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China Memes & Viral

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

Weibo’s Olympic meme machine has begun!

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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

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©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 Arts & Entertainment

China Association of Performing Arts Issues Online Influencer ‘Warning List’ with 88 Names

China’s canceled celebrities won’t be able to turn to live streaming once they’re on this black list.

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On November 23rd, the China Association of Performing Arts issued a so-called “warning list” of 88 names of internet personalities who have been reported and registered for their bad behavior. The people on the list have either violated the law or their actions have allegedly negatively impacted society and public order.

The moral responsibility of Chinese idols became a much-discussed topic earlier this year when various celebrities came under fire for sexual misconduct, tax evasion, or other controversies.

Chinese celebrities Wu Yifan (吴亦凡, aka Kris Wu), Zheng Shuang (郑爽), and Zhang Zhehan (张哲瀚) are also on the current version of the list. They previously made headlines in China; Chinese-Canadian pop star Wu Yifan was detained over rape allegations, actress Zheng Shuang was caught up in a surrogacy scandal and was fined $46 million for tax evasion, and actor Zhang Zhehan caused controversy over photos of him posing at historically sensitive places in Japan.

Wu Yifan, Zheng Shuang, and Zhang Zhehan.

This is the ninth list issued by the live streaming branch of the China Association of Performing Arts, which first started its “blacklist management system” (“黑名单”管理制度) in February of 2018.

According to an interview by People’s Daily with a spokesperson of the association, they further revised the management system in 2020 and then formed the so-called “Management Measures for the Warning and Return of Online Hosts” (网络主播警示与复出管理办法).

This year, Chinese (online) entertainers have faced tighter scrutiny since China’s Propaganda Department and other authorities have placed more importance on their societal influence as role models.

Although the list issued by the Association’s livestreaming branch focuses on online presenters and bloggers, it also includes other performers who already had a bad record. Chinese celebrities who have faced controversy will sometimes switch from acting or singing to the live streaming industry in order to generate an income. The new measures make it more difficult for ‘canceled celebrities‘ to make a comeback as a live streamer.

This also means we won’t be seeing Zhang Zhehan, Kris Wu, or Zheng Shuang on live streaming channels any time soon, as their inclusion on the list has basically banned them from the industry.

Since 2018, a total of 446 online celebrities/streamers have been put on one of these blacklists.

The topic became top-trending on Sina Weibo on Tuesday, where one hashtag page about the list received over 180 million views, and another one – specifically referring to Wu, Zheng, and Zhang being shut out from the industry – receiving over 630 million clicks (#吴亦凡郑爽张哲瀚被封禁#).

Many commenters wondered about why some names weren’t on the list, such as Chen Lingtao (@Cloud_陈令韬), who recently came under fire for cheating. “Of all the 88 people on the list, there are 85 I don’t know,” one commenter said.

Besides the three biggest celebrities, there are also names on the current list such as Tik Tok (Douyin) celebrity Tie Shankao (铁山靠) or online streamer ‘Teacher Guo’ (郭老师). Guo was popular on Tik Tok (Douyin) for rejecting standard beauty norms.

Guo Laoshi (image via Jing Daily).

Guo was removed from Chinese social media in September of this year during the major crackdown on Chinese celebrity circles. Now that she is included on the list together with 87 others, her return to the livestreaming industry is very unlikely.

Update: Read Li Xuezheng Defies Online Celebrity ‘Blacklist,’ Says He’ll Help Zhang Zhehan File Lawsuit

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

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China Memes & Viral

The Dissertation Acknowledgement That Went Viral on Chinese Social Media

“I knew I would always remember the sacrifice my brother made for me. But looking back, it was just the first of many sacrifices my brother would make.”

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A ‘thank you’ section in a PhD thesis has gone viral on Chinese social media these days, moving many netizens to tears.

The dissertation acknowledgments by Southeast University PhD student Zhong Jitao (仲济涛) started circulating on Weibo and beyond. The thank-you section was written by the Civil Engineering PhD candidate Zhong Jitao (仲济涛), who is now an associate professor at the Shandong University of Science and Technology. It was published in People’s Daily ‘Nightly Reading’ column before it went viral.

By now, the hashtag dedicated to the dissertation acknowledgment has been viewed over 170 million times on Weibo (#这篇博士论文致谢刷屏了#).

This is a translation of the acknowledgment (translation by What’s on Weibo*):

 

————————————————

1. Studying By Heart

“My hometown is a small rural village in the east of the Shandong Peninsula. When I was young, the village saw its first PhD graduate. In the depths of my carefree childhood memories, that was one of the few intense spiritual shocks.

When I attended my second year of high school, my dad fell ill and I experienced a sudden increase in stress. By the time I was a third-year student, I started to withdraw and I didn’t feel like going to university anymore. Later I couldn’t stand to see the disappointed expressions on my family’s face and I reluctantly entered an undergraduate program. I thought I would start working as soon as I graduated from college.

