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Japanese Gold Medalist Becomes a Meme in China after Controversial Men’s Gymnastics All-Around

Weibo’s Olympic meme machine has begun!

Wendy Huang

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The Olympic Games are in full swing and Chinese social media users are building on their meme collections as online discussions are getting more intense on Weibo – especially when it comes to competitions between China and Japan.

Japanese athlete Daiki Hashimoto (橋本 大輝) won the gold for men’s gymnastics individual all-around on the sixth day of the Tokyo Olympics. China’s Xiao Ruoteng (肖若腾), who had been leading the competition in the first five rotations, claimed the silver medal after the team’s inquiry over his score of 14.066 in the last rotation was rejected.

Online discussions arose as videos and pictures of Hashimoto’s landing pose in the vaulting event were shared by some netizens on Weibo, questioning if Hashimoto deserves a score of 14.7 as he failed to end with a stable landing.

A video made by Shanghai Oriental Sports Daily compares the performances of the two athletes and shows how the scoring leaves people confused; the two gymnasts performed the same routine and ended in completely different poses (land firmly vs. stumble while landing and stepping out of line), yet they only had a score difference of 0.166.

Some Chinese gymnasts also posted on Weibo and hinted at the scoring controversy.

Li Xiaopeng (李小鹏), the male gymnast who currently holds 16 world titles, called the result “a pity” in a Weibo post published on July 28. He wrote: “Congratulations on the second place. The fact is not that I do not understand [the game] – it’s that I understand it all too well.”

Gymnast Chen Yibing (陈一冰), four-time world champion on still rings who himself experienced disputed scoring at the 2012 Summer Olympics, wrote: “No matter what the result is, Sun Wei and Xiao Ruoteng are perfect! Xiao Ruoteng IS the champion.”

More than 10 related hashtags appeared in the top 30 of Weibo’s top search list after the competition, even though it was already late at night in China. The hashtag relating to the judges of the Olympic gymnastics (#体操裁判#) received about 640 million views.


A screenshot of the Weibo’s trending list at Beijing Time 11:15 pm on July 28, showing 12 hashtags related to the competition of Men’s Gymnastics Individual All-Around.

Online discussions on the controversial gymnastics’ scoring then shifted, setting off a wave of content creation. Some memes mocking the new champion’s landing pose in the event of vault went viral on Weibo.


I am the champion


See, I got 14.7 points with this.”


I split, I step out of line, but I got 14.7 and I am the world champion.”


Let me go down and pick up a gold medal.”


Judge: This is perfect! The feet are still on the ground! 14.7!

This is not the first controversy that generated heated discussions and set off a meme machine on Weibo since the Summer Olympics kicked off.

Monday’s mixed doubles table tennis final between China and Japan (Jun Mizutani/Mima Ito vs Xin Xu/Shiwen Liu) also became a major topic, especially because the Chinese players were defeated by their Japanese counterparts and won silver instead of gold. For the past 14 years, China had monopolized the gold medals in table tennis.

One moment that stood out is when Xu Xin (许昕), a Chinese professional table tennis player who is ranked world’s No. 2 for men’s singles by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), entertained social media users by holding his breath immediately after he realized he was going to blow on the ping pong ball (see video here).


Xu Xin Wants to Blow, Then Stops

He did so because of the new anti-epidemic rules during the Tokyo Olympics. Some of these regulations include that players are not allowed to touch the game table with their hands and that they are not allowed to blow on the ball.

The hashtag “Xu Xin Wants to Blow, Then Stops” (#许昕欲吹又止#) that described Xu’s cautiousness went trending and generating about 450 million views on Weibo.

Another related hashtag is “Jun Mizutani Blows on the Ball” (#水谷隼吹球#). The hashtag is about the moment when the Japanese table tennis player blows on the ball during the event but does not receive a warning from judges (see video here). The hashtag has so far generated about 820 million views on Weibo.


Jun Mizutani Blows on the Ball

Going against COVID19 regulations, Japanese table tennis player Mima Itō also touched the table several times, but the referee apparently did not notice or turned a blind eye. This also led to a Weibo hashtag page (#伊藤美诚也多次摸球桌#) and several memes.

