi ge nèi nèi nèi ge nèi ge nèi nèi,” was racist. But ‘nèi ge‘ is actually a filler word in Chinese (like ‘like’).

Link to this performance here.

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Magic Act

Jan 31 22:21

Usually, you’d expect magic performances to come a bit later in the show, but here we are with Chinese magician Daly Tang (邓男子). We’re halfway through the show.

This act is not received well on social media, with many saying this can’t even be called magic. Chinese actress being used as a ‘prop’ for the act is trending at this time.

Link to this performance here.

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乳虎啸春

Jan 31 22:25

There are martial arts at the festival every year, but this performance is a bit special since it combines comedy and martial arts and also is performed by many younger performers from the Henan Shaolin Tugou School of Martial Arts.

It is also a special performance because it combines martial arts with humor, whereas these kinds of performances are usually more serious.

According to one of the coaches of the children, the students practiced their facial expressions in the mirror every day as part of their homework. They also looked at film and television materials to learn from.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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“Happy Dialect”

Jan 31 22:39

This ‘crosstalk’ performance features xiangsheng actors Jiang Kun and Dai Zhicheng. Xiangsheng (相声) or crosstalk is a traditional Chinese comedic performance that involves a dialogue between two performers, using rich language and many puns.

Meanwhile, presenter Sa Beining is going viral for his peculiar role in the magic act.

Link to this performance here.

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“Star Dreams”

Jan 31 22:45

Every year, there’s always one song dedicated to children and it’s often all over the place. In the past, we’ve seen dancing panda’s and dogs, flowers, and even swinging broccoli on stage. Here we see the Air Force Blue Sky Children’s Art Troupe on stage together with Zhao Yixi (赵芸熙) in this beautiful space-themed performance.

The kids’ performance “Star Dreams” also contained a special surprise: the little girl showing up at the end is actually the little daughter of female Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping, who is now on the 6-month Shenzhou-13 mission. She asked her mum to bring her back a star.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Yunnan Group Dance 摆出一个春天

Jan 31 22:48

This performance showcases the traditional folk dances from Lancang Lahu Autonomous County, located in the southwestern part of Yunnan province (not too far from the Myanmar border).

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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“Rest Area” Outside of the Hospital

Jan 31 23:00

Another comical skit, titled ‘Rest Area Story’ (休息区的故事), is performed by Guo Donglin (郭冬临), Shao Feng (邵峰), Han Yunyun (韩云云), Huang Yang (黄杨), Jiang Lilin (姜力琳), Zhang Dabao (张大宝).

Guo Donglin is notable for performing xiangsheng and sketch comedy and has appeared at the Gala for many years.

In this performance, we see a couple, who are both working on the frontlines of the epidemic, arguing together.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Sanxingdui Relics Ceremony and Dance

Jan 31 23:14

Chinese director Zhang Guoli is coming on stage now for this special ceremony that is all about the relics that were unearthed in southwest China earlier in 2021. A gold mask dating back over 3,000 years was among hundreds of relics uncovered from a series of sacrificial pits in southwest China. The finds were made at Sanxingdui, a 4.6-square-mile archeological site outside Chengdu.

Zhu Fengwei (朱凤伟) and Wang Xi (王西) perform this creative dance performance titled Golden Mask, of course referring to the special artifact found at Sanxingdui.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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ShaLaLaLa Song

Jan 31 23:17

Canto-pop is here! The singers performing this Shalalala song are all established names from Hong Kong. There’s Alan Tan, a big name in the Cantopop scene of the 1980s. There’s Kenny Bee who has been in the entertainment industry for at least three decades. We also see Bennett Pang, Anthony Chan, and Bingo Tso.

Together, these artists once were in the Hong Kong English pop band The Wynners, which became one of the most popular teen idol groups in Hong Kong during the 1970s.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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True Love Dance

Jan 31 23:22

The China Acrobatic Troupe is on stage to perform the True Love Dance (真爱起舞). Singing are Chinese actors and singers Ren Jialun (任嘉伦), Roy Wang (王源), Victoria Song (宋茜), and Jike Junyi (吉克隽逸).

