Over the past two days, a commercial by China Merchants Bank (招商银行) titled ‘The world is no bigger than a fried tomato omelette’ (“世界再大，大不过一盘番茄炒蛋”) has gone viral on Chinese social media. While the ad campaign is a tearjerker for many, some find it a source of annoyance.
The 4-minute commercial revolves around Chinese exchange student Yang who is in his first week in America and has to cook a Chinese dish for a potluck party.
“Your world means the world to us.”
Worried that he does not know how make the classic Chinese xīhóngshì chǎo jīdàn dish (西红柿炒鸡蛋 generally: ‘scrambled eggs with tomatoes’), Yang calls up his mother in China for help.
When he finds his mother’s explanation on how to prepare the dish not clear enough, the young man gets frustrated. Just as he is about to panic, his phone beeps that there is an incoming WeChat message; it is his mother on a video showing her son how to make fried tomato and eggs from her kitchen.
Thanks to his mother’s help, Yuan shows up at the party with a tasty dish. One of the party’s attendants asks Yuan about China and how much the time difference with America is.
The moment Yang replies “12 hours,” he realizes that he asked his mother for help in the middle of the night – and that she got up for him without her ever complaining about it.
Touched that his parents would wake up in the dark of the night to make a video tutorial for him, he messages his mother to say “thank you.”
The commercial ends with an image of Yang’s parents in their kitchen in China, texting: “We want to stand by your side, but we want even more for you to have the world. Your world means the world to us” (“你的世界大于全世界”).
The commercial promotes the Merchants Bank’s special Visa credit card for exchange students.
VIEW THE VIDEO HERE:
The commercial, that went trending on Weibo and Wechat today, touched many people to tears. Moved by these parents’ unconditional love for their child, people shared their own stories of studying abroad and receiving help from their parents.
“An idiot who doesn’t sympathize with his parents and does not even care about the time difference.”
Many other people, though, say the commercial sends out the wrong message, and that Chinese parents today are raising children who are not independent enough.
A Weibo user nicknamed Wuyue (@五岳散人) writes:
“That sucker ad by the Merchants Bank is really powerful alright. He doesn’t know how to stir-fry tomatoes and eggs, and despite the fact that it is broad daylight there, he doesn’t even know it’s nighttime in China and calls his mummy for help. He then, particularly proud, tells his friends ‘I am from China.’ What does that mean? It means his mother raised a boy who cannot even cook for himself. An idiot who doesn’t sympathize with his parents and does not even care about the time difference.”
Other people agree, saying: “You can’t disturb your sleeping parents to make tomato omelette,” or: “Don’t we have Baidu [search engine] for this?”
Some commenters say they find the commercial “infuriating,” stating that people who do not know how to make tomato and eggs should not even qualify to study abroad.
There are also commenters who simply wonder what the commercial has to do with the credit card it promotes.
“True portrayal of relations between Chinese exchange students and their parents.”
An author at news platform 36kr.com disagrees with the critics, writing: “As someone who has been an exchange student before, this commercial made me cry when I saw it late at night.”
“Yesterday night, this commercial started going viral on WeChat and my friends who are studying abroad sent it to me with teary emoticons.”
The 36kr author says that some of her friends were crying their eyes out over the ad:
“This ad is a true portrayal of the relations between exchange students and their parents. The tomato and eggs dish is just an example, but behind it you’ll find the far-reaching love of parents towards their children that goes beyond any time-difference.”
Many on Weibo agree with this stance, writing: “Over the past few days, every single chat group for exchange students has been posting this video. I finally watched it. Tears were streaming down my face.”
About the connection to the credit card product, the author of 36kr.com writes: “The most important purpose [of this ad] is to enhance the brand image of the China Merchants Bank. Tying the brand together with this scene, we have emotional resonance and thus it creates more trust in the brand, associating the Merchants Bank with ‘warmth,’ ‘care,’ and ‘love.'”
“China Merchants Bank is taking a route that is more common in Thailand, where ‘sadvertising’ is a well-known phenomenon.”
By choosing to promote their latest credit card in this way, the China Merchants Bank is taking a route that is more common in Thailand, where ‘sadvertising’ is a well-known phenomenon.
Throughout the years, several Thai tearjerking movie-like commercials have become very popular on the internet. These Thai commercials, internationally acclaimed, mainly focus on narrative and plot and are similar to short movies.
They are called ‘sadvertising’ because their touching narratives, strong actors, qualitative film work and emotive music make it difficult not to tear up while watching.
