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“I’m So Qiou” – The New Chinese ‘Character of the Year’ is ‘Dirt-Poor & Ugly’

If there is one single word for being ‘dirt-poor’ and ‘ugly’ it would be ‘qiou’ – a character many self-mocking young Chinese say they identify with.

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A new (unofficially) elected ‘character of the year’ of 2018 is qiou, a creative combination of ‘dirt-poor’ and ‘ugly.’ Many self-mocking netizens identify with the new online word.

A new Chinese character, created by netizens, has become all the rage on social media this week.

The character is a combination of two characters, namely ‘穷’ (qióng) and ‘丑’ (chǒu). The first (穷) literally means ‘poor,’ whereas the second (丑) is used to describe something ugly.

The pinyin of this new character would be ‘qiou‘, which mixes qióng and chǒu. Unsurprisingly, the meaning of the new character is something like being ‘poor-ugly.’

Actually, there is a third character hiding among those strokes: ‘土’ (tǔ), which means earth, soil or dust. So the added meaning of the newly created character would not just be poor and ugly, but dirt-poor and ugly.

In a time of staggering house prices and unrealistic beauty ideals, ‘qiou’ is a character that “suits our time,” according to many on Weibo, who say the character ‘describes their current situation.’

“The time of our youth was a happy one,” one netizen poetically states: “Because it was not yet clear to us at the time, how poor and ugly we were.”

The character became all the rage when it was dubbed “the character of 2018” (“2018年度汉字”) by Chinese media outlet Modern Express (现代快报), selected by netizens.

The word has become popular among self-mocking young social media users, who come out saying: “I’m qiou [我qiou].”

According to some, the word should be pronounced in the third tone. They identify so much with the word, that the word for “I” (‘wǒ’), which is also in the third tone, is also somehow included in ‘qiou’ by making it a third tone pronunciation.

Some Weibo users share the state of their Wechat wallet online, only adding: “I’m so qiou.”

It is not the first time that new words or characters are being made up on Chinese social media or in popular culture. Online language is changing constantly, with new creative words, expressions, and characters being added to the online slanguage all the time (also see these popular terms).

In 2015, one new character and word that entered the online language sphere was duang, a term that became popular after Jackie Chan used it in a shampoo commercial in 2004 and a creative netizen made a remix of it 11 years later. Despite the fact that was somewhat unclear what ‘duang’ meant (it was more of a feeling, perhaps), the word became an absolute hype.

As for ‘qiou’ – the word cannot be typed out in Chinese characters, nor is there any indication it will ever be included in an official Chinese dictionary. But that’s no problem for many: “This is the first new character I’ve come across I do not need to look up, because I could understand its meaning straight away.”

By Crystal Fan and Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes

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©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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China Memes & Viral

Prohibited to Promote Top Students, Chinese Schools Are Praising their Excellent ‘Fruit’ Instead

Who knew Chinese schools were so good at harvesting fruit?

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It is that time of the year again: China’s gaokao results are in. Chinese schools that are proud of their top-scoring students would like to scream it from the rooftops, but they are banned from doing so. So they are now posting about their very successful fruit production instead.

This week, the scores came out for China’s gaokao (高考), the National Higher Education Entrance Examinations that took place earlier this months.

The exams are a prerequisite for entering China’s higher education institutions and are taken by students in their last year of senior high school. Scoring high grades for this exam can give high school students access to a better college, which enlarges their chances of obtaining a good job after graduation.

Those who succeed in becoming top scorers in their field and area are known as the gāokǎo zhuàngyuán (高考状元, ‘gaokao champions’). Gaokao champions are usually widely praised, not just by families and friends, but also by their hometowns and schools for which the top-scoring students are their pride and unique selling point.

But since 2018, as explained in this article, it is prohibited for Chinese media and schools to give publicity to gaokao top scorers. The Chinese Ministry of Education banned the promotion of top achievers in line with Xi Jinping Thought, emphasizing the value of equality and sociability instead.