Later, my dad’s condition gradually improved, and I continued my studies as a graduate student. I thought I would stop studying as soon as I’d finish graduate school, and that I would hurry to find a job to share some of the burdens with my older brother. Eventually, I still continued my studies as a PhD student. If I look back on this curious turn of events, I feel guilty about my own selfishness and callousness. Step by step up to today, if the external factor was the relentless support of my parents and brother, behind their silence, then the internal factor perhaps was that one moment of spiritual shock.

2. My Brother as Father

The grass can’t repay the kindness of the warm sun. There are not enough words to thank my parents. Besides them, I’d like to express my thanks to my brother, who is seven years older than me. Perhaps it’s because he is so many years older than me that I’ve always felt that my older brother is somewhat like a father to me.

In the third year of elementary school, my brother faced the choice of getting into senior high school or getting into a vocational secondary school. If he’d go to senior high school, he would be able to get into university, but it would take several years of studying and several years of paying tuition fees. If he’d go to vocational school, there would be less tuition fees and he could start working earlier. It would also mean he’d miss out on the chance of getting into university. Based on my brother’s grades at the time, he could’ve picked either. But to alleviate the financial burden on our family, and mostly for the future studies of me as his little brother, my big brother, without hesitation, went to vocational school at the cost of his own future.

I felt that I would always remember the sacrifice my brother made for me at this time. But looking back on how life unfolded afterward, it was just the beginning of the many sacrifices my brother would make.

Because in the second year of high school, dad fell ill, and my brother, who had just started working, took on all the burden. I didn’t see my brother tossing and turning in bed during all of the sleepless nights, I didn’t see my brother take our dad to all the big and small hospitals in the province and in the city, I just saw my brother’s eyes sinking deeper every day, I saw how he was skin and bones, how his face was as pale as paper, how his hair was disheveled and ash-colored.

And while all of this was happening, I was studying in a warm and quiet classroom, because my brother had assumed all responsibilities.

3. The Lake and Sea Come Together

If I say that besides my dad, my brother is the number one guardian angel in my life, I must also acknowledge my wife and my former classmates.

As I prepared to do my PhD in Nanjing, my then-girlfriend, now wife, just completed her master’s degree. She had to make a choice. Going back to her hometown would mean going to a different place, coming to Nanjing would mean leaving her home. While the situation had me ruminating, my wife’s ticket to Nanjing dispelled all of my worries. We got married during the first year of my PhD. My wife worked every day, I studied every day. The faculty, the dining hall, and the home were our three frontline places. Every weekend, if we weren’t busy, we would go out strolling. If I was busy with studying, my wife would keep me company at the faculty, while also pretending to be a PhD student.

Living in a place far away from home, you’ll always run into people and situations that will upset you, and sometimes you have to deal with a sense of dispiritedness and disappointment. But all the grievances, frustrations, and depressions were dissolved by my wife’s comfort.

Ever since I met my wife, I found my ultimate trust and my home in her. She gave me inner strength, but also helped me grow a sense of responsibility.

4. Don’t Forget the Original Intention

Someone said, even if you can’t change the world, you also cannot let the world change the innocent you. This is perhaps my most lucky point – although time brings great changes and is unpredictable, and I have long ceased to be innocent, I am still me, still with a grateful heart.

Recently, on my train back to school, I was chatting with my brother on WeChat about our concerns regarding dad’s health. My brother replied to me saying: we are the ones to continue our parents’ lives and spirits. The best thing we can do to repay them is to live well and to keep on going. While reading that sentence on a train filled with snoring sounds at 2AM in the morning, tears started streaming down my face. I know my brother wanted to comfort me, and he also wanted to guide me in life. What I can do is definitely not let down those who love me and have placed their hopes in me, yes, I won’t disappoint them.

Time is like electricity, it slips through our fingers like sand. From starting my PhD to defending my dissertation, like a goose’s footprint in the snow – it’s already a part of my past. It’s useless to dwell on past mistakes, but we can still change the future.

In the end, I rarely drink but I will raise my glass; one to honor my parents and the bitter hardships they faced; one to my brother’s iron shoulder; and one to my wife and her steadfast loyalty and unfailing companionship.”

————————————————

 

Many people on social media comment how moved they are by Zhong’s words, and some share their own experiences.

“I’m also a PhD from Shandong Peninsula,” one commenter (@xiaolei雨田) writes: “While I was studying for my PhD, my mum passed away. I always felt guilty towards my parents, and like the author, I felt that studying for my doctorate was selfish, like I was only pursuing my own goals while the people who had silently supported me were passing away. After graduation, I was determined to go back to my hometown to help and take care of the family, making up for those years of regret.”

“This acknowledgment is heartfelt and resonates with so many people,” others write.

There are also those who, while praising Zhong Jitao’s dedication, also worry about the future prospects of other PhD candidates in China who come from impoverished families who have to sacrifice so much for one degree that might not even guarantee a well-paid job in China’s current-day competitive job market.

“This really moved me,” another commenter says: “It’s not easy to complete your PhD, and there’s always people who have your back and support you. When you feel like giving up, it’s their support that keeps you going.”

If you liked this story, you might also like “I Am Fan Yusu” (我是范雨素) (Full Translation) here.

By Manya Koetse

* Please note that this is a translation by What’s on Weibo, not all parts of the text are literal translations and that some sentences have been loosely translated.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

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