‘The World is No Bigger than a Tomato Omelette’ was not produced by a Thai director, however. Its director is Xi Ran (席然), a young creative filmmaker whose work includes movies such as I Love You to Love Me (爱在一起).
According to this article on marketing platform Meihua.info, Xi Ran has had previous successes in making commercials.
“The commercial shows the great lengths to which Chinese parents will go to support their children in their education and endeavours – no matter where in the world they are.”
Despite all criticism, the commercial could be called a great success as it has become the talk of the day in many chat groups – mainly relating to those students who are studying abroad.
According to Quartz, Chinese students are studying abroad in record numbers. In 2015 alone, more than half a million Chinese headed overseas to study.
But the commercial does not just resonate with those outside of China. Many students who go to university within China also have to travel long hours to see their parents, and often do not have the means or time to see their family.
Children from China’s younger generations, mostly the post-90s generation, are often the pride of their family for being the first person to go to university or to study abroad.
They generally are used to receive a lot of attention and (financial) help from their family. This also shows in the ‘tents of love’ phenomenon, where parents will accompany their children when they first go to college and sleep in tents outside the campus.
The viral ‘tomato and eggs’ commercial also shows, in its own way, the great lengths to which Chinese parents will go to make sure they can support their children in their education and endeavours – no matter where in the world they are.
“I saw it. I cried,” many commenters simply wrote.
“This commercial annoyed me,” one person says: “Not because of the story, but because it made me realize I actually also do not know how to make tomato omelette.”
Also wondering about the right way to make this comfort dish now? Here’s a link for you – so you don’t have to call up your parents in the middle of the night.
Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.
©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chunwan 2022: The CMG Spring Festival Gala Liveblog by What’s on Weibo
Aanother year has flown by and despite many changes, we can always count on China’s annual Spring Festival Gala. This 40th edition of the festival is the third one to take place in the Covid era.
The Gala will broadcasted on TV and live-streamed via various channels on January 31st, 20.00 pm China Standard Time. So turn on your TV and tune into CCTV, live stream from Weibo, watch on YouTube, or head to the CCTV website. We will be live-blogging on this page here and you can scroll & watch at the same time from this page.
Very Brief Introduction to the Spring Festival Gala
China’s Spring Festival Gala (中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会), commonly abbreviated to chūnwǎn (春晚), is the annual TV gala celebrating the start of the new year. Broadcasted since 1983, it is not just the biggest live televised event in China, it is even among the most-watched shows in the world. The show reached a record 1.27 billion viewers around the globe in 2021.
Previously known as the ‘CCTV Gala,’ it is officially presented as the ‘CMG Spring Festival Gala’ since 2020: it is hosted by China Media Group (CMG), the predominant state media company founded in 2018 that holds China Central Television, China National Radio, and China Radio International.
The Gala is an important Chinese media moment and significant cultural event organized and produced by the state-run broadcaster, overseen by the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), and aired across dozens of channels. It shows the very best of China’s mainstream entertainment and Party propaganda and is a mix of traditional culture, (digital) commerce, and politics. It is an opportunity for the Party to communicate official ideology, it is also a chance to present the nation’s top performers.1
Since recent years, it has also become a platform to showcase China’s innovative digital technologies. In 2015 the show first featured the exchange of virtual hongbao, red envelopes with money, which WeChat users could obtain while shaking their phones during specific moments in the show. Such marketing strategies have drawn in much younger viewer audiences than before. In 2021, the Gala explicitly presented itself as a “tech innovation event” by using 8K ultra high-tech definition video and AI+VR studio technologies and super high definition cloud communication technology to coordinate performances on stage.
The show lasts a total of four hours, from 8pm to 1am Beijing time, and usually has around 30-40 different acts, from dance to singing and acrobatics. The acts that are both most-loved and most-dreaded are the comic sketches (小品) and crosstalk (相声); they are usually the funniest, but also convey the most political messages.
As viewer ratings of the Gala in the 21st century have skyrocketed, so has the critique on the show – which seems to be growing year on year. According to many viewers, the spectacle generally is often “way too political” with its display of communist nostalgia, including the performance of different revolutionary songs such as “Without the Communist Party, There is No New China” (没有共产党就没有新中国).
For this same reason, the sentence “There’ll never be a worst, just worse than last year” (“央视春晚，没有最烂，只有更烂”) has become a well-known idiom connected to the Gala.
