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“I Am Fan Yusu” (我是范雨素) (Full Translation)

In late April of 2017, Fan Yusu became an overnight literary sensation in China when her essay “I Am Fan Yusu” was published on online platform Noonstory.com and soon went viral. Here is a full translation of the original Chinese essay. Translation provided by What’s on Weibo.

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In late April of 2017, Fan Yusu became an overnight literary sensation in China when her essay “I am Fan Yusu” was published on online platform Noonstory.com and soon went viral. Here is a full translation of the original Chinese essay. Translation provided by What’s on Weibo.

“I Am Fan Yusu”, by Fan Yusu

1

My life is like a book that’s dreadful to read – fate has made its bookbinding very messy. I am from Xiangyang in Hubei, and started to do private teaching at the local village school when I was twelve. If I hadn’t left, I would have continued to teach and would have become a proper teacher. But I couldn’t bear to stay in the countryside and view the sky from the bottom of the well, so I came to Beijing. I wanted to see the world. I was twenty years old then.

Things were not easy after coming to Beijing. It was mainly because I was lazy and stupid, and because I was not skillful with my hands and feet. What other people could do in half an hour, would take me three hours. My hands were too slow – slower than most people. I worked as a waitress at a restaurant and would drop the tray and break the plates. I just made enough money to keep myself from starving. I wasted two years in Beijing; I was the type who couldn’t see the flame of my dreams. Then, I rushed myself into marrying a man from the northeast of China.

Within a time frame of just five or six years, we had two daughters. But their father’s business was doing worse and worse, and he started to drink heavily every day and became aggressive. I simply couldn’t bear the domestic violence and decided to take my daughters back to my village in Xiangyang to ask for help. He never even came looking for us. I later heard he went from Mongolia to Russia. He’s probably lying drunk on some Moscow street now. In my hometown, I told my mother that I would go and raise my two daughters myself.

2

During our childhood, my sister and I used to lie leg-to-leg in bed reading novels. When our eyes got tired, we would chat for a bit. I asked my sister: we’ve read countless biographies, which famous person do you admire the most? My sister said: I cannot see or touch the people described in these books, so they can’t really convince me. The person I admire the most is our brother.

 

“Out of all the people in our lives that we can see and touch, it is our mother I admire the most.”

 

I listened to her, but I could not accept what she said. Sure, we cannot see or touch the people in our books. But out of all the people in our lives that we can see and touch, it is our mother I admire the most. Our brother is nothing but a child prodigy.

My mother’s name is Zhang Xianzhi and she was born July 20, 1936. At the age of fourteen, she was asked to become the director of the local Women’s Federation because she was a good speaker and problem-solver. She started doing that in 1950 and held that job for forty years, even exceeding the reigning time of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. However, that is not why I admire my mother.

When my mother was only a few years old, she was betrothed by my grandfather to the next-door neighbor, my father. The arrangement would later financially benefit my mother’s brother. My father was a handsome and elegant man in his younger days, but the relationship between my parents was not good at all and they would fight every day.

For as long as I can remember, the impression I had of my father was like that of the shadow of a big tree: you can see it but it is of no use. He did not talk, his health was not good, and he did not have physical strength. The care for the five children in the house was fully in my mother’s hands.

My mother was a rural woman who was born in the evil old society, and she had never attended a single day of school. But she picked out the names for me and my four siblings. She named my oldest brother Fan Yun [‘yun’ for ‘cloud’], and the younger brother Fan Fei [‘fei’ for ‘fly’]. She hoped they would grow up like the dragon and the phoenix, riding the clouds and mounting the mist. She gave us three sisters names that were far more casual. My oldest sister was named Fan Guiren, meaning that she was conceived when the osmanthus flowers were in bloom. My other sister was born at the time of the plum blossom, so she should have been named Meiren [梅人 ‘plum person’] but because it sounded the same as the word for ‘moldy person’, it was an unlucky name and she was called Fan Meihua [梅花 ‘plum flower’]. I was the youngest child, born when the chrysanthemum flowers were in bloom, so my mother named me Fan Juren [‘ju’ for chrysanthemum]. When I was twelve, I read that year’s most popular romance novel Misty Rain, written by auntie Qiong Yao. I then changed my name into Fan Yusu [‘yu’ for rain, lit: ‘the nature of rain’].

From when he was little, my eldest brother would study independently but he had no talent for going to school. Every night he would rather sleep than study and he did not pass the college entrance exam in the first year. The next year he was also not admitted. My brother was upset and said that if he would not pass the college entrance examination he would leave the countryside. He wanted to become a writer and go to town. Our family is very poor, and with my two sisters both being disabled and having to see doctors for many years, we didn’t have a dime. But because brother wanted to be a writer, we had to invest in him. He exchanged the household’s wheat and rice for money and bought literary books and classics for it. Without grain, we ate sweet potatoes. Fortunately, not one of mother’s five children starved to death, and not one child complained that there was not enough food.

 

“My mother had five children, and not one of them was worry-free.”

