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The Impossible Love Story: Nancy Pelosi and Hu Xijin Become Popular Imaginary Couple

When Pelosi met Hu – imagining love in times of U.S.-China escalation risk.

Manya Koetse

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While everybody is watching whether or not Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan (with all recent indications suggesting that she will make a stop on the island), there is still time for some online banter amid growing tensions: Chinese netizens have created a fantasy love affair between U.S. House speaker Pelosi and Chinese Global Times commentator Hu Xijin.

On July 31st, Hu posted an old military photo of himself on Weibo to pay tribute to the active military for August 1st, the annual People’s Liberation Army (PLA) day. “We depend on you to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity and protect the interests of China’s peaceful development,” Hu wrote.

Hu Xijin has been making international headlines this week for his strong condemnation of a potential visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hu suggested that a Taiwan visit by Pelosi would be a clear provocation of China, giving the PLA “good reason” for “waging a war.”

One of Hu’s tweets, in which he voiced the view that U.S. military planes escorting Pelosi to Taiwan could potentially be shot down, was deleted by Twitter on July 30.

Hu Xijin tweet which was deleted by Twitter on July 30.

Hu is an influential Chinese commentator and journalist, who is mostly known for being the former editor-in-chief of the nationalist state media outlet Global Times and his Hu Says political commentary videos on social media. He is also known for his ‘Wold Warrior’-style brash and bold statements, often echoing the Communist Party line.

At this time of great U.S.-China tensions in light of Pelosi’s potential Taiwan trip, there perhaps could not have been a more unimaginable couple than the American Pelosi (aka “Old Witch” 老妖婆) and Chinese Hu (aka “Old Hu” 老胡), yet the moment a netizen photoshopped an ‘old’ wedding photo showing a much younger Nancy Pelosi and Hu Xijin, it immediately went viral.

“The handsome and the beautiful, it’s a good match,” some commenters said, with others calling it a “classic” and a “fine match” between a “talented man and a beautiful woman” (郎才女貌 láng cái nǚ mào).

Others thought “it was not a good deal for Hu,” since Pelosi is twenty years older than him.

“No wonder he always climbs over the wall,” another Weibo user jokingly said.

The practice of imagining a relationship between two famous people or fictional characters, often using photoshop and fan art, is also known as ‘CP,’ an abbreviation for “coupling” or “character pairing.”

Although many netizens seemed to appreciate this CP joke, Chinese blogger ‘Chairman Rabbit’ (兔主席) did not approve of it, writing that the country is facing a serious situation and that this is not an appropriate time to joke around.

Hu Xijin himself, however, did not seem to mind. When someone sent him the ‘wedding photo’ of himself and Pelosi, he responded with three thumbs up.

Also read our latest article on Chinese online views on Pelosi’s potential Taiwan visit here.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Viral Bilibili Video Featuring Rural Carpenter: Disabled & Determined ‘Uncle’ Becomes Chinese Internet Sensation

Yige Caixiang’s touching portrait of his disabled Uncle shows that it’s not about the cards you’re dealt but about how you play them.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese vlogger Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想) posted a short film on Bilibili about his disabled uncle living in a poor rural area in China. This portrait of his resilient and resourceful ‘Uncle’ has touched the hearts of many netizens, and went viral overnight.

A video that was posted on the Chinese video platform Bilibili on Monday, July 25, has gone viral on social media for the inspiring story it tells about a resilient villager who became disabled as a teenager. The video was uploaded by vlogger ‘Yige Caixiang’ (@衣戈猜想) and received over ten million views in a day, becoming the number one video on the Bilibili platform.

“This is my uncle,” the vlogger can be heard saying at the start of the 11:30-minute video, titled “How Uncle Cured My Mental Friction after Being Back in the Village for Three Days” (回村三天,二舅治好了我的精神内耗), introducing his old uncle and grandma standing in front of their home “built at a time when the U.S. didn’t even exist yet.”

While showing footage of family and village life, Yige Caixiang tells about his uncle through a voice-over, recording his own trip to his family’s village by detailing the life of his mother’s brother.

His uncle used to be the brightest kid in school, he tells, always getting top grades. One day, as a teenager, he got sick with a high fever. A doctor in a neighboring village ‘treated’ Uncle with various injections in his backside, after which Uncle could no longer use his leg and ended up being permanently disabled. Feeling depressed and hopeless, he did not return to school and spent weeks lying in bed. The village teachers were unable to convince him to come back to class.

After three years, Uncle stepped outside of the home courtyard for the first time with his crutches. He was inspired to become a carpenter after seeing one at work in the family courtyard, and so he also started doing the same work, and was able to make a living by going around and doing carpentry jobs for villagers. Never formally diagnosed, he was unable to get a disability certificate.

Wanting to visit Tiananmen Square’s Mao memorial hall, Uncle traveled to Beijing one time and ended up staying with a cousin who worked in the military, doing carpentry work for the soldiers, with whom he soon became friends. A military chief even rubbed his back in the public bath house (“people in Beijing are good at rubbing backs,” he’d later say).