If you want to know more about the previous editions, we also live-blogged
– 2021: The Chunwan Liveblog: Watching the 2021 CMG Spring Festival Gala
– 2020: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2020
– 2019: The CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2019 Live Blog
– 2018: CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2018 (Live Blog)
– 2017: CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017 Live Blog
– 2016: CCTV’s New Year’s Gala 2016 Liveblog
Liveblog CMG Spring Festival Gala 2022
Underneath here you will see our liveblog being updated. Leave the page open and you’ll see the new posts coming in, there should be a ‘ping’ too with every update.
Update: this liveblog is now closed, check below for an overview of the entire show.
The original liveblog was done via a third-party app. The original texts and images are copied below for reference. If there are links to particular segments of the show, they have been added later. The timestamp (in Beijing time) refers to the last moment that post was updated.
Want to directly check out some Spring Festival Gala highlights on YouTube?
The ‘painting’ dance: ‘Only This Green (只此青绿)
The dancing elephant song: ‘The Herd Returns With Spring’ (万象回春)
Creative music, dance, poetry, and painting: “Reminiscence of the South” (忆江南)
Tai Chi up in the sky: ‘Flowing Water’ (行云流水)
The space-themed children performance: ‘Star Dreams’ （星星梦）
What can we expect?
Jan 31 19:30
It’s almost time for the 40th edition of the Spring Festival Gala to begin. The fifth and final rehearsal of the entire event took place on January 29th. Even if something goes wrong tonight, the tape of the official rehearsal runs together with the live broadcast, so that in the event of a problem or disruption, the producers can seamlessly switch to the taped version without TV audiences noticing anything.
The Spring Festival Gala usually always focuses on the themes that matter to Chinese authorities, as the event is an important moment to communicate official ideology.
The themes and topics that mattered last year were China’s battle against COVID19, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s eradication of poverty, China’s Space Program, and the upcoming Winter Olympics.
This year most of these themes will probably again also play an important role this year, together with rural revitalization and China’s unity, with a special focus on Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Also, we’re pretty sure that Olympic mascots Bing Duan Duan (“Bing Dwen Dwen”) and Xue Rong Rong (“Shuey Rhon Rhon”) will show up.
Less Focus on Celebrity Culture
Jan 31 19:35
After a year of celebrities being canceled and crackdowns shaking the Chinese entertainment industry to the core, this year’s Spring Festival Gala will be less focused on popular idols of the internet era and more focused on performing art talents and national heroes.
Chinese state outlet Global Times stressed the idea that those performing in the Chinese New Year Gala should “act as a role model to viewers.”
Many of the people who have an impeccable track record are the older performing artists (those who never had to deal with the social media audiences), so the average age of the artists tonight might be a bit higher up the age ladder than usual.
Most Anticipated Acts?
Jan 31 19:50
One of the most anticipated acts for tonight is the dance play “Only This Green” (只此青绿) inspired by the famous handscroll “One Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains.” In this performance, choreography twin stars Zhou Liya and Han Zhen will highlight the aesthetics of traditional Chinese painting.
The performance of the official Winter Olympics theme song is also attracting some attention.
Overall, the schedule of tonight’s show is looking fairly traditional, although there will be plenty of tech on display too; a 720-degree dome made of LED screens is set up for an immersive viewing experience, and the latest technology like AR, XR, and 8K will also be used.
Liu Zhen: Chief Director
Jan 31 19:57
This year’s director of the Spring Festival Gala is Liu Zhen (刘真) is the Deputy Director of the CCTV arts channel. He is known for previously directing the 2009 anniversary night of the Great Sichuan earthquake and he also directed the 2019 Spring Festival Gala themed around “New China.”
Noteworthy enough, it seems that this year’s Gala is only broadcasted from CCTV 1 Beijing Studio. Usually, there are also three or four other sub venues in other parts of China. Perhaps the Covid19 situation has been a contributing factor to deciding to let this year’s show only take place in one location.
Jan 31 20:05
In this opening act, Happy and Auspicious Year (欢乐吉祥年), three major Wuhan art groups are on stage together with many familiar faces, including the 87-year old actress Tao Yuling, we just saw Chinese director Zhang Yimou and acclaimed actor Ge You appearing in the intro, and there are many others together with some veteran performers who are being honored on stage today.
Jan 31 20:06
These are tonight’s hosts:
Ren Luyu (任鲁豫, 1978): Ren Luyu is a famous Chinese television host from Henan who is a very familiar face for viewers. He presented the Gala five times since 2010.