 

My oldest brother read and wrote for several years, but he did not become a writer. He had a very thick literary air about him, he did not care about his appearances, and he would talk a semi-comprehensible gibberish. In the village, these kinds of people would be called “literature drinkers,” much despised like the character Kong Yiji in the work of Lu Xun.

However, my brother and Kong Yiji were in different positions, because my brother had our brave mother. Thanks to her, not one person would give my brother a look of disdain.

Mother was very eloquent. When she spoke she sounded like a state leader. She was a matchmaker for a long time, the people in Xiangyang would call her “Red Leaf.” She would not charge a penny and just did it to help out – we would call it a volunteer nowadays. In the early eighties of the last century in rural areas, every family had many babies, and the boys would grow up and marry, the girls would grow up to be married off. People with a talent like my mother were most welcome.

That my oldest brother did not become a writer and never left the countryside was not a pressing matter. But it was a big deal for him to get married. In the village, people like my brother were called ‘literary madmen,’ not worthy of marrying. But since we had such an awesome mother, who could sell black as white, she turned brother’s shortcomings into an advantage. With my mother’s majestic power and prestige, our dirt-poor household found my big brother a wife as sincere and honest as a spring pagoda tree.

After getting married, my oldest brother was still pedantic. He said to mother that although the village government body was small, it was still part of the government’s abuse and corruption. He wanted my mother to quit her job as village official because he found it disgraceful. At that time, although I was young, I thought my big brother was acting silly; what corrupt officials were nibbling on two sweet potatoes for dinner every night?

But my mum did not say anything, and she resigned from the village government after forty years.

Five months after my big sister was born, she got a high fever and developed meningitis. At that time, the traffic was not convenient, and my mother made my fast-running uncle carry my big sister for thirteen miles to the Xiangyang city center hospital. But the hospital could not cure my big sister’s disease. My sister did not have a fever, she was mentally retarded.

According to my mother, the injections were too heavy in those days, and she said my big sister had been poisoned by drugs.

Big sister was imbecilic, but my mother never gave up. She believed she had the power to change this. She believed in Western medicine, she believed in Chinese medicine, she believed in spiritual healing, – she would hold on to any remote chance.

Often someone would come to our home telling us that in this or that place there was this immortal person or some spirit. Mother would let father help my big sister to pray to a talisman, and to drink spiritual water. Every time they had hope, and every time they were disappointed. My mother never gave up.

My younger older sister had polio. She continuously received medical treatments until the age of twelve. She had surgery on her legs and then slowly improved.

My mother had five children, and not one of them was worry-free.

The author’s mother. Photo provided by the author to Noonstory.

3

I used to be very pretentious.

I am my mother’s only healthy little daughter, born when she was nearly forty years old. During my childhood, my mother was busy and never paid much attention to me. When I was about six or seven years old, I taught myself to read novels. This is not something to boast about since my sister and cousin could read books as thick as bricks. The only thing that made me really proud of myself as a child, was when I read a vertically printed version of Journey to the West in traditional characters. No one knew it and no one praised me. It was just me being proud of me.

 

“If a person cannot feel happiness or satisfaction in life, they simply aren’t reading enough novels.”

 

At that age, it was easy to become arrogant. My grades were the best of my class. I never paid attention to class, instead I revisited the novels I read in my mind. I must have read the novel Mei Laoyue a thousand times in my mind.

When I was in primary school, the literary publications that came out the most were the ‘educated youth literature,’ which would teach people about escaping train ticket fares, stealing vegetables from fellow villagers, picking fruit, beat the guard dogs of peasant households, and scheme to make a dog stew.

Looking at these novels, I felt so happy that we were nibbling on two sweet potatoes for every meal. We didn’t need to steal, didn’t need to fight, there were no people hitting me, and we also had two potatoes, and could do some light reading. At that time, the young me developed a way of thinking that if a person cannot feel happiness or satisfaction in life, they simply aren’t reading enough novels.

I didn’t just read educated youth literature, I also read Robinson Crusoe, The Mysterious Island, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, In the World, The Stories of Uncle Lei Feng, The Song of Ouyang Hai, or Golden Light. By reading these novels, I became thoroughly familiar with Chinese geography, world geography, Chinese history, and world history. Just tell me the name of a place, and I know where in the world it is, in which continent. Name a river and I know in which of the world’s oceans it flows.

At the age of twelve, I was about to burst. I wrote “walk barefoot to the end of the world” on any blank piece of paper in my room. In the summer vacation when I was twelve, I walked away without saying goodbye and went down south to see the big world.

I chose the south because of a story in a magazine I saw in 1982. It was about a philanthropist who was specialized in taking care of homeless children. She took in a boy from the streets who slept in cement pipelines in the winter and whose legs had frozen and had to be amputated. It left a deep impression on me, and I knew that if I would go and wander around Beijing, my legs could freeze and I could lose them.

 

“With my short hair and dirty, unwashed face, I looked like a homeless boy nobody cared about.”

 

As I had learned from the seventy-two tricks from educated youth novels, I sneaked in without a ticket and went to Hainan Island, where flowers bloom all year long. There are papaya and coconut trees on the streets. Lying under the tree, you can eat papaya and drink coconut milk. When I grew tired of eating fruit, I went through garbage bins to find something to eat. It was the lifestyle of the heroes in my books. With my short hair and dirty, unwashed face, I looked like a homeless boy nobody cared about. Human traffickers couldn’t see my gender and didn’t notice me.

