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Top 3 Much-Anticipated Chinese TV Dramas (2019)

These are some of the upcoming Chinese TV dramas to keep an eye on this summer!

Gabi Verberg

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Featuring talented directors and popular superstars, these are some much-anticipated Chinese TV dramas to keep an eye on this year.

Summer is finally coming! Although for many people, summer is the time of the year to open the doors and windows and spend time outside, it also the Chinese peak season for drama series. This year, according to the 365 TV Series site, a total of 105 Chinese drama series will be released from June to September 2019. This includes new seasons of existing series and the launch of new original series.

Most of us, however, don’t have the time or patience to watch all the new releases that are out there. To make it easier for you, What’s on Weibo has selected three promising TV dramas that are coming out this summer.

Different from our other “Top Drama Series” articles, this list is not based on audience ratings. Instead, we have scanned various relevant mainland Chinese TV drama blogs and looked at social media to list these much-anticipated releases.

 

#1 Novoland Eagle Flag

Chinese title: 九州缥缈录 Jiǔzhōu piāomiǎo lù
Genre: Fantasy, Ancient, Martial Arts
Directed by: Zhang Xiaobo (张晓波)
Release date: June 3, 2019 at Zhejiang TV, Youku and Tencent

Update: release has been postponed, read more here.

The heroic epic drama Novolang Eagle Flag is an adapted screenplay from the immensely popular like-named novel by Jiang Nan (江南) and is part of a six-volume collection. The book was released in 2015, and only a few years later it was director Zhang Xiaobo who took up this story to turn it into a drama series.

Despite Zhang’s one-time experience with directing a fantasy story in 2005, his most recent successes include To Be A Better Man (好先生) and The Nanny Man (我爱男保姆): all romantic contemporary dramas. Many TV drama lovers are therefore curious to see if Zhang can be as successful with this upcoming drama as he was with his contemporary ones.

Besides the director, the cast of this drama is also quite outstanding. Three of the four main characters are in their early twenties. The leading role is played by the 21-year-old award-winning actor Liu Yuran (刘吴然). Liu gained national fame with his appearance in the popular military propaganda reality series Takes A Real Man (真正男子汉) in 2015, and ever since he has played in numerous TV series, ranging from fantasy to historical, and comedy to contemporary works.

The story of Novolang Eagle Flag revolves around Lu Guichen, the heir of the nomadic Qingyang tribe. When he is sent to the Eastern Land, he meets Ji Ye, an illegitimate son who is training to become a warrior, and princess Yu Ran. In the process of helping each other, the three become friends. The situation gets complicated when both boys start having romantic feelings for Yu Ran. But a bigger challenge is awaiting them when they join forces to fight the powerful warlord Ying Wuyi.

The airing of Novolang Eagle Flag is very much anticipated on Chinese social media, where the drama’s hashtag (#九州缥缈录#) has already been viewed over 690 million times.

 

#2 Wait In Beijing

Chinese title: 我在北京等你 Wǒ zài Běijīng Děng Nǐ
Genre: Coming of Age, Romance
Directed by: Yan Po (鄢颇) and Eddie Tse (解航)
Release date: Expected August 2019 at Youku, Tencent

Wait in Beijing is the only series in our list that is partly filmed outside of China, namely in New York City. The series is a collaboration between the directors Yan Po and Eddie Tse. The latter studied in New Zealand and authored four books which were all published in China. All of his novels revolve around young people dealing with societal problems.

Wait in Beijing is Tse’s second series. Netizens are curious to see if the rawness of Tse’s previous works will still be visible in this seemingly perfect love story.

The main characters are played by super idols Li Yifen (李易峰) and Jiang Shuying (江疏影), who have 19 million and 55 million followers on Weibo. The series was already filmed and completed in 2018.

Wait in Beijing tells the story of Sheng Xia and Xu Tian. The latter is a Chinese orphan who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, while Sheng was born and raised in China. Xu is a cynical young man striving to become a famous lawyer. Shang is equally ambitious as she seeks to develop her own brand and open a fashion boutique on Fifth Avenue.

Both equally ambitious and eager to pursue their goals, Xu and Sheng one day cross paths. From then on, their feelings and dreams become intertwined. But with Xu’s American and Sheng’s Chinese upbringing, the cultural differences and contrasting views between the two lovers keep them from coming closer together.