Li Sisi (李思思, 1986): Li Sisi is a Chinese television host and media personality who is actually most known for her role as host of the Gala since 2012. This is the fifth time Li Sisi is presenting the Gala. She used to be the youngest host, but this year, Ma Fanshu is taking her place as the youngest host.
Nëghmet Raxman (尼格买, 1983): Together with Ren Luyu, Raxman is known as one of the veteran Gala hosts of the past decade. This is the seventh time for him to present the event since 2015. Nëghmet Raxman is a Chinese television host, born and raised in Ürümqi, Xinjiang.
Sa Beining (撒贝宁, 1976): Also known as Benny Sa, SA Beining previously presented the Gala in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. He is a Chinese television host known for his work for CCTV.
Ma Fanshu (马凡舒, 1993): Ma Fanshu is the youngest and newest host in this year’s Gala. She is a sports program host who has also been called “the most beautiful host of CCTV.”
It’s noteworthy that renowned CCTV host Zhu Jun still has not returned to the Gala. The presenter was accused of sexually assaulting an intern in 2018 and hasn’t been a host at the Gala since. Although the internet lost the sexual harassment lawsuit against Zhu Jun, he still hasn’t reappeared.
Sense of the Times 时代感
Jan 31 20:10
This song is performed by the Chinese actor and singer Deng Chao (邓超) together with China’s ‘Supergirl’ Li Yuchun (李宇春) and Yi Yang Qianxi (Jackson Yee), the youngest member of the Chinese boy band TFBoys and super popular solo artist.
On stage, we also see dancer Zhang Yin (张引) together with various dance troupes.
Tonight we’ll see other members of the TFBoys come up in other acts as solo artists rather than as a group.
Skit: Father and Son
Jan 31 20:15
This is the first sketch comedy or short play of the night, called xiaopin 小品 in Chinese. Traditionally, the xiaopin is the best-received type of performance of the Gala for evoking laughter among the audiences. The various xiaopin shows are filled with puns, funny lines, and plot twists to entertain the viewers.
Over recent years, these comic acts performed during the Spring Festival Gala have come to center more on social issues such as environmental protection, corruption, social morals, migrant workers, and family affairs – including those concerning love and marriage. These are not always appreciated as much by viewers.
Meanwhile, on Chinese social media, some netizens are wondering who this kid is who was on stage earlier because he seemed a bit uncomfortable and awkward. But wouldn’t you too?! Over a billion people are watching this show!
The ‘Awkward Kid’
Jan 31 20:20
Look son, you’re a meme now!
Pressured by the Parents
Jan 31 20:25
Inevitably, this skit touches upon the issue of Chinese parents pressuring their kids to settle down and have kids. This is already leading to online discussions as viewers often think the Gala has skits that are insulting to women or just embarrassing. In this case, the grandpa can’t wait for a grandkid, he even thinks his future grandchild is already calling him from the womb!
The Herd Returns With Spring
Jan 31 20:36
After the night’s first public announcement video – which was actually very well made with the tiger jumping through all the scenes -, we are now at the next segment. This is a musical skit (音乐短剧) focused on how nature blossoms with the return of spring (万象回春). It is performed by Chinese mainland singers Sha Baoliang (沙宝亮) and Wang Li (王莉) together with dancer and singer Liu Jia (刘迦).
The highlight of this act is the dancing elephants. They’re not real, obviously.
Last year, a herd of wild Asian elephants wandered hundreds of miles across southern China. They became a top trending topic on Chinese social media as netizens followed their journey. In September 2021, the elephants returned home after covering a total distance of 1,300 km.
Before tonight’s show, a creator already highlighted the elephants in the countdown program.
Jan 31 20:38
Chinese soprano Yin Xiumei (殷秀梅) and contemporary opera singer Yan Weiwen (阎维文) perform the song Ten Thousand Miles of Spring Wind (春风十万里), which was previously performed at the 2020 Gala by Zhang Ye (张也) and Liu Tao (刘涛).
21 Weibo Accounts Suspended For ‘Ruining The Holiday Spirits’ During Lunar New Year
Jan 31 20:40
We’re seeing loads of criticism on the Gala already. Online criticism and making fun of the Gala is a big part of the ‘Chunwan Experience’ ever since the social media era. But Weibo censors might be stricter this year.
On January 22, Weibo issued an indirect warning to netizens criticizing the festive annual Chinese New Year Galas by suspending 21 Weibo users spreading negativity regarding broadcasted festival programs and their performances.