But I grew tired of this life. There was no school to go to, there were no novels to read, and there was no mother. I’d wandered around Hainan Island for three months, and decided to return home. I stowed away the entire journey and arrived back to my hometown, returning to my mother’s side.

Once I came back, there was only my mother who would still love me with her caring eyes, but my father and eldest brother hated me to the bone and said I had made them lose face. In the village, my oldest male cousin from my father’s side went to my mother and said I had made the entire family Fan lose face and that she should give me a good beating and drive me away.

At this time, the twelve-year-old me experienced an awakening. In our Xiangyang village, if baby sons (boys) would leave for several days and come home, it would be a trivial matter. But if a baby girl (daughter) would only leave the home, she would be like the eloped criminal from classic novels. In our village, no girl had ever done such a thing. By leaving home, I had hurt my virtue and shamed my family.

I was embarrassed to face people and was too ashamed to go to school. The crucial point was that I also did not have the courage to wander off. How could I go on living? I was just surviving.

Mother did not abandon me. This time, my child prodigy second eldest brother had finished college, and as a person with a high IQ and EQ became an official. Mother ordered my child prodigy brother to seek a private teacher’s job for the twelve-year-old me. He let me teach in a remote primary school and found a place for me.

The years slipped away and crumbled. In the blink of an eye, mother’s five children were all grown up. My mother had searched for a medical treatment for my oldest sister for twenty years but still had not cured her illness. In the year my sister turned twenty, she caught a high fever and medical treatment was ineffective. She died.

My second elder sister grew up and became a literature teacher at a rural middle school. When she was teaching, her gifted scholarly boyfriend went to Shanghai to seek a different future. My sister, a thousand classical poems stored in her mind, bitterly said: “Only those who cannot read a single character have a poetic quality.” My sister then found an illiterate man who had not attended a single day of school and hastily made arrangements for herself.

My oldest brother was still in the village working on the land. While he was weeding, spading and shoveling, his dreams of becoming a writer were shattered. Big brother is still farming now, and he lives his days in bitterness. He is no longer asking why, nor lamenting his faith.

My second brother who was already accomplished at a young age had turned to gambling at the age of forty. Maybe it was because he had too much luck as an official, but there was only one word for my brother’s gambling: losing. My brother took on high-interest loans after losing his money. Before long, he could no longer pay off his debts and would spend every day running, moving, and hiding to shake off debt collectors. He also lost his official title.

Due to the hypocrisy of the world, my brother had no friends or family left. Late at night, he would pace back and forth over the Han River bridge.

At this time, my mother stood up and consoled my brother all the time. Mum said that her forty-year-old son was a good kid. That it was not his fault, that he was misguided by his government official friends.

My mother said that she was sorry that she had not let my brother stay in school longer. If he could have returned, he might have passed the university exam in such a way that he would be admitted to a university in a big city, and would have become a government official of a major metropolis, where the officials are of high quality and where he would not be misguided and would not have become a gambling addict. Mother said: you’re not dead, the debt is not bad, there’s nothing to be afraid of – just keep on living a good life. With my mother’s love, my brother is still living strong.

4

When I returned home to Xiangyang with my two daughters after leaving the violence in my home and my alcoholic husband, my mother was calm and collected and told me not to worry. But my oldest brother avoided me like the plague and wanted me to leave and not cause him any problems.

According to the tradition of rural Xiangyang, adult daughters are like spilled milk, and my mother did not have the power to help me. My mother was a strong politician, but she did not dare to stand up against China’s five thousand years of three principles and five virtues. My loving mother told me, it is not important that my baby could not attend school, I will pray to the gods every day that they will give you a way to make a living.

 

“I understood that I was now merely a passer-by in the village where I was born and raised.”

 

At this moment, I realized I no longer had a home. For us as poor rural people, it is very hard to get by in life, and the affection between family members naturally is not that deep. I did not resent my brother, but I understood that I was now merely a passer-by in the village where I was born and raised. My two children were even more like rootless, floating duckweed. In this world, we only had my mother who loved us.

I took my two children to the capital and became a nanny. I looked after other people’s children and had one day off every week. In a rented room in Picun, east of the fifth ring road, my oldest daughter looked after her younger sister.

I was really lucky, as the family where I worked were local tyrants that were on the Hurun list of the rich and powerful. My employer’s wife had two children who were already grown up. I looked after the baby of my male employer’s mistress.

The mistress of my employer had a boy and a girl, the oldest kid was studying at an international school, the little girl was a three-month-old baby. My employer hired a Shaolin martial arts instructor for his son, and opened a space of three hundred square meters in his own home office building, fitted with pickets, sandbags, and parallel bars….all for the bastard son to use by himself. Besides studying martial arts, he also found him a live-in Renmin University graduate tutor responsible for picking up the child from school and dropping him off, and also guiding him in doing his homework and taking him to martial arts practice. He also taught the six-year-old kid computer programming.