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Another Xiangsheng

Jan 31 23:33

This xiangsheng or ‘crosstalk’ performance is by Lu Xin and Yu Hao. Crosstalk usually involves two actors with one being the “joker” and the other being the “teaser,” it is all about word jokes and playing with rhythm and language.

Meanwhile, on Weibo, many netizens are complaining that they don’t find the language performances as funny as before and that they are missing the older performers they grew up seeing on tv.

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You are the Gift of My Life

Jan 31 23:38

This song is sung by the renowned Chinese singer and songwriter Liu Huan (刘欢), who is famous for his work within China’s pop music industry. Outside of China, is also known for performing at the 2008 Olympics Ceremony, joined by Sarah Brightman to sing the official song You and Me. Liu actually has a small Olympic pin on his hat as a nod to the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Our Era

Jan 31 23:40

The song Our Era (我们的时代) is performed by Zhang Ye (张也) and Lü Jihong (吕继宏) who have often sung together at earlier Spring Festivals, mostly singing patriotic songs bringing an ode to China, Chinese people, and China’s landscapes.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Special Segment

Jan 31 23:43

Like every year, this is the part of the show where some ‘exemplary persons’ get honored for their accomplishments. This special segment pays a tribute to recipients of the July 1st Medal, the Party’s highest honor, recognizing exceptional service and contributions to the Party and the country.

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Love Together

Jan 31 23:46

We suddenly find ourselves immersed in an underwater world together with Chinese singer-songwriter Li Ronghao and Taiwanese singer Angela Zhang for the song Love Together (爱在一起).

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Yellow River, Yangtze River

Jan 31 23:52

Mainland China, HK, Macau, and Taiwan are all represented on stage for this song!

This song (黄河 长江) is performed by Chinese top actor and singer Chen Kun (陈坤 , 1979), who is also known as Aloys Chen. Together singing with him are Taiwanese singer Jam Hsiao and Hong Kong rapper/singer/multi-talent Jackson Wang. From Macao there’s the musical artist Sean Pang (Pang Veng-Sam/彭永琛).

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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The Bells of Spring

Jan 31 23:55

The Bells of Spring (春天的钟声) is a song performed by Gala veteran Sun Nan and the singer Tan Weiwei.

Sun Nan (孙楠) is a famous Chinese Mandopop singer who performed at the Gala multiple times over the past year, including the iconic 2016 performance where he danced together with 540 robots.

Tan Weiwei (谭维维), also known as Sitar Tan, is a singer from Sichuan who rose to fame when she became a runner-up in the Super Girl talent show. In 2020, she released a noteworthy album titled 3811 which focused on the struggles women in China are facing, with each of the 11 songs on the album telling stories of women from diverse backgrounds.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Twelve O’Clock Moment

Jan 31 0:00

Countdown!

It’s twelve o’clock. Happy New Year, everybody!

This special moment is celebrated together with Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu. The three were sent into China’s space station aboard the Shenzhou-13 spaceship on October 16, 2021, for a six-month stay – the longest ever in-orbit duration for ‘taikonauts.’

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Winter Olympics Special

Feb 1 00:09

We just saw Ice and Snow Twinkling in the Chinese Year under the guidance of the renowned conductor Chen Xieyang, who is also Honorary Music Director of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

Following were some words from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. Last week, the Olympic chief met face-to-face with Xi Jinping as China is getting ready to host the Winter Games.

Then this is the official Olympic song Light Up the Dream (点亮梦) performed by baritone Liao Changyong and Hongkong pop diva Coco Lee. On stage with them are 19 foreign hosts of CGTN.

Light Up Your Dreams was released in September 2021 by the Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee as a song meant to communicate positivity and hope (“There’s a miracle waiting for you after the storm”).

Also performing: China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Online criticism

Feb 1 00:13

Some online criticism on an earlier short play performed tonight about the hospital staff couple arguing about a spot to go abroad. The husband told the wife not to go because she is female. The online doctor network 丁香园 is now pointing out it’s sexist to say females should not go abroad as people “would be all focusing on how pretty she is instead of getting medical help.”

