The Japanese cosmetics company SK-II released its new campaign film on April 6, which attracted over 1.2 million views on Chinese video platform Youku within a day. The film, titled ‘She Finally Goes to the Marriage Corner’, seems to have touched the hearts of many “leftover women” in China.
“I will not die unless you get married!”
In China, marriage often comes with social and familial pressure. This holds particularly true for women. Once over 25, single girls are soon tagged “leftover women” (剩女), and the immense pressure to marry comes into play.
The pressure reveals itself in various ways. Parents suddenly seize every opportunity to investigate your ‘relationship status’, and vague relatives show their surprise upon hearing still single. Married friends become the ‘perfect examples’ that pop up during dinner talk: “Look at ***, her child can go buy soy sauce now!” Spring Festival, usually the time for family cosiness, turns into a nightmare where you are constantly bombarded with questions and unwanted advice concerning your marital status. You may even find yourself in an awkward situation where you are lured into meeting a total stranger on a blind date.
But it is always the parents who are the most concerned. In the ad campaign, moms and dads express their worries over their single daughters, saying “don’t be so picky!”, “you’re already a leftover woman now”, “please get this solved as soon as possible”, and: “one day your single status will be a heavy burden to our heart”. The most serious of these concerns appears in the beginning of the film, where a man’s voice says resolutely: “Father will not die unless you get married!” (“你一天不结婚，父亲就一天不死”)
Marriage Corner, People’s Square, Shanghai
Why is marriage so important in China? In SK-II’s campaign, it is mainly explained through Chinese culture, where the traditional view holds marriage as an indispensable part of life, and where there’s a conception that only married women are ‘real’ women. Another cultural aspect is the Confucian philosophy of filial piety, a virtue of respect for one’s father. Not getting married is perceived as a defiance of filial piety.
The SK-II ad campaign that has gone viral on Chinese social media.
The pressure to marry becomes real tangible at the ‘marriage corner’ in People’s Square, Shanghai. For several years, parents get together at People’s Square at weekends. They write their children’s information on a piece of paper, including their appearance, job, income, education, and whether they have an apartment or a car. Parents can then look if any of the posted persons fits their ideal of the perfect son- or daughter-in-law. In 2014, an app named “Marriage Corner at People’s Square” was even published for iOS systems, allowing parents to continue their search online.
Although the marriage corner is a popular spot for parents helping their kids look for a partner, young people are generally not particularly enthusiastic about this idea. In the ad campaign, one woman says the marriage posts are like “commercial advertisement to sell a product.”
“I don’t want to marry for marriage’s sake. I will not be happy.”
In the final part of the video, the featured “leftover women” decide to go to the Marriage Corner themselves. Not to surrender to the pressure and settle on a husband, but to make their own “advertisements” with smiling pictures, saying: “I don’t want to marry for marriage’s sake; even single, I have a happy life which I love.”
‘Confident’, ‘independent’, ‘life-loving’ – that is how these women define themselves. One father responds saying: “If she is happy with being single, we will respect her choice.”
Chinese netizens have collectively expressed their support for the women in the film. One netizen says, “Whether I am married or not is nobody’s business… even if I don’t marry until I’m 80, as long as I am happy, my dad has no say in it.”
Many also write about their wish to be the boss over their own marriage choice. Another netizen says: “Our society has always taught women how to lower their heads; it has never really respected women (..). I wish all girls live a happy, confident and courageous life!”
Calling for change in traditional view on women
The popularity of SK-II’s ad campaign is not surprising. Its chosen topic is a hot topic in China recently, as discussions about traditional views on women regularly flare up on social media.
On March 26, the story of a 27-year girl attempting suicide due to marriage pressure triggered heated discussions on Weibo. Many netizens identified with the girl, and told of their own experiences of being ‘forced to marry’ (逼婚).
Earlier this week, a heated discussion erupted about how society treats women, after the attack of a woman in a Beijing hotel.
Popular Weibo accounts such as Women’s Rights Voice post daily updates on women in China, their portrayal in the media, and gender equality.
Meanwhile, the SK-II video is still being shared and discussed on Chinese (social) media. Many netizens praise the brand for its smart marketing, others only see the message it brings: “Don’t let other people determine your future for you.”
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The Huawei Case Sparks Anti-American, “Support Huawei” Sentiments on Weibo
“Ever since all the news came out on Meng Wanzhou’s arrest I feel like this is Cold War 2.0,” some commenters say.
The case involving Huawei and Meng Wanzhou is making international headlines today, now that the US Justice Department has officially filed charges against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.
Among many other things, US prosecutors allege that Huawei launched a formal policy in which bonuses were offered to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from competitors (full papers here, page 19).
The Department also filed criminal charges against Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), who is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei (任正非). The US is seeking the extradition of Meng Wanzhou from Canada.
Meng was detained in Canada on December 1st of 2018 during transit at the Vancouver airport at the request of United States officials. She was released on bail on December 11. Meng’s next court date is set for February 6, 2019, in Vancouver.
“To the Chinese who proclaim that the American lawsuit against Huawei makes sense, where’s your conscience?”
Huawei responded to the accusations in state media on Tuesday, saying they were “very disappointed” about the charges, and denying that Huawei, nor its affiliates, had committed violations of US law.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the US to revoke its charges against Meng and to “stop the unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies, including Huawei, and to treat Chinese enterprises objectively and fairly.”