I was only responsible for the three-month-old daughter. The little baby slept irregularly and would often wake up in the middle of the night. I would nurse her and rock her to sleep. At those times I would think of my two girls in Picun. They did not have a mummy to bring them to bed. Would they have nightmares? Would they cry? I kept thinking and thinking, and cried silently. Thanks to the late night, nobody saw my tears.

My female employer was 25 years younger than my male employer. Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night to comfort the baby, and would see her sitting on the sofa with her delicate make-up, waiting for her husband to come home. Her figure was more graceful than a model’s and her face was prettier than that of film star Fan Bingbing. But she was still like an imperial concubine from a Palace drama, painstakingly flattering her husband as if she would not be fed if she did not honor him. Maybe if her predecessors would have enough of the bitter, she would not have put up this useless struggle.

Every time I would absent-mindedly ask myself if I was living in the Tang dynasty, in the Qing dynasty, or if this was the new socialist China. But I had no supernatural powers, I haven’t time-traveled!

My eldest daughter made two friends of the same age who did not attend school. One was named Ding Jianping, the other Li Jingni. Ding Jianping came from Tianshui in Gansu, and did not go to school because mum had left dad, and because dad was angry. Dad said that public school did not allow migrant children to attend, and that they could only attend migrant sponsored schools which would have countless different teachers within one semester – the quality of teaching was poor. Anyway, nothing would come of it and he would not let them attend to save some money.

Li Jingni did not attend school because her father had his wife and children in his hometown. He also had Li Jingni by cheating on her with Li Jingni’s mother. When Li Jingni’s mother discovered she had been cheated, she angrily left. She did not want Li Jingni. The father was a kind-hearted man who did not abandon Li Jingni. But he said that Li Jingni was an illegal child without a residence permit, and that the migrant sponsored school in the city was an illegal school with no credentials. The children attending this school were not registered by the Ministry of Education, and would not be allowed to study in high  school or college. Li Jingni was an illegal person, and did not need to attend an illegal school to become illegal in two ways.

I thought of this unlucky reminder of the Ministry of Education, and wondered who implemented this destructive policy for the children of migrant workers? The newspaper said that the Ministry of Education does this to prevent lower schools from misreporting the number of students, and falsely receiving teaching fundings. But why can’t the Ministry of Education punish those minor officials rather than the children of migrant workers?

I had my mother praying for my two children to live happy and long lives. There were three bigger children looking after my youngest child and I felt at ease – my children were doing very well. The three kids would sing the song “Our motherland is like a garden, its flowers are bright-colored” to my younger daughter every day, with great joy.

The author and daughter travel in Tibet. Provided by the author.

5

Beijing’s Picun [Pi village] where I live, is a very interesting village. Chinese people know that in the suburbs of Beijing, farmers are millionaires because their old real estate has become very valuable. The nouveau riche likes to flaunt their wealth with their cars, watches, and leather bags. We don’t do that kind of flaunting in Picun. We flaunt our dogs. We have more dogs than anyone else. I have a friend whom I got to know in Picun, Guo Fulai from Hebei’s Wuqiao, and he is a construction worker in Picun who lives in a construction shack. Every day, one of the Picun villagers comes to inspect the shack with an army of twelve dogs, much to the embarrassment of the migrant workers in the shack. Guo Fulai coldly described it in the article “Picun Village Dogs,” published in Beijing Literature. It expressed the voice of migrant workers.

 

“A book that has never been read is like a person that never really lived, and it makes me sad to see.”

 

My landlord was the village secretary, and was regarded as the village’s former president. The landlord was a politician, and felt it was beneath him to raise an army of dogs; he just had two. One was a Scotch Collie, the other a Tibetan mastiff. The landlord told me that the Scotch Collie is the world’s most intelligent dog and that the Tibetan mastiff is the world’s most courageous and fierce dog. The brightest dog and the bravest dog as an alliance – they were invincible. My children lived in the official residence of the Picun retired president, and they had the best security on earth. My children and I felt that this was a happy life.

After my eldest daughter learned to read novels, I continuously went to the Panjiayuan market and many flea markets and waste collection stations to buy over 1000 jin [±500 gram] of books. Why did I buy so much? There are two reasons, one is that it is very cheap to buy per jin, the other is that the books at these waste collection stations are too new. Many are still laminated. A book that has never been read is like a person that never really lived, and it makes me sad to see.

Before, I never wrote essays. But now, if I have the time, I will write a long novel with pen and paper about the previous and current lives of the people I know. I barely went to school and I have no confidence; I will write this to satisfy myself. I already thought of a long title: “To Meet Again.” Its story is non-fictional, everything is true. The source of art is in life, and this life is incredible. Every person in my work can be verified. I always think of how I could write this novel even better to please myself.

When the Picun “Worker’s Home” started a literature group course, I attended it for a year. I had time to attend the class that year because I needed to take care of my youngest daughter, and I’d found a teaching job in the neighboring village of Yingezhuangcun at a migrant school. The wages at migrant schools are low and everyone would qualify, they gave 1600 [±230$] per month. Later, when my youngest daughter was a bit bigger, she could go to school by herself and buy her own food. I gave up teaching and became a baby-sitter, which paid more than 6000 [±870$] per month. I came back to see my youngest daughter once a week and stopped going to the Worker’s Home.