The upcoming drama has received 190 million views on its Weibo hashtag page at time of writing.

 

#3 City of Desire/Yearning Life

Chinese title: 欲望之城 Yùwàng zhī Chéng, later changed to 渴望生活 Kěwàng Shēnghuó
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Psychological
Directed by: Liu Jin (刘进)
Release date: Expected September 2019 at Zhejiang TV, Dongfang TV, Youku, iQiyi and Tencent

City of Desire is directed by Liu Jin (刘进), who also produced some of the most successful and largest Chinese TV drama productions in recent years including White Deer Plain (白鹿原). With his new drama series, Liu raises awareness for more contemporary social problems such as anxiety and depression.

This upcoming drama features some of China’s biggest superstars. The two main characters are played by Wu Xiubo (吴秀波) and Angelababy (Yang Ying 杨颖). Wu has received several best actor awards. Angelababy is one of China’s most popular actresses and fashion icons. She’s social media celebrity with more than a staggering 100 million followers on Weibo.

City of Desire follows the life of a man named Jiang Nianhua and the younger woman Lin Li. After a bitter divorce, the childless Jiang gradually builds up his life again and accumulates considerable wealth. To others, it seems as if Jiang got his life all back on track, but in reality, Jiang is battling with severe depression. Just when he decides he cannot take life any longer, he meets the young Lin.

Not long after their encounter, Lin also has to endure emotional hardships and career struggles. When Lin is at the verge of leaving her job because she cannot handle the stress, it is Jiang who motivates her to stay and fight for her position. In the process of Jiang helping Lin getting back on her feet, something changes within him.

Want to see more? Also see our top 10 of February 2019 here, or our list of best Chinese TV dramas of all-time here.

By Gabi Verberg

PS All three series will be available for viewing online, some also with English subtitles. If you need a VPN to circumvent any geo restrictions, we recommend either NordVPN or ExpressVPN to do so.

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.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Celebs

Ai Fukuhara’s Rumored Divorce: Weibo Users Show Support to ‘China’s Most Favorite Japanese Girl’

Weibo’s love for Ai Fukuhara is strong. “How could anyone make Little Ai sad?”

Wendy Huang

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When the Japanese table tennis star Ai Fukuhara (福原爱) was tying the knot back in 2016, all of Weibo wanted to know how the marriage to Taiwanese table tennis player Chiang Hung-Chieh (江宏傑), a fellow Olympian, would work out. Now that rumors of Fukuhara getting divorced have begun to appear on Chinese social media, the popular Japanese athlete is once again the topic of the day.

The rumor of Fukuhara’s divorce went trending on Weibo after two reports about her were published on the same day. On March 3, Japanese site News Post Seven reported that Ai Fukuhara and an unnamed man stayed overnight in a hotel in Japan’s Yokohama City, hinting that she was having an affair.

Some of the photos posted by https://www.news-postseven.com/.

Following this report, Shukan Bunshun, another Japanese media site, published a report with sources saying that Ai Fukuhara has made up her mind to get a divorce as she has allegedly is suffering from verbal abuse by her husband, Chiang Hung-Chieh.

Ai Fukuhara then responded to the report of News Post Seven, admitting that she had a ‘meeting’ with “one of her supportive friends”, but she emphasized that the two were staying overnight in different rooms. When asked if the separation from her husband is a result of verbal abuse, she did not respond to the question, but she did say that a potential divorce is a decision that needs to be taken as a couple.

Fukuhara and her husband in happier days.

After Shukan Bunshun’s article spread online, many Weibo users in China expressed their sympathy and support for Fukuhara, whom they had seen growing up since she was a young girl. Fukuhara began playing table tennis at the age of 3, and started her professional career at the age of 10.

One of the reasons why the Japanese Ai Fukuhara is so popular in China is her fluent Chinese. She was trained in the north-eastern part of China since she was a teenager and acquired the local accent. Fukuhara is often called ‘Ai Jiang’ by Chinese fans, which equals the Japanese endearing ‘Ai Chan’ (“Little Ai”). Fukuhara is also active on Weibo (@福原愛AiFukuhara), where she has over 5,1 million fans.