According to Weibo Management (@微博管理员), there are individual netizens who are using televised Lunar New Year celebrations to condemn and slander Chinese performers and Chinese media. In doing so, they allegedly “deliberately destruct the warm and peaceful holiday spirit.”
“In times of pandemic, the Spring Festival needs positivity and warmth,” Weibo Management stated.
Comical Sketch: To Return or Not?
Jan 31 20:45
This is the sixth time for Chinese comedian Shen Teng (沈腾) and Ma Li (马丽) to be on stage together at the Spring Festival Gala. Besides that, you also might know them because Shen Teng, one of China’s top comedian actors, and the famous Ma also played together in the 2015 hit movie Goodbye Mr. Loser (夏洛特烦恼).
On stage with them are Chang Yuan (常远), Ai Lun 艾伦, Wang Chengsi (王成思) and Xu Wenhe (许文赫).
This act is about people who have the means to repay debts they owe but choose not to, also referred to as 老赖 (laolai). This guy is so cheap he even offers a drink of water from the heating system.
By the way, did you know you can even watch the Gala from WeChat? It seems there are more ways and channels to watch every year. The Gala already reached a record 1.27 billion viewers last year.
Heads Up! Only This Green (只此青绿)
Jan 31 21:04
This is a much-anticipated dance performance by Chinese star dancer Meng Qingyang (孟庆旸) together with the China Oriental Performing Arts Group. Meng also performed the dance Jasmine in last year’s Gala.
“Only This Green” (只此青绿) is inspired by the famous handscroll “One Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains.” In this performance, choreography twin stars Zhou Liya and Han Zhen will highlight the aesthetics of traditional Chinese painting.
The 11.9-meter (39 ft)-long scroll A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains by Wang Ximeng comes from the Song Dynasty and it has been described as one of the greatest works of Chinese art. The painting is in the permanent collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing.
Tai Chi: “Flowing Water”
Jan 31 21:10
Chinese Olympic athlete Yang Shunhong (杨顺洪), Tai Chi World Champion Liang Bifeng (梁壁荧) and Tai Chi master Yang Dezhan (杨德战) were just featured in this impressive Tai Chi performance recorded on dazzling heights in Shanghai. (Correction > recorded from the three highest buildings in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chongqing!)
Link to video: ‘Flowing Water’ (行云流水)
Jan 31 21:21
Over recent years, it’s become more common for e-commerce sellers to immediately jump in on the hype of what performers are wearing to sell the same or similar clothes and accessories online. In this way, viewers can watch the show while also eating and shopping, and chatting on social media at the same time!
Jan 31 21:23
In this comic sketch, we see Chinese comedian actress and film director Jia Ling together with award-winning actress Zhang Xiaofei. These two also worked together in the super popular 2021 movie ‘Hi, Mom‘. This time they are on stage as a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Since they’re both very popular, many Weibo users also said they were looking forward to seeing this sketch – especially because there was a scene in which Jia Ling, who played Zhang’s daughter in the movie, said: “Next life, let me be your mother.”
Meanwhile, some on social media are wondering if Jia is wearing the same outfit every year.
Jan 31 21:29
Some very quick viewers were able to capture Chinese actor Chen Baoguo (陈宝国) picking his nose with his mask on while sitting in the audience.
By the way, this is the second year the audience is wearing a face mask. In 2020, when Wuhan was first facing the Covid19 outbreak, the audience was not wearing face masks yet. 2021 was the first year.
Here’s Han Hong Again
Jan 31 21:33
Singer Han Hong (1971) is one of China’s most famous pop singers and she is a regular at the Spring Festival Gala. For decades, the singer of mixed Tibetan and Han ethnicity was a member of a performing arts troupe within the People’s Liberation Army.
Tonight, she is singing the song So Many People in This World (这世界那么多人). She seemed to have some tears streaming down her face during her performance.
Jan 31 21:45
Every year you’ll see a Peking Opera act passing by during the Gala. This year, it is a mix of martial art acts together with singing. The performers are from all generations, from those born in the 1930s to those born in the early 2000s.
About that Sweater..
Jan 31 21:47
The sweater worn in the ‘debt dodger’ comic skit earlier tonight might have looked cheap, it’s actually $260! Gala viewers who liked the sweater can buy it online straight away.