Another hashtag, “Japanese Players Swimming on the Chinese Players” (#日本选手压在中国选手身上游# ), describes another moment during the Olympics that happened during the Chinese and Japanese women’s water polo team competition on July 28, when a Chinese player was pushed underwater by a Japanese player while swimming. Some Weibo users suggested the move was dangerous and ‘could have killed’ her (see video here).

As the Games continue, the meme collections grow as online discussions are getting more intense on Weibo – especially when it comes to competitions between China and Japan.

In response to the ongoing controversies, the Central Communist Youth League of China (@共青团中央) published the video of the judges taking the Olympic oath during the opening ceremony and asked: “Have you followed your oath?”

A picture of a training venue for Chinese weightlifters was widely shared on Weibo because the slogan on the wall says: “To win a clean gold medal” (#中国选手的训练场馆 拿干净金牌#).

Chinese netizens applauded this principle of a ‘clean’ victory and have started to use the picture to call for fewer tricks during the rest of the Olympic competitions.

By Wendy Huang

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

Wendy Huang is a China-based Beijing Language and Culture University graduate who currently works for a Public Relations & Media software company. She believes that, despite the many obstacles, Chinese social media sites such as Weibo can help Chinese internet users to become more informed and open-minded regarding various social issues in present-day China.

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China Brands & Marketing

About Lipstick King’s Comeback and His ‘Mysterious’ Disappearance

After Li Jiaqi’s return to livestreaming, the ‘tank cake incident’ has become the elephant in the room on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this week, the return of China’s famous livestreamer Li Jiaqi, also known as the ‘Lipstick King’, became a hot topic on Chinese social media where his three-month ‘disappearance’ from the social commerce scene triggered online discussions.

He is known as Austin Li, Lipstick King, or Lipstick Brother, but most of all he is known as one of China’s most successful e-commerce livestreaming hosts.

After being offline for over 100 days, Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) finally came back and did a livestreaming session on September 20th, attracting over 60 million viewers and selling over $17 million in products.

The 30-year-old beauty influencer, a former L’Oreal beauty consultant, rose to fame in 2017 after he became a successful livestreamer focusing on lipstick and other beauty products.

Li broke several records during his live streaming career. In 2018, he broke the Guinness World Record for “the most lipstick applications in 30 seconds.” He once sold 15000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, and also managed to apply 380 different lipsticks in another seven-hour live stream session. Li made international headlines in 2021 when he sold $1.9 billion in goods during a 12-hour-long promotion livestream for Alibaba’s shopping festival.

But during a Taobao livestream on June 3rd of this year, something peculiar happened. After Li Jiaqi and his co-host introduced an interestingly shaped chocolate cake – which seemed to resemble a tank, – a male assistant in the back mentioned something about the sound of shooting coming from a tank (“坦克突突”).

Although Li Jiaqi and the others laughed about the comment, Li also seemed a bit unsure and the woman next to him then said: “Stay tuned for 23:00 to see if Li Jiaqi and I will still be in this position.”

The session then suddenly stopped, and at 23:38 that night Li wrote on Weibo that the channel was experiencing some “technical problems.”

But those “technical problems” lasted, and Li did not come back. His June 3rd post about the technical problems would be the last one on his Weibo account for the months to come.

The ‘cake tank incident’ (坦克蛋糕事件) occurred on the night before June 4, the 33rd anniversary of the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student demonstrations. The iconic image of the so-called ‘tank man‘ blocking the tanks at Tiananmen has become world famous and is censored on China’s internet. The control of information flows is especially strict before and on June 4, making Li’s ‘tank cake incident’ all the more controversial.

But no official media nor the official Li Jiaqi accounts acknowledged the tank cake incident, and his absence remained unexplained. Meanwhile, there was a silent acknowledgment among netizens that the reason Li was not coming online anymore was related to the ‘tank cake incident.’

During Li’s long hiatus, fans flocked to his Weibo page where they left thousands of messages.

“I’m afraid people have been plotting against you,” many commenters wrote, suggesting that the cake was deliberately introduced by someone else during the livestream as a way to commemorate June 4.

