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China This Week, Feb. 6 – 12, 2016

Want to know about the hottest trending topics in China, you won’t see on TV or newspapers? Follow the weekly updates from U.S.-China Perception Monitor, “China This Week”. We are providing you with the most talked-about topics, most interesting points and must-know information of Chinese culture and society.

1. A television disaster

Ah, the Spring Festival. A wonderful time of year to meet with loved ones, eat good food, and settle around the family television to watch the annual New Year’s Gala…and savagely criticize it. Chinese social media exploded with disappointment leading to some of the most brutal (and hilarious) comments on Chinese internet.

 

Trans: This is the state of everyone watching the New Year Gala today
Trans: This is the state of everyone watching the New Year Gala today
Weibo5
Trans: I don’t really understand what you young people are laughing at

However, Lü Yitao, director of the show, remains satisfied with his work. He told CCTV reporters “I gave it 100 points. I think we turned in a satisfying test. We will take the good suggestions, and ignore the bad ones.”

Chinese viewers did not share the Director’s opinions as they felt this year’s gala was simply propaganda, reviving old communist songs which are not popular with China’s young population with one young Chinese social media user going so far to post:

Weibo3
Trans: 2016 Chinese New Year Gala’s two head directors

Although there was dissatisfaction at the obvious propaganda being funneled through the television, the main point of criticism was that 2016’s New Year Gala was boring, unenjoyable, and un-relatable to young and old alike.

2. How to avoid Spring Festival drama?

Are you a Chinese twenty-something starting a new life in the big city? Are you spending your daylight hours working hard to climb up the corporate ladder, without time to focus on your social life?

If you are, we know how hard this time of year can be: waking up before the break of dawn, pushing your way through huge crowds of travelers in order to grab that last economy seat back to your hometown to see your parents for the Spring Festival.

Now that you have trekked over half the country squeezed in a seat between a sleeping salaryman and a crying baby, you can finally get off your train. The scents of your hometown draw memories of childhood and the cool early spring breeze relaxes your tired body, still overheated from being squeezed in the train like canned sardines. You breathe in the fresh air that you just cannot seem to get in the city anymore. Everyone seems happy. Everything seems right. Turning your head, you see your parents, their faces wrinkled and tired as they smile at you. Now that you see them, you walk quickly to them, happy to embrace them and hear them say those magical words: “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?”

Do you want to avoid this awkward situation this Spring Festival? Then consider renting a significant other at Taobao! (Kissing, hand-holding, and other dubious physical contact not included).

Taobao by Alibaba Group, now servicing the lonely
Taobao by Alibaba Group, now servicing the lonely

In China, there is intense familial and societal pressure for men to be financially successful before marrying, and at the same time for women to marry young. These pressures get tougher as professionals, particularly women, reach their thirties and certain boyfriend/girlfriend rental services help to avoid family haranguing during the holidays.

However, while these instances produce a chuckle, Western observers should know these services are not common, as there is a social stigma attached to services like this.

Rather than finding or renting a significant other, some young Chinese have remained indignant and this popular advertisement appeared in Beijing Dongzhimen subway station:

Sign

Sign2
Trans: Dear mom and dad, the world is so big and life is rich and various. Being single can also be happy

With almost two million people traveling through this subway station every day, it is sure to catch the attention of at least some people passing through.

Spring Festival can lead to a lot of family conflicts over romantic life, and with mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers all chatting about one’s social life, drama is bound to ensue. Unfortunately, for many young Chinese, going home without a significant other can lead to a lot of hometown drama.

Oh well, at least you can finally relax and let your hair down.

Wayyy down…

3. Shifting economies

There is interesting deliberation on the economic front, as India has overtaken China as the fastest growing major economy in the world. Lately, China’s growth has been slowing, growing at 6.9 percent as opposed to India’s 7.3 percent this year, both numbers being a rate that developed nations only dream of having.

Collapsing oil prices are credited with helping India’s growth, helping to tame India’s inflation on food price and the pro-market ministry of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has introduced reform and attracted foreign investment.

Shine on you crazy diamond.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Will a growing India and a slowing China cause much animosity between the two? No, probably not. China and India have worked together on numerous occasions, particularly through organizations like the BRICS’s New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It is likely that India and China are likely to remain on friendly terms.

BRICS
“We’re aaall in thiiis togeeether!”

However, talks of Chinese-Indian tensions are not unfounded, as China maintains close ties with Pakistan, India’s nemesis, and with growing fear of a Chinese “string of pearls” developing in the Indian Ocean as China builds closer ties with countries in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

On the Chinese side, there is suspicion of India seeking closer defense relations with the United States and Japan, as the countries have consistently participated in the annual joint maritime exercise Malabar in the Indian Ocean and, as rumor has it, India could participate in South China Sea issues, exacerbating tensions.

As for now, India is in too good of a situation to rock the proverbial boat, and given the current geopolitical climate may enjoy a certain amount of flexibility as American and Chinese suitors try to woo the world’s fastest growing major economy into coordinating with their own  grand strategies.

"Whoa there boys, hands off the merchandise."
“Whoa there boys, hands off the merchandise.”

4. Cheat Codes: Mahjong

A simple walk down the street in a major Chinese city will bring a familiar sight to any China visitor’s mind.

Mahjong! One of the most popular Chinese games draws many players across China, pulling out the tiles and having a game almost anywhere. More often than not, it becomes quite a site, and people occasionally gather around to see the game underfoot.

Can’t play Mahjong? Have not fear. We have a cheat code! Popular on social media this week, a science student formulated a Mahjong rule so simple that even you could win in a second.

When you have Mahjong tiles that match the following equation, you are sure win, earning you mad street cred in China!

n x AAA + m x ABC + DD (m x n can be 0)

See! Easier than up, up, down down, left, right, left, right, A, B, Start
See! Easier than up, up, down down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start

By AARON WALAYAT, compiled by YAO SUN on USCNPM.