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Hotpot Sonata!

Feb 1 00:20

After the Song of the Land we have now switched to Hotpot Sonata (火锅奏鸣曲).

This song is an ode to hotpot! And we love hotpot!

The performance, among others, is by Chongqing Song and Dance Troupe.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

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Creative music, dance, poetry and painting “Reminiscence of the South”

Feb 1 00:23

This song is called Remembering the South (忆江南) and is performed by a male group of older and younger performers, including the 68-year-old Chinese mainland actors Pu Cunxin(濮存昕, 68 years old), Feng Yuanzheng (冯远征, 59 years old), Ding Zhi-Cheng (丁志诚, 58 years old), and the Taiwanese actor Li-Chun Lee (李立群, 69 years old).

Among the younger singers (1980s/1990s), there’s Ayanga (阿云嘎), Chinese musical theater actor, singer and songwriter of Mongol ethnicity; Taiwanese Mandopop singer Aska Yang (杨宗纬), Chinese singer Shawn Zheng aka Zheng Qiyuan (郑棋元) and the Chinese operatic tenor Cai Chengyu(蔡程昱).

Many on social media find this performance so beautiful that they wonder why it was scheduled so late in the evening.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

——–
 

Happy Hour

Feb 1 00:26

Chinese actor Zhu Yilong (朱一龙, 1988) is on stage singing the song Happy Hour (欢乐时光). It is not the first time for the Beijing Film Academy graduate to take part in the show. Last year, he performed together with Jackie Chan in one of the most anticipated acts of the night, which was a performance dedicated to all the health workers during the epidemic.

With Zhu there is the “queen of TV ratings”, Chinese actress Zhao Liying (赵丽颖), there’s TFBoys leader Karry Wang aka Wang Junkai (王俊凯), and Yisa Yu aka Yu Kewei (郁可唯).

Dance by Jilin City Song and Dance Troupe, China Post Art Troupe, Shandong Arts Institute, Zhongnan University of Nationalities School of Music and Dance, and the Beijing Modern Music Training Institute.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.

——–
 

Song “Unforgettable Tonight”

Feb 1 00:23

As always, the last song of tonight is Unforgettable Night (难忘今宵), the traditional closing song of the Spring Festival. The song was composed in 1984 when CCTV was preparing for its second Spring Festival Gala. Chief director Huang Yihe invited Qiao Yu and Wang Ming to write a closing song for the Gala in a simple yet popular style. The lyrics are by Qiao Yu (乔羽), the music is by Wang Ming (王酩).

Every year, the song is sung by Li Guyi (李谷一), who became famous with the song Homeland Love (乡恋) around the time of China’s Reform and Opening Up – the singer and her songs are nostalgic for many viewers. Li Guyi also appeared at the very first version of the Gala in 1983 and became the singer that sang the most at the event. She is singing together with Yang Hongji (杨洪基), Huo Yong (霍勇), and Yi Liyuan (伊丽媛).

With her on stage are all performers out tonight. It’s a wrap! Thank you for joining us and cheers to the Year of the Tiger.

Link to this performance on YouTube here.
 

By Manya Koetse, together with Miranda Barnes

1 For more on the political and socio-cultural meaning of the Gala, see Gao Yuan, 2012, “Construction of National Identity Through Media Ritual: A Case Study of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala,” Master’s Thesis, Uppsala University, Media & Communication Studies;
Yuan Yan, 2017, “Casting an ‘Outsider’ in the Ritual Center: Two Decades of Performances of ‘Rural Migrants’ in CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala,” Global Media and China 2 (2): 169-182.

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China Celebs

Barbie Hsu, Wang Xiaofei, and the Mattress Incident: Weibo’s Divorce Drama of the Year

The post-divorce fight between Wang Xiaofei and ‘Big S’ Barbie Hsu is taking place online, like a serialized drama going on for too long.