Many fans also expressed their appreciation of Li, saying how watching his streams helped them cope with depression or cheered them up during hard times. “What would we do without you?” some wrote. Even after 80 days without Li Jiaqi’s livestreams, people still commented: “I am waiting for you every day.”

On September 21st, Li Jiaqi finally – and somewhat quietly – returned and some people said they were moved to see their lipstick hero return to the livestream scene.

Although many were overjoyed with Li’s return, it also triggered more conversations on why he had disappeared and what happened to him during the 3+ months of absence. “He talked about a sensitive topic,” one commenter said when a Weibo user asked about Li’s disappearance.

One self-media accountpublished a video titled “Li Jiaqi has returned.” The voiceover repeatedly asks why Li would have disappeared and even speculates about what might have caused it, without once mentioning the tank cake.

“This cracks me up,” one commenter wrote: “On the outside we all know what’s going on, on the inside there’s no information whatsoever.”

“It’s tacit mutual understanding,” some wrote. “It’s the elephant in the room,” others said.

Some people, however, did not care about discussing Li’s disappearance at all anymore and just expressed joy about seeing him again: “It’s like seeing a good friend after being apart for a long time.”

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by @karishea and @kaffeebart.

 

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China and Covid19

Happiest Lockdown in China: Guests Undergo Mandatory Quarantine at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

“I wish I could be quarantined at Disney too!” The Shanghai Disney hotel apparently is the happiest place to get locked in.

Manya Koetse

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While many cities across China are experiencing new (partial) lockdowns and millions of people are confined to their homes, there was also a group of people that had to undergo mandatory quarantine at a very special place: the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

On September 7, social media posts started surfacing online from people who said they were required to quarantine while they were at the Shanghai Disneyland hotel. Disneyland reportedly had received a notification from the local health authorities that a visitor who previously stayed at the Disneyland hotel was found to be a close contact of a newly confirmed Covid case.

In line with the Center for Disease Control requirements, Disney created a ‘closed loop system’ by locking in all hotel residents and staff members and doing daily Covid tests. While the Disneyland theme park was open as usual, the hotel became a temporary isolation site where people’s health would be monitored for the next few days while all staff members would also be screened.

During their mandatory quarantine, guests stayed at the hotel for free and did not need to pay for their rooms. Room prices at the Shanghai Disneyland hotel start at around 3000 yuan/night ($433).

Some guests shared photos of their Disneyland quarantine stay on social media, showing how Disney staff provided them with free breakfast, lunch, a surprise afternoon tea, delicious dinner, fun snacks, and Disney toys and stickers.

On the Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) app, one Shanghai Disney visitor (nickname @恶霸小提莫) wrote: “We have three meals a day, there is both Chinese and Western-style breakfast, we also get afternoon tea and desserts, they have shrimp, beef, scallops, drinks, French macarons, yogurt, ice cream, and much more. We watched so many Disney movies for free. We are given so many little gifts, they brought us gifts twice today as they also brought us toy figures at night. We watch the fireworks from our windows every night at 8.30 pm. Although we weren’t allowed to go out, we really had a pleasant stay.”

Another Disney guest named Zoea (Xiaohongshu ID: yiya0313) also shared many photos of the mandatory quarantine and wrote: “When the staff knocked on the door to tell me they were bringing dinner, I even wondered how it was possible that they brought food again. Afternoon tea during quarantine, can you believe it? And fruit before dinner? And midnight snacks brought to us after dinner? And it was so nice to watch all the Disney movies on tv. Disney really is the most magical place.”

“I’m just so happy,” another locked-in Disney guest posted on social media, sharing pictures of Mickey Mouse cakes.

Other guests also posted about their experiences on social media. “They probably feared we would get bored so they brought us glue, stickers, and painting brushes, the kids loved it and so did we!”

Reading about the happy quarantine at Disney, many Weibo users responded that they envied the guests, writing: “I wish I could be quarantined at Disney too.”

“I need to find a way to get in, too,” others wrote.

Earlier this year, one Chinese woman shared her story of being quarantined inside a hotpot restaurant for three days. Although many people also envied the woman, who could eat all she wanted during her stay, she later said she felt like she had enough hotpot for the rest of her life.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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