I’ve always felt that I am an insensitive and weak person. Looking at the newspapers, I would always just look for a basic overview. If you look at the newspapers of the past decades, before migrant workers started coming to the city, so before 1990, the suicide rate of China’s rural women was the world’s highest. They would hang themselves and make a terrible scene. Since they started working, the newspapers said they did not commit suicide anymore. But then a new odd word appeared: “Motherless Villages.” Rural women no longer committed suicide; they ran way. In 2000, I read a report titled “wild mandarin ducks are likely to separate”, about the fragile marriages of migrant workers who are living apart from each other. The women who run away also are married women living in a different place.

In Beijing, in these villages within the city, there are many of these migrant children without a mother. Perhaps people like to divide into groups because birds of a feather flock together. The two friends of my eldest daughter both were children like this. Their fate is miserable.

My eldest daughter followed the subtitles on the TV and became literate, reading newspapers and novels. Later, when she no longer needed to take care of her little sister, she started working as a laborer at the age of fourteen. While working hard, she studied more trades. She has turned twenty this year and is now a white-collar worker with an annual salary of 90.000 [±13.000US$]. In comparison, Ding Jianping and Li Jingni of the same age as her, have become screws in the world’s factory – because there was no one to pray for them. They are lined up like Terracotta warriors, leading a puppet-like life.

Anyone who has ever raised a cat or a dog knows how they will guard their cubs. Similarly, people are mammals. A woman who abandons her child lives with a bleeding heart.

6

Throughout the many years of my working life, I found that I could no longer trust people. All my contacts were quite superficial, and sometimes I was even afraid to greet people. I helped myself get better through a psychology book, from which I learned it was “social anxiety”, also called “social phobia.” Once it deteriorates, it can turn into a “clinical depression.” It can only be cured with love. I thought of my mother’s love for me, and that in this world only my mother will forever love me. I thought about this so hard every day, and my mental condition did not deteriorate.

 

“I can only be here, writing these words, expressing my shame. What else can I do?”

 

This year, my mother called me on the phone and told me that our production team was collecting land to build the Zhengwan high-speed train station. The residence permit of my daughters and me and the whole family of my big brother is still registered in the village, where we have land. With the village confiscating land, they only give 23.000 yuan [±3330U$] for an acre. It is unfair. The team leader posted an announcement that every household needed to send a legal representative to file a complaint with the government, and needed to fight for their own rights. Since my brother was out to work, my mother was the only one who could represent our family.

Mother told me that she followed the legal rights team and went to the town hall, county administration, and city hall. Wherever they went, they were pushed back by the youngsters working as guards to maintain social stability. The captain of the legal rights team was sixty years old, the youngest member of the team, and he broke four ribs. The guards were conscientious about my eighty-year-old mother, and they did not push her, but they did pull her away by the arm. In doing so, they dislocated her shoulder.

The acre of land was bought up for 22.000 [±3185$] altogether. Per capita it is already very little, but how can the few people who cannot work continue to live? There are no authorities who want to think about it, there are no people willing to think about their soul. In every corner of the Divine Land, it is this way, and everyone has accepted the misfortunes as decreed by fate.

I think of the cold wind in the first month of the lunar year, and how my 81-year-old mother is still fighting for her children who did not make something of themselves, how she is running for her children. I can only be here, writing these words, expressing my shame. What else can I do?

What can I do for my mother? Mother is a good person. In my childhood, most of the people in our village were picking fights with the immigrants from Jun prefecture behind our house, who moved there to repair the Danjiangkou reservoir. The most famous person of the Jun Prefecture is called Chen Shimei, who was executed by Bao Qingtian. Jun Prefecture city is now underwater. My mother, as a strong person within the village, on top of the pyramid, always appeared to stop the bullying of the immigrants. When I grew up and came to the big city to survive, I became the weak one at the lowest rung of society. As the daughter of a strong rural woman, I was often bullied by people in the city. I would then think: do people bully others who are weaker than they are to get a physiological pleasure? Or is it how genes work? Since then, I have had this idea that I will pass on love and dignity to everyone I meet who is weaker than I am.

Can’t you always do something in life? I am incompetent, I am so poor, but I can still do something!

In the streets of Beijing, I embrace every disabled homeless person. I embrace every mentally ill person. I use my hugs to pass on mother’s love, to return mother’s love.

My eldest daughter told me that since she went to work at a cultural company, she gets a bottle of Huiyuan Juice every day. My daughter is not used to drinking juice. Every day after work, she will take the drink to the homeless grannie who is collecting scraps at the waste bin near the company gate, and she will give it to her.

– – End – –

– Translated by Manya Koetse

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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jorge Bravo-Pratscher

    May 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Hopefully one person with loads of money is willing to make a movie out of this story. Thanks for the translation.

  2. Soi Chong Powell

    June 20, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Moving story! Reminds me of George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” only evoking even more empathy from the reader. Thank you for your sensitive translation, Manya Koetse.