But Uncle eventually returned to his village, and was able to attend his sisters’ wedding send-offs and gave them complete furniture sets personally made by him – a rare possession to have for a young rural bride in the 1980s.

Uncle made complete furniture sets.

Besides taking care of his sisters, Uncle also took care of an abandoned village girl named Ning Ning, whom he adopted. By the time she got married, he was able to help the young couple with the down-payment for their new family home, for which he invested half of his life savings.

 
“It is only when they are near the end of their lives that people come to realize that the biggest regret in life is always regretting the past.”
 

When Uncle was in his thirties, he became acquainted with a married lady from a nearby village. Although she had a husband and two daughters, she spent a lot of time with Uncle and even cooked and cleaned for him. Treating her as if she was his own wife, he handed over his weekly pay to her and was happy to have a bowl of rice and a warm house waiting for him after a hard day of work.

But as time went on, she never divorced her husband and other family members started seeing her as an intruder who was just out for his money to support her own family. The young Ning Ning even called her an “old fox.”

The ending of this peculiar love story remains somewhat of a mystery up to this day, Yige Caixiang says. The woman and her husband passed away in a shed due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Uncle never spoke of it again and also never married another woman.

As the decades passed, Uncle took care of his aging mother while still doing carpentry work, often taking him with her around the area. Years before, he once encountered the doctor who tried to ‘cure’ him. If this had happened now, the doctor had said, I would’ve been sued and lost lots of money. But that never would have happened at that time, and it never happened later either.

Grandmother, at 88, is now struggling with her health and does not have the energy to go on living anymore. “In aging and sickness we find a necessary exercise between life and death,” the vlogger reflects (“老病是生死之间的必要演习”), suggesting that the pain of growing old also makes it easier to be at peace when having to part with life.

By now, taking care of his old mother has become a full-time job for Uncle, who cooks for her and washes her face in the morning and bathes her feet at night. Besides that, he is also more than just a carpenter; he is the village handyman, repairing electronic devices, door locks, radios, stoves, and even fixing broken toys of the neighborhood children. When it is necessary, he can be an acupuncturist and a painter, too.

Whenever there is a problem, Uncle will find a way to solve it. There’s just three things he can’t repair, Yige Caixang says: smartphones, cars, and computers – because Uncle never owned any. Although the villagers sometimes jokingly call Uncle “crooked” because of his leg and crutches, they all know how much they care for him and how much the entire village depends on him.

In the final part of the 11-minute video, Yige Caixiang reflects on what life might have looked like for his Uncle if he had not received those injections in the 1970s. He probably would have taken the national exams, would have gone to study at university, and maybe would have become an engineer with a good income and secure financial future. But Uncle does not want to think like that. Refusing to look back, he is happy with his life in the village.

It is only when they are near the end of their lives that people come to realize that the biggest regret in life is always regretting the past, Yige Caixiang says. The main thing that matters in life is not the cards you were dealt, but how you play them. Uncle was dealt a bad card, but played it beautifully through his continuous self-improvement and perseverance.

In an old notebook underneath Uncle’s bed, a line of text scribbled on the first page shows a Mao Zedong quote: “Be determined, fear no sacrifice, and surmount every difficulty to win victory” (“下定决心,不怕牺牲,排除万难,去争取胜利”).

 
“Let Uncle quietly live together with grandma in the small mountain village – that is the most beautiful ending this story could have.”
 

A day after it was posted, the resilient Uncle is a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media. The overall tone and setting of the video is so spirit-lifting and humbling, that it is not surprising for both netizens and state media outlets to jump on it, just as they did before with stories shared by Ding Zhen, Fan Yusu, or Zhong Jitao.

One hashtag for the short film – “How Uncle Cured My Mental Friction after Being Back in the Village for Three Days” #二舅治好了我的精神内耗# – received a staggering 630 million clicks by Tuesday. The hashtag “Why Did Uncle Blow Up Like That” (#二舅为什么突然火了#) received over 140 million views on Weibo.

The vlogger who made and posted the video is mostly known by his social media handle, Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想). The maker himself did not release his own real name nor that of his Uncle. The vlogger apparently used to be an instructor, as multiple netizens claim that he was their previous history teacher.

Yige Caixiang is not a Bilibili newcomer. As a creator, he previously uploaded over thirty videos. They are mostly related to popular science and none of them have blown up like this one has.

After the video flooded the internet, Yige Caixiang responded to the hype on Tuesday and posted the following on Weibo:

“Hi Weibo friends, many of you messaged me after seeing Uncle’s video, suggesting I’d let him go livestream on a big streaming site. Thanks to everyone for caring, but now that Uncle is getting some online attention, you want to persuade him to livestream to do what? Repeating his suffering like Xianglin’s Wife (t/n: this is a reference to an old woman in one of Lu Xun’s famous stories), then playing games with a bunch of people who don’t know anything, kneeling and begging them for support, and then suddenly starting to talk them into buying tissue paper? Uncle seriously lived half of his life already, I shared his story now, you heard it and it touched you, this makes a beautiful little story, and it should have a beautiful ending. Didn’t we see enough beautiful stories with a rotten ending over the past few years? Let Uncle quietly live together with grandma in the small mountain village – that is the most beautiful ending this story could have.”