Grabbing Red Envelopes with JD
Jan 31 21:48
After the Gala partnered with Tencent, Kuaishou, and Baidu in previous years, they’ve now partnered up with e-commerce giant JD.com. Throughout the show, you’ll see various ‘media moments’ during which viewers can ‘catch’ red envelopes.
Actually, the Gala became especially linked to social media it first featured this kind of exchange of ‘hongbao’, red envelopes with money, which is a Chinese New Year’s tradition. In 2015, for the first time, viewers were able to receive virtual ‘hongbao’ as part of a cooperation between CCTV and WeChat. WeChat users shook their phones 11 billion times that night in order to ‘grab’ the money. These kinds of campaigns drew in much more young viewers – the Gala was previously viewed as something for older audiences – although it still might be, social media has helped get the younger viewers involved, too.
“Sending Out Red Envelopes”
Jan 31 21:57
This is another comical sketch, titled Sending Out Red Envelopes (发红包) featuring some well-known comedians including Jia Bing.
This skit is another one focused on money: “You’d almost think that the director still needs to get his money back from someone,” some Weibo users are joking, since money seems to come up a lot as a theme in tonight’s comedy.
Jan 31 22:09
Next up, there are some happy vibes with Da Zhangwei (大张伟) and Wang Mian (王勉) in this “music talk show” (“音乐脱口秀”) segment.
You might know Da Zhangwei as ‘Wowkie Zhang’ from the Sunshine Rainbow White Pony song. Attention was drawn to the song in the West when internet users thought that the chorus of the song, where Wowkie Zhang repeats the lyrics “nèi nèi ge nèi nèi nèi ge nèi ge nèi nèi,” was racist. But ‘nèi ge‘ is actually a filler word in Chinese (like ‘like’).
Jan 31 22:21
Usually, you’d expect magic performances to come a bit later in the show, but here we are with Chinese magician Daly Tang (邓男子). We’re halfway through the show.
This act is not received well on social media, with many saying this can’t even be called magic. Chinese actress being used as a ‘prop’ for the act is trending at this time.
Jan 31 22:25
There are martial arts at the festival every year, but this performance is a bit special since it combines comedy and martial arts and also is performed by many younger performers from the Henan Shaolin Tugou School of Martial Arts.
It is also a special performance because it combines martial arts with humor, whereas these kinds of performances are usually more serious.
According to one of the coaches of the children, the students practiced their facial expressions in the mirror every day as part of their homework. They also looked at film and television materials to learn from.
Jan 31 22:39
This ‘crosstalk’ performance features xiangsheng actors Jiang Kun and Dai Zhicheng. Xiangsheng (相声) or crosstalk is a traditional Chinese comedic performance that involves a dialogue between two performers, using rich language and many puns.
Meanwhile, presenter Sa Beining is going viral for his peculiar role in the magic act.
Jan 31 22:45
Every year, there’s always one song dedicated to children and it’s often all over the place. In the past, we’ve seen dancing panda’s and dogs, flowers, and even swinging broccoli on stage. Here we see the Air Force Blue Sky Children’s Art Troupe on stage together with Zhao Yixi (赵芸熙) in this beautiful space-themed performance.
The kids’ performance “Star Dreams” also contained a special surprise: the little girl showing up at the end is actually the little daughter of female Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping, who is now on the 6-month Shenzhou-13 mission. She asked her mum to bring her back a star.
Yunnan Group Dance 摆出一个春天
Jan 31 22:48
This performance showcases the traditional folk dances from Lancang Lahu Autonomous County, located in the southwestern part of Yunnan province (not too far from the Myanmar border).
“Rest Area” Outside of the Hospital
Jan 31 23:00
Another comical skit, titled ‘Rest Area Story’ (休息区的故事), is performed by Guo Donglin (郭冬临), Shao Feng (邵峰), Han Yunyun (韩云云), Huang Yang (黄杨), Jiang Lilin (姜力琳), Zhang Dabao (张大宝).
Guo Donglin is notable for performing xiangsheng and sketch comedy and has appeared at the Gala for many years.
In this performance, we see a couple, who are both working on the frontlines of the epidemic, arguing together.
"Mask-wearing me when I say hi to my friends but they don't recognize me" pic.twitter.com/JmJiZpuWwT
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) January 31, 2022
Sanxingdui Relics Ceremony and Dance
Jan 31 23:14
Chinese director Zhang Guoli is coming on stage now for this special ceremony that is all about the relics that were unearthed in southwest China earlier in 2021. A gold mask dating back over 3,000 years was among hundreds of relics uncovered from a series of sacrificial pits in southwest China. The finds were made at Sanxingdui, a 4.6-square-mile archeological site outside Chengdu.