  3. John Myers

    August 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    A powerful and truthful look at the real lives of people in China–gripping, human and heart-felt. I speaks to the human spirit in all of us. I think anyone from any country or culture can relate to her story. Thanks Fan Yusu for writing this and Manya for translating it for us.

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China Insight

These are the 100 Terms the Communist Party Wants You to Know for the 19th CPC National Congress

100 “must-know” terms for the 19th National Congress, propagated by People’s Daily.

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These are the 100 terms to know for the 19th CPC National Congress – propagated by People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, on Weibo.

It is the week of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), better known as the “19th Party Congress.” This meeting, that takes place from October 18 to October 24, is a major event that takes place every five years.

On Chinese social media, Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily (@人民日报) presented a vocabulary list for people to know before the huge political event.

During the 19th Party Congress approximately 2280 delegates from across the nation officially come together to select the party’s top leadership for the next five years. The event is also called a “celebration of decisions that have already been taken,” as the key points of the meeting have mostly already been settled behind closed doors.

It is these key decisions for China that will be discussed during the CPC National Congress and then officially announced, representing “new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies proposed by the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core” (Xinhua).

In a recent report by APCO Worldwide, Gary Li summarizes what to look out for during the 19th National Congress, writing that it is likely for President Xi Jinping to “consolidate his power further by making changes to the party apparatus,” influencing regulators in various sectors from finance to trade and cybersecurity.

Posting the 9-page list of a total of 100 terms on Weibo, People’s Daily (@人民日报) writes:

“Study time! We want to teach you the translation of 100 hot terms for the 19th CPC National Congress (..) Do you know how to say these things in English? This is how to avoid using Chinglish and to express [these terms] in a more authentic way. They are all useful for CET-4 & CET-6 [national English level tests in China] and other exams. Let’s learn these!”

By October 18, the list was shared 19000 times on Weibo and received many comments.

One netizen said: “With these 100 words you can understand a new China.” Others complained that they still think the English translation of these Chinese terms “sounds like Chinglish.”

 

Relevant Words: Policy Trends & Digital Focus

 

The vocabulary list, which was selected from China Daily‘s “Little Red Book of Hot Words” (热词红宝书), is an interesting combination of terms that says a lot about the focal points of the National Congress and the trends that are emphasized for the coming five years.

In the recent APCO report, Gary Li mentions Ideological Tightening as a crucial policy trend. This promotion of “Chinese values” is clearly visible in the vocabularly list, that includes terms such as “the Chinese Dream” (中国梦), “Stay true to the mission” (不忘初心), and “cultural confidence” (文化自信).

Another important policy trend on the government agenda is Anti-Corruption, which is represented by the term “anti-corruption TV series” (反腐剧).

The list also includes some Internet slang terms such as “give a like” (点赞) or “phubber”/”bowed head clan” (低头族), referring to people who constantly look down to their smartphone.

It also includes a catchphrase that became especially popular on Chinese social media in 2016 when it was used by Chinese swimming champion Fu Yuanhui during an interview about her winning medal during the Olympics – (“用了洪荒之力”), which can be translated as “I’ve used my primeval powers!”, basically meaning “to give one’s full play.”

Swimmer Fu Yuanhui went viral in 2016 when she introduced a new catchphrase that is still a hot online sentence.

The inclusion of some typical internet catchphrases is especially noteworthy because in 2014, Chinese state media published that programs and commercials should not use Internet language to preserve traditional expressions.

The entire list has a clear Digital Focus when it comes to different industries, including government, media, finance, and traveling, introducing words such as “in-flight Wifi services” (空中上网服务), “face scan payment” (扫脸支付), 5G era (5G时代), and taxi-hailing app (打车软件).

The Belt and Road initiative and China’s role in the world is an important point on this year’s agenda.

The list also includes words that emphasize the Belt and Road Initiative and China-centric Relations for Economy and Trade, such as the “New type of major-power relationship” (新型大国关系).

 

The List: 100 Hot Words for the 19th National Congress

 

This is the full list of the 100 terms as shared by the People’s Daily through screenshots, typed out by What’s on Weibo. The pinyin and tones are also provided by What’s on Weibo.

1. 中国梦
Zhōngguó mèng
China dream

2. 不忘初心
Bù wàng chūxīn
Stay true to the mission

3. 两个一百年
Liǎng gè yībǎi nián
Two centenary goals

4. 新常态
Xīn chángtài
New normal

5. 中国制造2025
Zhōngguó zhìzào 2025
Made in China 2025

6. “双一流”
Shuāng yīliú
Double First-Class initiative

7. 工匠精神
Gōngjiàng jīngshén
Craftsmanship spirit

8. 中国天眼:500米口径球面射电望远镜(FAST)
Zhōngguó tiānyǎn:500 Mǐ kǒujìng qiúmiàn shèdiàn wàngyuǎnjìng (FAST)
China’s Eye of Heaven: The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

9. 歼-20战斗机
Jiān-20 zhàndòujī
J-20 Stealth Fighter

10. 国产航母
Guóchǎn hángmǔ
Domestically built aircraft carrier

11. 国产客机
Guóchǎn kèjī
Homemade passenger jet

12. 可燃冰试采
Kěrán bīng shì cǎi
Sampling of combustible ice

13. 量子卫星”墨子号”
Liàngzǐ wèixīng “mò zi hào”
Quantum satellite “Micius”

