Weibo Night is an event that many netizens have been looking forward to for weeks. The night has been a recurring event since 2003, when the Sina media company first started the ceremony to look back on the hottest Weibo topics and celebrities of the previous year. The night was initially known as the ‘Sina Grand Ceremony’ (新浪网络盛典) until it turned into the ‘Weibo Night’ (微博之夜) in 2010.
During the ceremony of Weibo Night, that took place on the evening of January 16 (Beijing time) at the China National Convention Center, various prices were awarded in categories such as ‘The Hottest Weibo Person of the Year’, ‘Most Influential Weibo Musician of the Year’, ‘Weibo King & Queen’, ‘The Most Influential Companies’, or the ‘Biggest Topics of the Year.’
The award ceremony was broadcasted live on Weibo and received over 510,000 comments directly below the live broadcast on the Weibo Night account page. The hashtag ‘Weibo Night’ (#微博之夜#) was used over 28 million times.
The Biggest Events of the Year
While What’s on Weibo has compiled its own A-Z of the biggest trends on Weibo of 2016, the official Weibo Night jury picked some very different topics as the top events of the year – all of which focused on the Chinese nation.
The “retrial of Nie Shubin” (#聂树斌案再审#) was chosen as one of the biggest topics of the year. Nie was a young man who was executed in 1995 after being convicted for murder. After his family campaigned to prove his innocence for over two decades, the supreme court ruled in 2016 that there was “insufficient evidence” used in Nie’s trial, and his conviction was overturned. According to many Weibo commenters, the retrial proved that China’s legal system has made a lot of progress since the 1990s.
The topic “green channel for organ transportation” (#器官转运绿色通道#) also made it to the top events of the year according to the Weibo Night jury. The topic addresses the news that China established a “green organ channel” in 2016; a faster-prioritized transport system for human organs that will shorten the time it takes for organs to get to transplant patients, avoiding unnecessary health problems and delays. The topic made headlines in May of 2016, but actually only attracted a few thousand comments on Weibo.
According to the Weibo Night awards, the year’s biggest topic was “China Cannot Get Smaller” (#中国一点都不能少#), a slogan and image posted by state newspaper People’s Daily in July of 2016 around the time of the South China Sea trial that was brought to the tribunal in The Hague by the Philippines, which argued that Chinese activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea are illegal.
The tribunal ruled that China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea indeed violated international law. The verdict angered many netizens and triggered a wave of cyber-nationalism.
The topic and image emphasizes that there is only One China, and that China includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and the disputed islands – and that there is no such thing as a ‘China’ that does not include these areas.
The divorce of Wang Baoqiang, which actually was one of the biggest topics of 2016, was not mentioned in the Weibo Night list. Shortly after the celebrity divorce and love scandal became one of the biggest topics on Weibo of 2016, the Chinese media watchdog announced that it would restrict the hyping of private scandals of the rich and famous.
In the Weibo Night ‘top hashtag list’, the catchphrase “mystical powers” (#洪荒之力#) came in first. The term became trending after Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui used it during an interview with the state media in Rio.
Weibo’s Most Popular Artists
This year, many of the Weibo People’s Awards went to celebrities in the music category. The Weibo celebrity that won the award for being most “Internationally Influential” was Hong Kong-born American singer-songwriter Coco Lee (李玟).
Chinese pianist Lang Lang (郎朗) was awarded the price for being Weibo’s Biggest Classical Musician, and Taiwanese pop singer Zhang Xinzhe (张信哲) a.k.a. Jeff Chang was awarded with the ‘model singer’ award. Jason Zhang (张杰) won the award for Best Concert of the Year.
The award for Most Popular Singer of the Year went to Chinese rapper Z.Tao (黄子韬), who also won the Most Influential Male Singer award at the 2016 Miaopai Awards.
The Director of the Year award went to Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚) who produced the 2016 movie I Am Not Madame Bovary (我不是潘金莲). Feng was actually awarded twice this evening, as his film also became Weibo’s Best Movie of the Year.
Actresses Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨) and Ma Sichun (马思纯) were selected as winners in the Most Popular Performer category. Both women starred in the 2016 movie Soul Mate (七月与安生).
Most Influential People on Weibo
One of the most influential persons of the year, according to the Weibo Night awards, does not come as a surprise: Papi Jiang (papi酱) is the Weibo vlogger who had her big breakthrough last year with her witty online videos in which she commented on anything from family interactions to dating etiquette. In April 2016, an ad auction showed that companies were willing to pay up to 22 million RMB (3,4 million US$) to get Papi Jiang connected to their brand.
The other ‘most influential’ person was Chinese table tennis player Zhang Jike (张继科), who became the number four player in the world in 2016.
In the sports category, Chinese Olympic swimmer Sun Yang (孙杨) was awarded as Best Sportsman of the Year.