This year, local authorities again reiterated the message that in order to set the right example and “establish the correct orientation of education,” the hyping up of school exam results and publishing top score rankings are strictly prohibited.

Because of the Ministry of Education guidelines, schools can not openly flaunt the successes of their top scorers, but some have found creative ways to do so anyway.

“Of a batch of 1320 ripe mango’s, there are over hundred weighing more than 600 grams,” one school in Guangxi’s Nanning wrote. The ‘weight’ refers to the score, with 600 being a very high score (the maximum score is usually 750, depending on the field and area). “”[We] picked a mango weighing as much as 696 grams, the king of Qinzhou fruit. Two fruit dealers in the capital have already heard of it and are eager to take it.”

Besides mango’s, there were also other schools mentioning their successful production of ‘plums or peaches.’

One blog by Jiangchacha (姜茶茶) listed various examples of schools boasting about their ‘fruit harvest’ in social media posts.

The blog explained that some schools in Guangxi used the mango metaphor because Guangxi has some of the country’s largest mango-producing regions. Meanwhile, the word for ‘peaches and plums’ in Chinese (桃李) also refers to one’s pupils or disciples.

Another school’s post said: “It is harvest season (..), and the campus is fragrant with peaches and plums, and fruitful results!”, adding that “a total of 2400 high quality peaches and plums have been harvested, and over 93% are of high quality!”

There was also one school that mentioned other schools were below them in scores, writing that its “excellence rate” was “clearly ahead of the three other big gardens on the east coast.”

“Our king peach weighs no less than 689 grams,” another school announced. There were also schools that did not discuss fruit but were making references to fish, trees, and high-speed trains instead.

The issue of schools reporting their ‘harvest’ became a trending topic on Weibo, where some found it very funny. But others also voiced criticism that schools cannot publish about some of their students being gāokǎo zhuàngyuán, top scorers.

“There is nothing to hide, the exam scores are the result of hard work by both the teachers and students,” one popular comment said, with others replying: “Why wouldn’t you announce the scores? It might inspire other students!”

“This entire guideline is just nonsense,” another typical comment said.

Meanwhile, some netizens suggested that Sichuan schools could use pandas as a metaphor for their top scorers, while Chongqing could use chili peppers next year, with others suggesting other types of fruit that could be used in these ‘covered-up’ gaokao score publications. It’s bound to be another fruitful year in 2023.

Want to read more about gaokao? Check out more related articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Photo by Bangyu Wang on Unsplash

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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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China Local News

Chinese Twin Sisters Switched Identities to Illegally Travel Abroad over 30 Times

The lookalike sisters thought it was “convenient” to use each other’s passport to travel to Japan, Russia, Thailand and other countries.

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Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are currently trending. This article was first published

On June 27, a local public security bureau in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, released a press statement regarding the peculiar case of twin sisters who used each other’s identity to travel abroad over thirty times.

The two Zhou sisters, *Hong and *Wei (pseudonyms), started switching identities when Hong’s husband, a Japanese national, returned to Japan. Hong wanted to join her husband in Japan, but her visa application was repeatedly denied due to not meeting the requirements.

Hong then decided to use her sister’s travel documents to travel to Japan to see her husband various times. She reportedly also used her sister’s passport to travel to Russia. She ended up traveling between China, Russia, and Japan at least thirty times.

Wei, who reportedly thought this way of switching identities was “convenient”, also used her sister’s passport to travel to Thailand and some other countries on four different occasions.

After authorities found out what the sisters had been up to earlier in 2022, they were advised in May to return back to China. While the case is still under investigation, the sisters are now being held for the criminal offense of border management obstruction.

The case went trending in the hot-search topic list on Weibo, where many people are wondering how this could have happened so many times. “If you exit and enter the country, aren’t fingerprints collected?”, some wondered, with others saying the border technological systems were apparently not good enough to detect such identity fraud.

There were also those who thought the story was quite “amazing” and sounded “like the plot of a television series.”

By Manya Koetse

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