Meanwhile, on Chinese social media platform Weibo, the hashtag “Huawei responds to US accusations” (#华为回应美国指控#) received some 1,5 million views on Tuesday.
Among hundreds of comments, many netizens express their apparent belief that the United States is using the judicial system in a battle that is actually politically motivated, and that China’s rise as a competing technological power plays a major role in this issue.
“America has no confidence in its own technological power anymore, and has come to a point of such weakness that China’s technological strength is frightening to them,” one commenter named ‘Battle Wolf Wang Jie’ (@战狼-王杰) said.
“The goal of the US clearly is to suppress Huawei and its 5G technology, it is a fight over leadership,” one commenter wrote.
One popular Weibo tech blogging account (@科技阿宽) described the US as “a cornered dog jumping over a wall” (“狗急跳墙”), a Chinese idiom for describing desperate people resorting to desperate measures. This idiom was also used by other Weibo users commenting on the Huawei issue.
“Ever since all the news came out on the Meng Wanzhou arrest I feel like this is Cold War 2.0,” a Weibo user named Wei Zhong (@卫中) wrote about the issue: “This arms race in the field of technology can’t be avoided, and it will spread to other fields, posing a challenge to America’s leading position.”
But there are also commenters who want to know more about whether there are reasonable grounds to believe Huawei and Meng actually committed a crime: “So did they, or didn’t they?”
“Huawei needs to operate in accordance with international laws, otherwise there will be no end to the trouble,” some said, with others adding: “If they did nothing wrong, they shouldn’t be afraid to face the Americans.”
The editor-in-chief of the Chinese and English Global Times, Hu Xijin (胡锡进), called out those who suggested that the US might have sound legal grounds for the charges, writing on Weibo: “To the Chinese who proclaim today that the American lawsuit against Huawei makes sense, where’s your conscience? Have your brains been eaten by the dogs?”
“Was the Canadian Ambassador sacked for speaking the truth?”
The Huawei case news story has been developing and has been a topic of discussion ever since Meng’s arrest in December. A social media post issued by Meng shortly after her arrest became one of the biggest trending topics on Weibo of 2018.
The news that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing on December 10th of 2018 also generated online discussions on the Huawei issue, with many linking his arrest to Meng’s case.
Earlier this week, the dismissal of the Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, also became big news.
McCallum’s exit was preceded by his different interview comments on the Meng Wanzhou case. He told Chinese-language journalists that Meng had “strong arguments that she can make before a judge,” and reportedly told The Star‘s Joanna Chiu that it would be “great” if the US could drop the request for Meng’s extradition.
On social media, news of McCallum’s dismissal was shared hundreds of times this week. In response to the case, Chinese columnist Sun Bo published an article titled “Was the Canadian Ambassador sacked for Speaking the Truth?” in The Observer (观察者). On Weibo, similar attitudes are expressed, with many arguing that McCallum was punished for simply “expressing his thoughts.”
Some netizens argued that McCallum had been “set up” by the interviewer and that he had said nothing wrong. One Weibo user simply argued: “If America would no longer request Meng’s extradition, then Canada would not need to detain Meng and would not need to become hostile with China, which would also be better for Canada.”
A recurring sentiment expressed by netizens on the issue was that McCallum’s dismissal clashed with Canada’s “so-called freedom of speech,” although there are also other voices stating: “When an ambassador for the government publicly issues their own personal views as they like, they do need to step down.”
“He talked about how we should support Huawei, but sent it from his iPhone.”
Amid all discussions on Weibo (where some comment threads jumped from having some hundreds comments to “no comments” and then reopened with some hundred comments again), the support for Huawei is one sentiment that stands out.
“I will stand by Huawei,” many commenters write across various threads.
“I support Huawei! America and Canada need to set Meng free!”
Others call for a boycott on Apple and American products, urging Chinese netizens to purchase Huawei instead.
There are also some, however, who point out there is some hypocrisy behind some of these statements: “I just saw a ‘Huawei defender,'”, popular tech blogger ‘Keji Xinyi’ (@科技新一) writes: “He was talking about how we should support the made-in-China Huawei brand, and that Huawei is China’s pride, that Huawei will astonish the world. Then I saw his Weibo post was sent from an iPhone.”
Others joke around: “I support Huawei! I use the Honor 7 [device] by Huawei. I absolutely will not buy an iPhone. It’s too expensive and I can’t afford it.”
Jokes aside, the Huawei case is certainly one that will continue to be discussed in many corners of Chinese social media, with many expressing concern on how this case will develop in the future – as it is not likely to blow over any time soon.
“The law will rule based on evidence,” some commenters write: “So let’s just wait and see.”
By Manya Koetse
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China’s Peppa Pig Movie Promo Craze: Understanding the Video and the Trend Behind It
Why Peppa is breaking the Chinese internet.
China’s Peppa Pig movie promo video might already be one of Weibo’s biggest trending topics of the year.
To know more about this video and its background, check out our full latest video featured here, explaining the trend in full detail – the original video lacks English subs, so we explain the video from A-Z there.
Check it out, and please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you’d like to see more explanations of Chinese trends through video.
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