Biggest Brands of the Year
Perhaps the selection of Weibo’s biggest brands of the year during this ceremony was not completely unbiased, as many of the chosen brands were also official sponsors of the show, such as Chinese electronics manufacturer Oppo or Japanese car brand Nissan.
Other selected brands were e-commerce platform Jumei (聚美优品), Alibaba (阿里), Chinese smartphone and electronic brands Huawei (华为) and Xiaomi (小米), and ride-hailing app Didi (滴滴).
Especially Didi made headlines last year when it merged with its American rival Uber. Recently, the original Uber app has closed down and was replaced by an app specially made for the Chinese market.
Weibo King & Queen
One of the most anticipated awards of the night was that of the absolute ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ of Weibo – a People’s Choice Award that netizens could vote for in the weeks preceding the event.
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (@范冰冰) was elected Weibo Queen. The actress has been among the top 10 of celebrities with the most Weibo followers for years. The 35-year-old celebrity is one of China’s most famous fashion icons and actresses. She is also the 4th highest-paid actress in the world. She currently has over 55.1 million Weibo fans, and received over 14 million votes for the title of ‘Weibo Queen’ for this year.
The Weibo ‘King’ of the year is pop group ‘TF Boys’, that received nearly 63 million votes for the ‘King’ award. The all-boy pop group has a huge fanbase in China. 2016 marked their first performance during China’s most prestigious live event – the CCTV Chinese New Year Gala, of which the 2017 Gala will be aired later this month.
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China’s Top Mobile Gaming Apps
China has the largest mobile gaming market in the world. It’s an exciting market not just for game-lovers, but also for those into marketing and advertising.
One of the key drivers behind this online gaming environment is the fact that China is a mobile-first country. China’s average mobile user owns a relatively cheap but high-performance mobile phone, which enables them to play mobile games. As the quality of China’s smartphones keeps on rising, so are the possibilities and developments within China’s mobile gaming market.
The Chinese gaming industry is flourishing, but also highly controlled. Online games are allowed to be imported
To gain more insights in this enormous market, we list five of the mobile apps that currently play an important role in the mobile gaming industry. We made our selection based on the data from the Android app stores Tencent, Baidu, Huawei, and Zhushou360. We tried our best to give you a representative overview of a variety of apps that are currently most used in China, but want to remind you that these lists are by no official “top 5” charts.
This article is part of a series of five articles, listing popular Chinese apps in the categories of short video & live streaming, news, health & sports, and knowledge & education. We’ll list the other categories for you below this article, but let’s move over to review these popular mobile gaming apps now.
#1 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 绝地求生
PlayersUnknown’s Battleground (PUGB) is a so-called ‘sandbox style’ survival game, which basically means that gamers are allowed to freely roam and change the game, that does not have a set storyline, and that they are required to do all they can to survive as long as possible by eliminating its competitors.
In this online multiplayer game, that is called a Fortnite rival, players are placed together with up to 100 other players on an island. As the game proceeds, the battlefield gradually shrinks, putting more pressure on its players. The users have to assemble weapons and other necessities, and in doing so, need to kill their competitors and take their possessions. The last person left is the winner.
PUBG, which is currently the most popular mobile phone game app in China, was created by the South Korean Bluehole. In 2017, Chinese gaming giant Tencent launched the mobile app version of the game. The Chinese version is not entirely the same: it has been adapted to make sure it aligns with ‘socialist values.’
At the moment, there are two versions of PUGB games: Exciting Battlefield (刺激战场) and Full Ahead (全军出击). The games Exciting Battlefield and Full Ahead subsequently ranked most and third most popular game app in the Chinese Apple stores in 2018, with Exciting Battlefield reaching 14,9 million daily active users at the end of 2018. Currently, Exciting Battlefield still ranks the most popular game app in both the Tencent and Zhushou360 app stores.
#2 Honor of Kings or Kings of Glory 王者荣耀
Honor of Kings is a game developed and published by Tencent which was first launched in 2015. The game is a multiplayer online battle arena game, where players have to team up for a five-to-five battle.
Every user can personally assemble their hero and equip it with certain features such as appearance, powers, etc. The goal of the game is to destroy the opponent’s base.
In 2018, Honor of Kings was the second most popular game app in the Chinese Apple store with 53,8 million daily active users in the last quarter. This year, the game especially rose in popularity during the Chinese Lunar New Year: in the week from 4-10 February, Honor of Kings reached 92 million daily active users.
But the game’s popularity isn’t limited to China. In 2017, Tencent launched an international adaption of the game called Arena of Valor. The game was adopted as one of the games at the eSport Demonstration Event at the 2018 Asian Games, where the Chinese team won the gold medal.
#3 Speed QQ / QQ飞车
Speed QQ is a 3D game that combines both casual and competitive racing. The game has three kingdoms: wind, fire, and fantasy.
In each kingdom, there are different kinds of races, and players can move up levels if they beat other players. In the end, the strongest player of all will be crowned ‘king.’ To prove their skills, the best players of each kingdom can also race against each other in races played on racetracks on the border of the several kingdoms.