Zhu Fengwei (朱凤伟) and Wang Xi (王西) perform this creative dance performance titled Golden Mask, of course referring to the special artifact found at Sanxingdui.
Jan 31 23:17
Canto-pop is here! The singers performing this Shalalala song are all established names from Hong Kong. There’s Alan Tan, a big name in the Cantopop scene of the 1980s. There’s Kenny Bee who has been in the entertainment industry for at least three decades. We also see Bennett Pang, Anthony Chan, and Bingo Tso.
Together, these artists once were in the Hong Kong English pop band The Wynners, which became one of the most popular teen idol groups in Hong Kong during the 1970s.
True Love Dance
Jan 31 23:22
The China Acrobatic Troupe is on stage to perform the True Love Dance (真爱起舞). Singing are Chinese actors and singers Ren Jialun (任嘉伦), Roy Wang (王源), Victoria Song (宋茜), and Jike Junyi (吉克隽逸).
Jan 31 23:33
This xiangsheng or ‘crosstalk’ performance is by Lu Xin and Yu Hao. Crosstalk usually involves two actors with one being the “joker” and the other being the “teaser,” it is all about word jokes and playing with rhythm and language.
Meanwhile, on Weibo, many netizens are complaining that they don’t find the language performances as funny as before and that they are missing the older performers they grew up seeing on tv.
You are the Gift of My Life
Jan 31 23:38
This song is sung by the renowned Chinese singer and songwriter Liu Huan (刘欢), who is famous for his work within China’s pop music industry. Outside of China, is also known for performing at the 2008 Olympics Ceremony, joined by Sarah Brightman to sing the official song You and Me. Liu actually has a small Olympic pin on his hat as a nod to the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Liu Huan is praised for being down-to-earth, as he's singing at the Gala wearing casual clothes (a pin on his cap is a nod to the 2008 Olympics!) and he didn't even buy a new jacket for the occasion – some Weibo users found this older pic of him wearing the same pic.twitter.com/t5LyjmYoVH
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) January 31, 2022
Jan 31 23:40
The song Our Era (我们的时代) is performed by Zhang Ye (张也) and Lü Jihong (吕继宏) who have often sung together at earlier Spring Festivals, mostly singing patriotic songs bringing an ode to China, Chinese people, and China’s landscapes.
Jan 31 23:43
Like every year, this is the part of the show where some ‘exemplary persons’ get honored for their accomplishments. This special segment pays a tribute to recipients of the July 1st Medal, the Party’s highest honor, recognizing exceptional service and contributions to the Party and the country.
Jan 31 23:46
We suddenly find ourselves immersed in an underwater world together with Chinese singer-songwriter Li Ronghao and Taiwanese singer Angela Zhang for the song Love Together (爱在一起).
Yellow River, Yangtze River
Jan 31 23:52
Mainland China, HK, Macau, and Taiwan are all represented on stage for this song!
This song (黄河 长江) is performed by Chinese top actor and singer Chen Kun (陈坤 , 1979), who is also known as Aloys Chen. Together singing with him are Taiwanese singer Jam Hsiao and Hong Kong rapper/singer/multi-talent Jackson Wang. From Macao there’s the musical artist Sean Pang (Pang Veng-Sam/彭永琛).
The Bells of Spring
Jan 31 23:55
The Bells of Spring (春天的钟声) is a song performed by Gala veteran Sun Nan and the singer Tan Weiwei.
Sun Nan (孙楠) is a famous Chinese Mandopop singer who performed at the Gala multiple times over the past year, including the iconic 2016 performance where he danced together with 540 robots.
Tan Weiwei (谭维维), also known as Sitar Tan, is a singer from Sichuan who rose to fame when she became a runner-up in the Super Girl talent show. In 2020, she released a noteworthy album titled 3811 which focused on the struggles women in China are facing, with each of the 11 songs on the album telling stories of women from diverse backgrounds.
Twelve O’Clock Moment
Jan 31 0:00
It’s twelve o’clock. Happy New Year, everybody!
This special moment is celebrated together with Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu. The three were sent into China’s space station aboard the Shenzhou-13 spaceship on October 16, 2021, for a six-month stay – the longest ever in-orbit duration for ‘taikonauts.’