14. 北斗卫星导航系统
Běidǒu wèixīng dǎoháng xìtǒng
Beidou navigation system

15. 风云四号A星卫星
Fēngyún sì hào A xīng wèixīng
Fengyun-4A satellite

16. 重型运载火箭
Zhòngxíng yùnzài huǒjiàn
Heavy-lift Carrier Rocket

17. 沪港通
Hù gǎng tōng
Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect

18. 深港通
Shēn gǎng tōng
Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect

19. 京津冀一体化
Jīng jīn jì yītǐ huà
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration

20. 雄安新区
Xióng ān xīnqū
Xiong’an New Area

21. 自贸实验区
Zì mào shíyàn qū
Pilot Free Trade Zones

22. 医疗改革
Yīliáo gǎigé
Medical Reform

23. 供给侧改革
Gōngjǐ cè gǎigé
Supply-side reform

24. 扫脸支付
Sǎo liǎn zhīfù
Face scan payment

25. 二维码支付
Èr wéi mǎ zhīfù
Two-dimensional barcode payment

26. 人工智能
Réngōng zhìnéng
Artificial intelligence

27. 虚拟现实
Xūnǐ xiànshí
Virtual reality

28. 5G时代
5G shídài
5G era

29. 分享经济
Fēnxiǎng jīngjì
Sharing economy

30. 互联网金融
Hùliánwǎng jīnróng
Online finance

31. 亚投行
Yà tóuháng
Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank

32. 低碳城市
Dī tàn chéngshì
Low-carbon cities

33. 一小时通通勤圈
Yī xiǎoshí tōng tōngqín quān
One-hour commuting circle

34. 蓝色经济
Lán sè jīngjì
Blue economy

35. 纵向横向经济轴带
Zòngxiàng héngxiàng jīngjì zhóu dài
North-south and east-west intersecting economic belts

36. 众创、众包、众扶、众筹
Zhòng chuàng, zhòng bāo, zhòng fú, zhòng chóu
Crowd innovation, crowdsourcing,crowd support and crowdfunding.

37. 战略性新兴产业
Zhànlüè xìng xīnxīng chǎnyè
Emerging sectors of strategic importance

38. 香港回归祖国20周年
Xiānggǎng huíguī zǔguó 20 zhōunián
The 20th anniversary of Hong-Kong’s return to China

39. 点赞
Diǎn zàn
Give a like

40.自媒体
Zì méitǐ
We-Media

41. 实名认证
Shímíng rènzhèng
Real name authentication

42. 精准扶贫
Jīngzhǔn fúpín
Targeted poverty reduction

43. 精准医疗
Jīngzhǔn yīliáo
Precision medicine

44. 利益共同体
Lìyì gòngtóngtǐ
Community of shared interests

45. 轨道交通
Guǐdào jiāotōng
Rail traffic

46. 动车
Dòngchē
Bullet train

47. 城际列车
Chéng jì lièchē
Inter-city transport

48. “一带一路”倡议
“Yīdài yīlù”chàngyì
Belt and Road Initiative

49. “丝绸之路经济带”
“Sīchóu zhī lù jīngjì dài”
The Silk Road Economic Belt

50. 21世纪海上丝绸之路
21 Shìjì hǎishàng sīchóu zhī lù
21st- Century Maritime Silk Road

51. 古丝绸之路
Gǔ sīchóu zhī lù
The Ancient Silk Road

52. 互联互通
Hùlián hùtōng
Establish and Strengthen Partnerships/Connectivity

53. 文化自信
Wénhuà zìxìn
Cultural confidence

54. 新型大国关系
Xīnxíng dàguó guānxì
New type of major-power relationship

55. 可替代能源汽车
Kě tìdài néngyuán qìchē
Alternative energy vehicle

56. 可载人无人机
Kě zài rén wú rén jī
Passenger-carrying drone

57. 空中上网服务
Kōngzhōng shàngwǎng fúwù
In-flight Wifi services

58. 海外购外
Hǎiwài gòu wài
Overseas shopping representative

59. 海淘
Hǎi táo
Cross-border online shopping

60. 多次往返签证
Duō cì wǎngfǎn qiānzhèng
Multiple entry visa

61. 散客
Sǎn kè
Individual traveler

62. 自由行
Zìyóu xíng
Independent travel

63. 跟团游
Gēn tuán yóu
Package tour

64.深度游
Shēndù yóu
In-depth travel

65. 自驾游
Zìjià yóu
Self-driving tours

66. 免税店
Miǎnshuì diàn
Duty-free store

67. 无现金支付
Wú xiànjīn zhīfù
Cashless payment

68. 旺季
Wàngjì
Peak season

69. 淡季
Dànjì
Offseason

70. 反腐剧
Fǎnfǔ jù
Anti-corruption TV series

71. 合拍片
Hépāi piàn
Co-production

72. 打车软件
Dǎchē ruǎnjiàn
Taxi-hailing app

73. 代驾服务业
Dài jià fúwù yè
Designated driver business

74. 单双号银行
Dān shuāng hào yínháng
Traffic restrictions based on even- and odd-numbered license plates