The game can be played by either a single player or multiplayer, with a maximum of six players.
Speed QQ, just as Honor of Kings and PUBG, is a game by Tencent – it is the world’s largest game distributor by revenue. Speed QQ was first launched in January 2008 as a PC version, and it was not until 2017 that the mobile app version was released.
#4 Identity V 第5人格
Identity V is a so-called asymmetric warfare game, meaning that the game is a wargame between individuals or a group of players and their hostile opponent.
The horror game, designed in gothic art style, is a one-versus-four multiplayer game. Later in the game, players can decide whether they want to play either the hunter or one of the four survivors.
However, the game is mainly a survivor-based game. The player first enters the game as a detective who receives a mysterious letter inviting the player to investigate an abandoned estate and search for a missing girl. As the player is searching for clues about the missing girl, a hunter will try to catch the player and strap it to a rocket ready for blast off. This is where the three other survivors come in; those are the ones who can free their fellow-survivor from the racket. But if they are too late, the player will be fired off and lose.
Identity V is the newest game app in our selection as it was launched in April of last year by NetEase. Despite its short period on the market, the game gained significant success. The app was the fifth most popular game app in Chinese Apple stores in 2018, with over 26 million downloads.
#5 Mini World 迷你世界
Mini World is a 3D sandbox style game, allowing its users to roam around in the virtual world of the game.
Mini World, also called a block art game, allows its players to build their world by moving around blocks and placing other elements. They can do this alone, but they can also invite friends and create a dream world together. The game closely resembles the Swedish game Minecraft (我的世界), which is also available in China.
Mini World was first launched in December 2015 by a Shenzhen based company. A couple of years later, the game was available in both Android and Apple stores. In 2018, Mini World became the fourth most popular game app in China with 3.7 million daily active users in the third quarter.
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Here Comes Trump the Chinese Opera, Starring Mao Zedong and Kim Jong-un
In “Trump the Opera”, Trump sings and plays ping pong.
“Enjoy this ‘one country, two systems’ creative freedom,” is one of the slogans promoting a new Hong Kong opera production that features US President Trump – played by the same actor who also played Mao Zedong – and North-Korean leader Kim Jong-un, presenting a story revolving around the modern history and current situation of China-US relations and international politics in the form of traditional Chinese art.
The opera, titled “Cantonese Opera Trump” (粵劇特朗普) was written by Fengshui master and playwright Li Kuiming (李居明), who likes to mix up traditional opera with creative new storylines. In this production, ‘Trump’ allegedly will not just be singing; he’ll be playing ping-pong, too.
Promotion posters for the show have attracted the attention of some Weibo netizens, with some calling it “unimaginable.”
This opera is the 34th production made by Li Kuiming, who has some 1,4 million fans on Weibo. Three years ago, Li made headlines for his controversial Chairman Mao opera that explored the private life of Mao Zedong and also featured a scene in which Mao comes back from the dead to talk to Chiang Kai-shek.
The current opera is a sequel to the 2016 production, featuring the same actor, Long Guantian (龍貫天), as President Trump. The role of Kim Jong-un will be performed by Chen Hongjin (陳鴻進).
The press conference for the new opera took place on March 1st, just after the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi ended without a deal. The actors taking on the roles of Trump and Kim, however, posed together shaking hands.
Despite the somewhat controversial theme of the opera, the Singtao Daily writes that Li Kuiming’s production “avoids politically sensitive topics as much as possible.”
“Through this opera, I want to analyze China-USA relations,” Li told reporters: “China and the US have had very good relations for a long time (..), Nixon’s  visit to China marked the friendship between the two countries. At present, the China-US friendship has turned into a struggle.”
Li called it “a gift from heaven” that he was able to get performer Long Guantian to play Mao Zedong previously, praising his “enormous flexibility” in the roles he is able to take on. “For [his] role of Trump, I’ve read many books and thoroughly researched the life and thinking of Trump.”
One reason for the opera to stir some discussions on Chinese social media, is the fact that its promotional poster states that the “three roles” of “Trump, Trump, and Mao Zedong” are all performed by the same actor (Long Guantian).
The name of ‘Trump’ is written in two different ways on the poster, causing much confusion among netizens, who write: “I thought there was only one Trump?!” (To understand more about the two Chinese names of Trump, check this article). It is not clear if there will indeed be two ‘Trumps’ starring in the production or why the poster mentions the name of Trump two times.
The Mingpao newspaper reported that Li has high hopes for this production, quoting: “I have a friend who knows Trump, and who suggested bringing this opera to the White House so that Trump can enjoy it. We could translate it. If I’d ever be invited, of course, I wouldn’t say no.” He also added that he “wouldn’t have the courage” to perform the opera in North Korea.
The opera will be performed at the Hong Kong Sunbeam Theatre from April 12 to April 15. “I guarantee it will be good,” Li says: “If it wouldn’t be good, I wouldn’t put it on stage.”
By Manya Koetse
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