Manya Koetse

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It’s the messy divorce drama that just keeps going: Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu (‘Big S’) and mainland Chinese businessman Wang Xiaofei got divorced last year and recently aired their dirty laundry on social media. Even the expensive mattress the couple once shared suddenly became the focus of public attention.

One of the biggest celebrity topics on Weibo recently is the divorce drama between Taiwanese actress and tv host Barbie Hsu (Xu Xiyuan 徐熙媛, also known as Big S/大S) (45) and her former partner, Chinese mainland businessman Wang Xiaofei (汪小菲) (41).

In June of 2021, ‘Big S’ and Wang announced that they were in the process of divorce. The two were married for over a decade, since March 2011, and have two children together, an eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

Less than a year later, in March of 2022, Barbie Hsu tied the knot with her former flame, South Korean musician DJ Koo Jun-Yup.

In November of this year, ‘Big S’ accused her ex-husband of failing to pay alimony since March of 2022. The accumulated amount reportedly had reached more than NT$5 million (US$160,000). The court ruled that some of Wang Xiaofei’s assets in Taiwan will be seized.

Wang Xiaofei then publicly responded to the accusations and aired the dirty laundry about the aftermath of the separation from Hsu.

Everyone and everything got involved afterward, from Wang’s mother to Barbie Hsu’s sister, and brother-in-law – the entire family got dragged into the drama.

The former couple’s old mattress even got dragged out for everyone to see. Meanwhile, Chinese netizens were eating popcorn and staying online to watch the divorce drama unfold.

Here is a timeline of what has happened.

 
▶︎▶︎ In the morning of November 21, Taiwanese media first reported that ‘Big S’ had accused Wang Xiaofei of not complying with their divorce agreement and had not paid alimony since March of 2022 and that Barbie Hsu had already taken legal steps to enforce the court order.

Via her lawyer, Barbie Hsu issued a statement about the matter, which went absolutely viral on Weibo. One post including the statement received over one million likes (#大S发声明稿#).

In the statement, dated November 21, ‘Big S’ expressed hopes that the dispute between her and her ex-husband could be solved as soon as possible for the sake of the children.

 
▶︎▶︎ Wang Xiaofei publicly responded to the issue in over twenty angry and emotional posts on his Weibo account (@汪小菲), where he has over seven million followers.

Wang, who is based in Beijing, complained about being smeared and not being able to see his children. According to Wang, he paid more than enough – millions – for child support and maintenance. He wrote he was unwilling to pay for an electricity bill that is not his after paying for the house where Barbie Hsu is living in and the custom-made mattress she is sleeping on, which allegedly cost him over US$320,160.

Photoshopped meme showing Wang carrying a mattress.

“Someone else is living there, fine,” he wrote: “Can you at least change the mattress, you wimp? Still letting me pay for the f*cking electricity bill.”

When Wang vowed to personally go back to Taiwan, some commenters reminded him not to forget to bring back his mattress.

Meme on the right shows Wang Xiaofei with his mattress.

(It later turned out that Wang did not fly to Taiwan after all.)

 
▶︎▶︎ Wang Xiaofei claimed that Mike Hsu (Xu Yajun 许雅钧), husband of Barbie Hsu’s sister and Taiwanese tv host Dee Hsu (徐熙娣 aka ‘Little S’ 小S) has a mistress (#汪小菲发博曝许雅钧养小三#).

 
▶︎▶︎ Wang Xiaofei’s mother Zhang Lan (张兰) got involved in the drama and posted a lengthy statement on her own Weibo account on Tuesday, November 22.

Zhang Lan (@张兰俏江南创始人) is a billionaire business woman and the founder of the upscale restaurant chain South Beauty Group. She has her own livestream e-commerce channel.

Zhang accused her former daughter-in-law ‘Big S’ Barbie Hsu of hurting her son, not letting her see her grandchildren, while also caller her a liar and even suggesting she is a bad mother.

Zhang also accused her and her younger sister, Dee Hsu (徐熙娣), of having a history of drug abuse.