Winter Olympics Special
Feb 1 00:09
We just saw Ice and Snow Twinkling in the Chinese Year under the guidance of the renowned conductor Chen Xieyang, who is also Honorary Music Director of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
Following were some words from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. Last week, the Olympic chief met face-to-face with Xi Jinping as China is getting ready to host the Winter Games.
Then this is the official Olympic song Light Up the Dream (点亮梦) performed by baritone Liao Changyong and Hongkong pop diva Coco Lee. On stage with them are 19 foreign hosts of CGTN.
Light Up Your Dreams was released in September 2021 by the Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee as a song meant to communicate positivity and hope (“There’s a miracle waiting for you after the storm”).
Also performing: China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.
Feb 1 00:13
Some online criticism on an earlier short play performed tonight about the hospital staff couple arguing about a spot to go abroad. The husband told the wife not to go because she is female. The online doctor network 丁香园 is now pointing out it’s sexist to say females should not go abroad as people “would be all focusing on how pretty she is instead of getting medical help.”
Feb 1 00:20
After the Song of the Land we have now switched to Hotpot Sonata (火锅奏鸣曲).
This song is an ode to hotpot! And we love hotpot!
The performance, among others, is by Chongqing Song and Dance Troupe.
Creative music, dance, poetry and painting “Reminiscence of the South”
Feb 1 00:23
This song is called Remembering the South (忆江南) and is performed by a male group of older and younger performers, including the 68-year-old Chinese mainland actors Pu Cunxin(濮存昕, 68 years old), Feng Yuanzheng (冯远征, 59 years old), Ding Zhi-Cheng (丁志诚, 58 years old), and the Taiwanese actor Li-Chun Lee (李立群, 69 years old).
Among the younger singers (1980s/1990s), there’s Ayanga (阿云嘎), Chinese musical theater actor, singer and songwriter of Mongol ethnicity; Taiwanese Mandopop singer Aska Yang (杨宗纬), Chinese singer Shawn Zheng aka Zheng Qiyuan (郑棋元) and the Chinese operatic tenor Cai Chengyu(蔡程昱).
Many on social media find this performance so beautiful that they wonder why it was scheduled so late in the evening.
Feb 1 00:26
Chinese actor Zhu Yilong (朱一龙, 1988) is on stage singing the song Happy Hour (欢乐时光). It is not the first time for the Beijing Film Academy graduate to take part in the show. Last year, he performed together with Jackie Chan in one of the most anticipated acts of the night, which was a performance dedicated to all the health workers during the epidemic.
With Zhu there is the “queen of TV ratings”, Chinese actress Zhao Liying (赵丽颖), there’s TFBoys leader Karry Wang aka Wang Junkai (王俊凯), and Yisa Yu aka Yu Kewei (郁可唯).
Dance by Jilin City Song and Dance Troupe, China Post Art Troupe, Shandong Arts Institute, Zhongnan University of Nationalities School of Music and Dance, and the Beijing Modern Music Training Institute.
Song “Unforgettable Tonight”
Feb 1 00:23
As always, the last song of tonight is Unforgettable Night (难忘今宵), the traditional closing song of the Spring Festival. The song was composed in 1984 when CCTV was preparing for its second Spring Festival Gala. Chief director Huang Yihe invited Qiao Yu and Wang Ming to write a closing song for the Gala in a simple yet popular style. The lyrics are by Qiao Yu (乔羽), the music is by Wang Ming (王酩).
Every year, the song is sung by Li Guyi (李谷一), who became famous with the song Homeland Love (乡恋) around the time of China’s Reform and Opening Up – the singer and her songs are nostalgic for many viewers. Li Guyi also appeared at the very first version of the Gala in 1983 and became the singer that sang the most at the event. She is singing together with Yang Hongji (杨洪基), Huo Yong (霍勇), and Yi Liyuan (伊丽媛).
With her on stage are all performers out tonight. It’s a wrap! Thank you for joining us and cheers to the Year of the Tiger.
1 For more on the political and socio-cultural meaning of the Gala, see Gao Yuan, 2012, “Construction of National Identity Through Media Ritual: A Case Study of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala,” Master’s Thesis, Uppsala University, Media & Communication Studies;
Yuan Yan, 2017, “Casting an ‘Outsider’ in the Ritual Center: Two Decades of Performances of ‘Rural Migrants’ in CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala,” Global Media and China 2 (2): 169-182.
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China’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million
Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.
Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.
The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.
The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).
Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.
China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).
With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.
Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.
Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”
It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.
Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.
Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.
Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.
By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes.
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