 

“Ai Fukuhara is always right no matter what she has done”

 

On Weibo, the hashtag “[People on] My Timeline Have All Agreed on One Thing” (#首页都在一件事上达成了一致#) went to the top search lists after a user published a post saying:

People I follow have been fighting against each other on various topics every day, but today, whether it is a woman or a man, a sweet Douhua supporter or a salty Douhua supporter, a left-winger or a right-winger, a liberal, a conservative or a centrist, all have reached an agreement on one thing – that Ai Fukuhara is always right no matter what she has done.”

In the comment area of this post, a comment that received the most likes also expressed full support for her: “Even if Ai Jiang (爱酱) is having an affair, it must be because her husband has done something bad to her.”

More support for Fukuhara was flooding in under a hashtag “How Could Anyone Make Ai Jiang Sad”(#怎么会有人舍得让爱酱难过#). Weibo users shared various videos of Ai Fukuhara, including documentary videos about her life-long table tennis career and her interviews on variety shows in China and Japan.

While praising her for her cuteness and hard work, Weibo users also expressed their dissatisfaction with her husband because of Shukan Bunshun’s report. The hashtag has received more than 220 million views so far.

Late on March 4, Ai Fukuhara issued a hand-written statement to address the ongoing rumors about her alleged affair. In the letter, Fukuhara apologizes for “the concerns and troubles brought about” by her own “reckless behavior.”

A handwritten statement by Fukuhara (in Japanese).

Fukuhara also clarified her overnight stay with a male friend, saying it was a respected friend who helped her in starting a company. The two had indeed taken a break from work to relax, Fukuhara emphasized that they did not share a room. She further added that together with her husband, they will deal with their problems together and come up with the best solution for their child. Fukuhara and Chiang Hung-chieh have one daughter, who is now three years old.

At time of writing, the hashtag “Ai Fukuhara’s Apology Statement” (#福原爱道歉声明#) has reached over 570 million views on Weibo.

 

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

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China Arts & Entertainment

“Love the Motherland” – New Moral Guidelines for Chinese Performers Come Into Force

New “Self-Disciplinary Measures” for performers in China come into force on March 1st.

Manya Koetse

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On February 5th of 2021, the China Association of Performing Arts (中国演出行业协会), which is run by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, officially released new guidelines for Chinese performers in order to promote the idea that Chinese performers should abide by rules of ‘social morality,’ stating they could face a permanent ban from their profession if they fail to comply.

The guidelines, that come into force on a trial basis starting from March 1st, are meant to “promote the healthy development of the performer industry” (“促进演出行业健康发展”). It is the first time for the Association, which was established in 1988, to introduce “clear regulations” in this way.

The regulations are presented as being “self-disciplinary measures” for actors, musicians, dancers, opera performers, acrobats, and any other people engaged in performing within China.

Part of the article presented by the China Association of Performing Arts includes the “practice norms”, which stipulate that performers, among other things, should abide by national laws and regulations, should honor their contracts and comply with copyright laws. The article also lists other things. For example, performers should:

 

  • “..love the motherland, and support the Party’s line and policies” (“热爱祖国,拥护党的路线方针政策”)
  • “..persevere in the orientation that literature and art should serve the people and socialism” (“坚持文艺为人民服务、为社会主义服务的方向”)
  • “..actively uphold a positive image” (“积极树立正面形象”)
  • “..actively participate in social charity events, help the development of public welfare undertakings, consciously put social responsibility into practice” (“积极参与社会公益活动,助力公益事业发展,自觉践行社会责任”)

 

Another part describes what performers are not allowed to do. Among other things – of which some seem obvious, such as ‘do not violate the basic principles of the Constitution’ – they include things like ‘performers may not..’:

 

  • “..jeopardize national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, endanger national security or damage national honor and interests” (“危害国家统一、主权和领土完整,危害国家安全,或者损害国家荣誉和利益”)
  • “..encite hatred against ethnic groups, discriminate against ethnic groups, infringe the customs and habits of ethnic groups, insult ethnic groups or undermine national unity” (“煽动民族仇恨、民族歧视,侵害民族风俗习惯,伤害民族感情,破坏民族团结”)
  • “..organize, participate in, or promote illegal activities regarding obscenities, pornography, gambling, drugs, violence, terrorism, or criminal elements etc” (“组织、参与、宣扬涉及淫秽、色情、赌博、毒品、暴力、恐怖或者黑恶势力等非法活动 “)
  • “..violate national religion policies, promote cults or superstition” (“违反国家宗教政策,宣扬邪教、迷信”)
  • “..do lip-sync in professional performances, deceive the audience by fake playing instruments etc” (“在营业性演出中以假唱、假演奏等手段欺骗观众”)

 

The punishment for going against these regulations is an industry-wide boycott of one year, three years, five years, or even a permanent ban depending on how serious the case is.