 
▶︎▶︎ On November 23, Barbie Hsu defended herself against drug abuse allegations in a social media post, stating both her and her sister suffer from bad hearts and are not even able to use drugs.

 
▶︎▶︎ The mother of Barbie Hsu and Dee Hsu also got involved, talking to the media and complaining that she has been scolded by Wang Xiaofei’s mother Zhang Lan, and saying that Wang and his mother are more than welcome to see the children; they would just need to come over in order to meet with them.

 
▶︎▶︎ November 23 became ‘Mattress D-day’ after it became known that Barbie Hsu had delivered the much talked-about mattress to the S Hotel in Taipei, which Wang owns (the hotel was named after ‘Big S’ in 2017). As reported by Taiwan News, the hotel’s general manager surnamed Lee (李) claimed the mattress arrived on Tuesday, and he stated that discarded mattresses are professionally destroyed.

On that Wednesday, the S Hotel held a press conference and allowed Taiwanese media to film and photograph the mattress being destroyed by workers.

The hashtag “Taiwan Media Live-Broadcasts the Handling of Wang Xiaofei & Big S Mattress” #台媒直播汪小菲大S床垫处理过程# went viral on 23 November, receiving over 270 million views on Weibo in one single day. A 23-minute video showed Big S’s mattress carried out of the hotel and being completely cut open by several men as a crowd of media stands by.

Some on Weibo said: “The drama is too much.”

 
▶︎▶︎ On Mattress Day, Wang posted again on social media, claiming that he had lost his temper after Hsu sued him for not paying alimony. As reported by Taiwan News, he wrote: “I don’t want to say anything anymore, burn the damn mattress, it’s all in the past, let’s not attack each other anymore.” The post was deleted soon after.

 
▶︎▶︎ With the mattress incident going viral, many netizens soon guessed that if it was about such an expensive mattress, it must have been one by the Swedish Hästens company.

Hästens (海丝腾) itself then responded to the drama via Weibo with an older video that showed its mattresses are of such good quality that they will never go up in flames.

Hastens video comparing a different brand mattress to its own mattress; one will go up in flames, the other will not.

Hastens’ post received nearly 20,000 likes on Weibo.

 
▶︎▶︎ On Thursday, November 24, Wang Xiaofei’s mother Zhang Lan seized the opportunity to start selling mattresses on her livestream shopping channel (#张兰卖床垫#).

Besides all the personal drama, Zhang commercially profited from the current developments. According to recent reports, she did a total of nine live broadcasts from November 21 to 23, and saw 820,000 new followers flocking to her channel, with an average of 5.3 million viewers per livestream, and up to 25 million RMB ($3,5 million) in sales.

 
▶︎▶︎ On the same day, as reported by Singaporean Yahoo News, Wang Xiaofei declared that he wants to end the conflict with his wife, only to later delete the post from his Weibo account. Somewhere in all this, Wang also accused Big S of cheating on him since 2018.

He reportedly wrote: “I don’t want to say anything anymore. The mattress is burned. It’s over. We won’t hurt each other anymore.”

By that time, the drama was so big on social media that some netizens wrote: “I can’t wait for Wang Xiaofei to be gone from my timeline!”

 
▶︎▶︎ On November 25, Wang Xiaofei started a livestream while laying in his bed, offering viewers a look into his private bedroom. He seemed to be pleased about getting so many views and some suggested he seemed to be drunk. During this livestream, an unknown woman suddenly seemed to lay down beside him, making the livestream comments explode. The livestream stopped shortly after.

 
▶︎▶︎ Another character stepped on this stage. Chinese actress Gina Zhang (Zhang Yingying 张颖颖) went online to defend Wang (who may be her good friend or something more), saying he is on the verge of a mental breakdown. She also wrote that she hoped to convince him to stop sharing all of his struggles on public platforms for the entire world to see.

She also turned out to be the woman in the livestream. Over 250,000 people liked her post.

 
▶︎▶︎ Meanwhile, Barbie Hsu publicly posted bank account statements from 2016 to prove her financial independence and that she had paid for the downpayment of their house at the time herself.