Addressing rumors that the video was not authentic, Yige Caixiang said about the video that “every single word is true” and that none of the details surrounding Uncle’s life had been edited or altered in any way.

The video speaks to netizens for different reasons. Many are inspired due to the life lessons it contains regarding perseverance and not looking back on the things that might have been different. Others praise how Uncle was still able to save so much money for his daughter’s down-payment on her new home despite struggling himself. Many just applaud Uncle’s unparalleled strength despite their disability. Others appreciate the perspective the video gives on Chinese rural life.

There are also those who are concerned about enthusiastic netizens visiting Uncle in his sleepy hometown. Let’s hope the creator’s wish to let Uncle and his grandmother continue their quiet life together is the happy ending this viral story will get.

To view the video (no subtitles yet), state media outlet China Daily posted it to YouTube on Tuesday (embedded below):

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China Arts & Entertainment

Jay Chou’s Much-Anticipated Album Is Here, but ‘Greatest Works’ is Getting Not-So Great Online Reviews

“It’s just a classic Jay Chou album.”

Manya Koetse

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The July 15 release of Jay Chou’s much-anticipated album The Greatest Works of Art (最伟大的作品) is a trending topic on Chinese social media. The album dropped at 0:00 exactly.

Last week, the album’s first single, also titled The Greatest Works of Art , already became a major hit – not only because of the song but also because of the music video. Filmed at iconic Parisian locations, the music video was almost like a short movie in itself (read more here).

On Thursday, the album cover was published online before the album release, showing Jay Chou in front of Mont Saint-Michel in France.

For many people, music by the Taiwanese producer, actor, composer, singer-songwriter, and ‘King of Mandopop’ Jay Chou (周杰伦) brings back memories of the early 2000s when Jay Chou rose to prominence and became super popular and influential for his catchy music and lyrics that resonated with many young people.

Chou brought a refreshing new sound and look to the Chinese-language pop scene, combining rap with classical piano, mixing up Western pop, R&B, and electronic music influences with traditional Chinese music elements, and often coming up with creative and spectacular music videos.

Jay Chou blends the classical and contemporary and is not afraid to show he draws inspiration from international music and sources in popular and commercial culture from China to Europe and from the US to South America.

From Dragon Fist (龙拳, 2002 – link to MV) to Chrysanthemum Terrace (菊花台, 2006 – link to MV) and from Mr Magician (魔術先生, 2009 – link to MV) to Mojito (2020 – link to MV), Chou’s songs and music videos are so diverse that it seems as if the singer is constantly reinvesting himself.

Although early fans of Jay Chou might be all grown up now and have lost sight of their idol, or perhaps even grew tired of him, he often still brings on pure nostalgia for many people, which also contributes to his present-day success.

The Greatest Works of Art is Jay Chou’s 15th album, but it is also the first album he is releasing in six years. On Friday, the second single, including music video, was launched together with the album. The album features a total of eleven songs.

The first reactions to Jay Chou’s latest ‘Greatest’ work have not been so great. Popular Weibo music blogging account Live Music Scene (@LiveMusic现场) reviewed the album and although they also had some positive things to say, they wrote that Jay Chou’s voice does not sound as fresh anymore:

After listening to Jay Chou’s new album Greatest Works of Art, our main impression is that his singing voice has deteriorated badly. The high notes in ‘Still Wandering’ (还在流浪), ‘You Are the Fireworks I Missed’ (错过的烟火) and ‘Reflection’ (倒影) are very tense and dry – his voice sounds so hoarse that he could use a hundred bottles of Pangdahai herbal tea.” [Pangdahai tea is a malva nut drink, which is known to help treat coughing and sore throats.]

Many fans, however, defended Chou, saying it is normal for a voice to change and that the reviewer was too harsh. “It’s just a classic Jay Chou album,” multiple commenters write.

But underneath some threads discussing the new album, “I don’t like it” was a recurring comment, with many people agreeing with each other that the album is just not so great.

Despite the online criticism, Jay Chou’s true fans still praise his work and express the love they have for him and his music: “For me, Jay – who can make movies and also sings – is one of my favorite idols.” Blogger Wang Qiao (@王乔, over 140,000 fans) wrote:

Frankly speaking, his vocal level indeed is not what it used to be. And we’ve heard too many of the rhythmic styles in his past classic works. But he is now married, with with children, in an epidemic – his life is no longer all about music. And what’s actually wrong with that? Despite the changes in time and space, he is still continuing to create music (..) He is just Jay Chou, a genius who doesn’t need to prove his talent. You like it? You’re disappointed? Does it matter? It doesn’t. (..) As his old fan, I feel any kind of comment is too normal. I believe that the people who like him really do not care, they welcome criticism, it never changes. Thank you for the new album Jay Chou, I can listen to your new songs tonight and fall asleep. I hope there will be a next album, and even if you wait a few years, it does not matter.”

Another popular comment says: “What would we do without Jay Chou?”

To check out the album on Spotify, check here. It is for sale on QQ music for 30 yuan here, and is also available via Amazon.

The newest single is embedded below.

By Manya Koetse

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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