By stressing that art should serve the people, the China Association of Performing Arts reiterates President Xi Jinping’s views on the arts, which he previously shared at a symposium of prominent artists and writers in Beijing in 2014, and where he also said that “the arts must serve the people and serve socialism.”

As discussed by Chinese author Murong Xuecun in the New York Times in 2014 (‘The Art of Xi Jinping’ link), President Xi’s comments reminded of the famous Yan’an talks by Mao Zedong in 1942 where he prescribed the new direction for art and literature in China, saying they should serve the ‘people’ – the workers, peasants, and soldiers – and not the petty bourgeoisie or intellectuals.

The Beijing comments by Xi signaled that the Chinese government fixed its sights on literature and the arts, with Murong Xuecun already predicting that it would be the start of new lists of forbidden films, broadcasts, and publications. Those lists may now also include banned performers.

 

“Idols should be a good example for others”

 

The China Association of Performing Arts also has a Weibo account (@中国演出行业协会) where they posted about the new regulations.

“I support this, idols should be a good example for others,” one top commenter reacted to the regulations.

Others suggested that there should be a blacklist of performers engaged in illegal activities in order to “warn the industry.”

But there are also voices, such as some on Q&A site Zhihu, expressing that the current regulations are too vague, as they include stipulations that are already part of the law. Some argue that there should be a clearer description of the consequences artists will face when they violate industry guidelines or when they engage in acts that are illegal.

“Surrogate pregnancies, insulting China, taking drugs, evading taxes, etc etc – this should be banned forever,” another person said.

The ‘surrogate pregnancy’ comment refers to the controversy involving Zheng Shuang (郑爽). It already is the biggest celebrity controversy of the year in China. The 29-year-old famous Chinese actress dominated all trending topics in January of 2021 when news came out that the actress and her husband Zhang Heng (张恒) had separated and that she had left behind two children born out of surrogacy in the United States. Surrogacy is not legal in China.

Since the controversy, Zheng Shuang was dropped by the brands she represented, she was shut down by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and her honorary titles were revoked by Huading Awards.

Among all Weibo comments on the new regulations, there also many mocking them – especially the rule that stipulates performers should not lip-sync and deceive their audiences. “What about the Spring Festival Gala?”, multiple commenters say, referring to the biggest live televised state media event, that is often criticized for lip-synced performances.

 

“Can Zheng Shuang still make a comeback?”

 

The recent regulations come at a time when Chinese celebrities have enormous influence in popular culture due to the blossoming of various social media platforms – some of Weibo’s top celebrities have over 120 million fans.

At the same time, the past decades have seen a higher grade of commercialization of Chinese media, with entertainment and celebrities being a major driving force behind the success of hundreds of Chinese television stations. This has only further accelerated the influence of China’s top performers.

Loved by millions of fans, the power of Chinese celebrity artists is often also used by authorities to promote Party ideology and policies. This is done in myriad ways. In 2017, a group of Chinese celebrities praised China’s “New Era” in a song supporting Xi Jinping Thought; in 2019, influential pop stars sang about the importance of social credit.

In this thriving celebrity culture, Chinese authorities are tightening control on the culture & entertainment content that reaches millions of fans within the country. In 2019 there was a crackdown on the rising popularity of Chinese costume dramas. In 2017, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) issued a notice that Chinese television stations should refrain from broadcasting TV dramas “focused on entertaining” during primetime. These are just minor examples of ways in which authorities are shaping a popular culture environment that is not just about the entertainment alone – it should also serve the Party’s goals.

As the “self-discipline management measures” have now gone into effect, some discussions on social media are focused on whether or not these measures should be applied retroactively, and if Chinese celebrities could still be affected now for past behaviors.

In a previous interview with Xinhua News, The Secretary-General of the China Association of Performing Arts Pan Yan (潘燕) stated that previous actions or situations will not be taken into account when it comes to the current guidelines.

“Does this mean Zheng Shuang can still make a comeback?”, some netizens wondered.

Pan Yan also said that the Association has an ‘ethics committee’ which will be involved in the process of assessing whether or not artists have violated the practice norms.

 
By Manya Koetse

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

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