 
▶︎▶︎ On December 3, again another hashtag related to this divorce drama came out, getting up to 200 million views in a day (#大S再婚头纱是刷汪小菲信用卡买的#).

The trend relates to the story of ‘Big S’ reportedly asking Wang to leave his credit card after the separation, and that the veil that she wore during the wedding with her second husband, among other things, was bought with Wang’s credit card.

On the same day, Wang’s mother Zhang Lan again commented on the issue in one of her livestreams, saying that Wang and Barbie Hsu officially are not even divorced yet since their marriage was registered in Beijing and had not been dissolved yet (#张兰说大S和汪小菲还没有离婚#).

 
▶︎▶︎ On December 4, the hashtag “Wang Xiaofei or Big S – Who Is Telling Lies?” (#汪小菲大s谁在说谎#) went viral, getting an astonishing 560 million clicks on Sunday.

It is clear that two former have actually ruined their reputation by airing their dirty online like this. This especially matters for Big S, who used to do commercials for many brands.

“It’s like we’re watching a theater play,” some said.

Others are also tired of their drama dominating social media topics: “I don’t care which one is lying, I care about their kids.”

“This serialized drama is going on for too long now,” others wrote.

This is not the first big celebrity divorce drama to go viral on Weibo. In 2021, there was the big fall-out between Wang Leehom and Lee Jinglei. The separation between actor Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong became one of the biggest trending topics on Weibo of all time.

Meanwhile, some netizens can’t seem to get enough of the drama: “From the mattress to the veil, I’m just enjoying the spectacle.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Celebs

“A Good Day” – Kris Wu Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison

The first woman who came forward to accuse Kris Wu in 2021 celebrated his sentencing in a livestream.

Manya Koetse

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The Chinese-Canadian fallen celebrity Kris Wu, better known as Wu Yifan (吴亦凡) in China, has been dominating Chinese social media discussions after a preliminary court ruling came out in the criminal case in which Wu was accused of rape and other sex crimes.

On November 25, the Beijing Chaoyang district court found Wu guilty of raping three women in his home in 2020 and of “gathering people to commit adultery.” He was sentenced to 13 years in prison followed by deportation.

Kris Wu is a 32-year old rapper, singer, and actor who was born in Guangzhou and moved to Vancouver with his mother at the age of ten. Wu also spent a part of his high school years in Guangzhou, but he holds a Canadian passport. He became famous as a member of the K-pop band Exo and later started a solo career.

As an actor, he starred in several award-winning movies. He also starred in Sweet Sixteen, a movie in which Wu ironically plays the role of someone getting jailed for shooting a rapist.

The 19-year-old student Du Meizhu (都美竹) was the first to accuse Wu of predatory behavior online in 2021, with at least 24 more women also coming forward claiming the celebrity showed inappropriate behavior and had pressured young women into sexual relationships. As the scandal unfolded, various hashtags related to the story received billions of views on Weibo. Wu was formally arrested on suspicion of rape in mid-August 2021.

On Friday, Meizhu posted “Finally [I’ve waited for this]” on her social media account. She also briefly joined a livestream in which she celebrated the sentencing and played the song “A Good Day” (“好日子”).

On Weibo, the hashtag “Wu Yifan Gets 13 Years” [13 years prison sentence in preliminary ruling] (#吴亦凡一审被判13年#) received nearly 1,8 billion views on Friday.

Noteworthy enough, the Kris Wu hashtag was also being used by netizens to discuss the tragic Urumqi fire which was also a major trending topic on the same day.

Some speculated that the media attention for the Kris Wu case was being used to overshadow the Urumqi news. Others condemned social media users for turning to celebrity news instead of focusing on the tragic fire in Xinjiang’s capital.

At the same time, there was also a running joke on social media in light of China’s ongoing ‘zero Covid’ policy, with people saying: “Who will come out first, Kris Wu or us?”

By Manya Koetse 

Featured image: Kris Wu starring in Sweet Sixteen movie.

 

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