75. 共享汽车
Gòngxiǎng qìchē
Car-sharing

76. 绿色金融改革新试验区
Lǜsè jīnróng gǎigé xīn shìyàn qū
Pilot zones for green finance reform and innovations

77. 超国民待遇
Chāo guómín dàiyù
Super-national treatment

78. 现代医院管理制度
Xiàndài yīyuàn guǎnlǐ zhìdù
Modern hospital management system

79. 机遇之城
Jīyù zhī chéng
Cities of opportunities

80.直播经济
Zhíbò jīngjì
Live stream economy

81. 互联网+政府服务
Hùliánwǎng +zhèngfǔ fúwù
Internet Plus government services

82. 创新型政府
Chuàngxīn xíng zhèngfǔ
Pro-innovation government

83. 无人机紧急救援队
Wú rén jī jǐnjí jiùyuán duì
UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) emergency rescue team

84. 二孩经济
Èr hái jīngjì
Second-child economy

85.父亲假;陪产假
Fùqīn jià; péi chǎnjià
Paternity leave

86. 带薪休假
Dài xīn xiūjià
Paid leave

87. 低头族
Dītóu zú
Phubber

88. 副中心
Fù zhōngxīn
Subcenter

89. 用了洪荒之力
Yòngle hónghuāng zhī lì
Give one’s full play

90. 营改增
Yíng gǎi zēng
Replace business tax with value-add tax (VAT)

91. 创新型人才
Chuàngxīn xíng réncái
Innovative talent

92. 积分落户制度
Jīfēn luòhù zhìdù
Points-based hukou system

93. 混合所有制改革
Hùnhé suǒyǒuzhì gǎigé
Mixed-ownership reform

94. 税收减免
Shuìshōu jiǎnmiǎn
Tax reduction and exemption

95. 生态保护红线
Shēngtài bǎohù hóngxiàn
Ecological wealth

96. 网约车
Wǎng yuē chē
Online car-hailing

97. 宜居城市
Yí jū chéngshì
Habitable city

98. 移动支付
Yídòng zhīfù
Mobile payment

99. 电子竞技
Diànzǐ jìngjì
E-sports

100. 双创人才
Shuāng chuàng réncái
Innovative and entrepreneutrial talent

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

Pet Hotels are Booming Business in Beijing

Chinese pet lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet a comfortable stay at one of Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ (宠物酒店).

Qing Yan

Published

on

The success of luxurious pet lodging in Beijing has become especially apparent over the past October holiday. Chinese animal lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet the time of their lives while they are out of town.

For loving pet owners, before heading out on a holiday, finding a trustworthy pet lodge is often just as important as finding a comfortable hotel for themselves. And nowadays, both should be booked as early as possible during a holiday season.

In Beijing, the booming business of pet lodging was especially noticeable during the Golden Week holiday. Various Chinese media reported that pet hotels in Beijing have become so popular that they were already fully booked a month before the holiday started.

This is also what Zhang Wen, a local pet lodge owner, told Beijing Youth Daily (@北京青年报). He and his colleagues are specialized in tending to every possible need of Beijing’s household pets while their families are taking a holiday.

Some pet hotels now charge as high as 900 RMB (±136$) per day to lodge a pet. The pet lodging business is quickly expanding across Beijing. Some local residents now also improvise lodging facilities in their private homes, asking approximately 30-50 RMB (±5-8$) per day.

With a growing demand for comfortable lodges for family pets, Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ are increasingly competitive. Some offer private rooms for dogs and assign a member of staff for every pet to look after its diet, sanitation, cleaning, and exercise.

Some pet hotels are even equipped with sporting, beauty, bathing, and water purification facilities, resembling a five-star hotel. Non-traditional pets such as spiders and lizards are also welcome, as long as their owners clarify their routines in advance.

Criticism on luxurious pet hotels

On Weibo, the topic “Luxurious Pet Hotel Charges 900 RMB Per Day” (#豪华宠物酒店900一天#) received some 15 million views this October.

The news, which was first reported by Beijing Youth Daily, stirred discussions on social media. Although many people find the pet hotels cute or funny, there are also many who comment that this kind of extravagance for pets painfully points out the rich-poor divide in China.

“Dogs are living a better life than us humans now,” some said: “I can’t even stay at a hotel that is this expensive.”

One netizen sarcastically commented: “If you can’t afford housing in Beijing, just go and become a pet to someone here.”

Some even find the boom in luxurious pet hotels a worrying trend, saying “this will intensify the social conflicts.”

Besides the extravagant pet spoiling, there are also other reasons why netizens criticize the spread of fancy pet lodging. On social media, questions over epidemic issues are also surfacing.

Some companies that were interviewed by Chinese media failed to show any credentials for providing lodging services and had no in-house veterinary to offer health examinations for the pets taken in; China currently does not have a specific national legal framework nor corresponding regulatory measures for qualified pet lodgings.

By Qing Yan

Edited by Manya Koetse.
©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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