A funny rivalry has erupted between popular U.S. and Chinese comedy shows.
The saga began recently when American TV comic Conan O’Brien, whose show is aired by the TBS network, discovered a Chinese show ripped off his opening credits, image by image.
The Chinese offender was a Sohu (搜狐) produced internet TV show, Da Peng Yakking (大鹏嘚吧嘚), O’Brien was fast on the track, noticing this copycat act (山寨) and poking fun at Da Peng’s show. Because of the blatant copying by the “weird show,” as he called it, O’Brien decided to copy the strange style of the Chinese show, including imposing images and sound effects onto the screen.
For example, Da Peng’s show had superimposed a half-naked picture of Zhang Chaoyang (张朝阳), the CEO of Sohu. To make fun of this, O’Brien superimposes a picture of a random shirtless Asian man. There are also sound effects and special effects that O’Brien copies.
Da Peng picked up on what was going on and in his next show, stripped away the offending credits, acknowledged the humiliation of being found out, and apologized to O’Brien and his production team.
The English subtitles (after you click “cc” on the Youtube video) show that Da Peng is actually offended by being called a “weird” show, saying that there is more than just American humor in the world. Da Peng also makes fun of Conan’s tricks. “First, that naked dude picture that you put up, have to say he pales in comparison to Zhang Chaoyang (the CEO of Sohu).”
Will this be the end of the issue or will the two hosts find ways to keep it going?
In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin reacts after scoring during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Basketball player Jeremy Lin, or Lin Shuhao (林书豪) as he is known in Chinese speaking circles, has hit the mainstream in China.
The Harvard grad has come out of seemingly nowhere to have an incredible run with the NBA’s New York Knicks.
“Linsanity”, the term for the crazy following he has amassed, is reaching its peak.
Chinese netziens are talking about his nationality, ancestral home, his education and the general media craze surrounding him.
Leehom Wang (王力宏), a super famous American-Chinese singer based in Taiwan, wrote on his Sina microblog on February 10:
Whose weibo did I follow today? Of course it’s NBA’s American-born Chinese Jeremy Lin! He is making us proud in the States, and has reversed many stereotypes that Americans have about us, and making them see for the first time! The American media have invented a new term for the mania around him, Linsanity! I really hope that I will have the opportunity to see him play, and shout out loud: “Go Jeremy!”
Luqiu Luwei (闾丘露薇), a Phoenix TV journalist and well-known blogger, re-posted a column that she had written on her blog. It has been read more than 120,000 times and garnered more than 1,000 comments. She wrote:
There are already some Chinese journalists who have discussed the possibility of Lin joining a Chinese basketball team. Even though the Chinese Basketball Association have said that they have never invited him, an American journalist revealed that if Lin hadn’t been so great on a few matches recently, he might have joined Yao Ming’s Shanghai Sharks. The biggest problem for Lin, if he want[ed] to join Chinese basketball is, sources who are in the know say… he would have to become a Chinese citizen.
This, of course, complicates everything. In the media reports in China, not many of them will mention Lin’s parents as holding American passports, while at the same time holding Taiwan passports. And now, Taiwan has officially said that they can give Lin a Taiwan passport too. Also recently, officials in Zhejiang province have said that Lin’s ancestral home is Zhejiang, but his family has said that ancestral home is dictated on the father’s side, and his paternal grandfather was a through-and-through Taiwanese.
Let’s keep watching the game, and learn something from Lin, whatever you do, don’t politicize it.
Most of the commenters on the piece seem to have left only one word, either “American” or “Taiwanese.” The debate seems to have ranged to some who think he is the proud son of Zhejiang province, and those who even think he’s Korean.
It seems to the non-sports fan, Lin’s nationality will be of intense interest. Also for the non-sports fan, Lin’s education at Harvard (哈佛大学) has impressed the education-centric Chinese.
Suddenly realized how popular Jeremy Lin is, perhaps more than Yao Ming (姚明) at the time? However, Lin really is brilliant! He is a Harvard graduate!
Yen-j (严爵), an American-Taiwanese singer-song writer, who is currently based and making music in Taiwan, even made a “theme song” for Jeremy Lin. The song is called “Invincible East” (东方不败) and features the English rap:
Take home the money take home the trophy
Feel free to take it personally
But share the glory
That’s what we call Lin-sanity
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters. (AP File Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg (马克·扎克伯格) may want to come to China, but the company’s IPO filing certainly lowers expectations.
In its recent IPO filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook says:
China is a large potential market for Facebook, but users are generally restricted from accessing Facebook from China. We do not know if we will be able to find an approach to managing content and information that will be acceptable to us and to the Chinese government. It is also possible that governments of one or more other countries may seek to censor content available on our website, restrict access, block our website, or impose other restrictions that may affect the accessibility of Facebook for an extended period of time or indefinitely.
The social networking website (社交网站) has more than 845 million registered users, including Chinese speaking populations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. However, they have almost no penetration in the mainland Chinese market.
Recent media reports have included speculation that Facebook could never do will in China because:
China would be a tough market to crack. China’s RenRen social network and Sina, parent of Chinese microblogging service Weibo, have strong footholds there.” (USA Today)
Indeed, Chinese social networking sites such as Renren (人人) are already well established. On Baidu (百度), China’s biggest search engine, its wiki-style page Baidu Knowledge featured the popular question:
“Who can tell me what are the advantages of Facebook? Why are there people hoping that it would IPO on the Chinese mainland but why do people not wish its own brands to be made international?” (这个facebook到底优点在哪里？为什么要期待他上市中国内陆而不是将中国自己的品牌推向世界？)
This reflects the mood of many netizens, why should they use a foreign service when Sina microblog, Renren, Kaixin and others are all providing similar services?
On another popular social networking site, Douban (豆瓣), a post in January 2012 asked if Chinese mainlanders are able to go on Facebook. The replies were varied:
Sea: What is Facebook? I’ve never heard of Facebook. I hate it when people Facebook this and Facebook that.
Illusion: Who said China could be a financial center of the world? It’s laughable, information is unable to flow from both sides!
hchchc: Please this poster don’t lie. I have never heard of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or MySpace.
From all of the netizen reaction, it seems most people are resigned to the fact that Facebook will not make it to China anytime soon.
Netizens have been agog at the online flame wars between Han Han (韩寒) and Fang Zhouzi (方舟子), real name Fang Shimin (方是民), since the Spring Festival.
Fang Zhouzi, known as a popular myth buster, once identified a former CEO, Tang Jun (唐俊), as holding a diploma from a fake university. He has also sometimes turned to left-wing organizations and people he thinks pander to western liberal notions. Just before Fang took on Han Han, he was trying to expose another internet cultural icon who is popular with the Chinese youth of today, Luo Yonghao (罗永浩) the founder of the popular blog forum Bullog (牛博), as faking his own merits.
Han Han, who authored classic teenage rebel novels such as Triple Door (三重门), is also a prolific blogger whose Sina blog has consistently been in the top three in the country. Recently, Fang Zhouzi has persistently accused him of not being writer for his own work －through a series of preposterous claims. For example, Fang said a 16 year old writer cannot possibly cite works by writers like Turgenev, thus proving that Han did not write the novels. Fang Zhouzi thinks that Han Han’s father, Han Renjun (韩仁均), is the author of these novels.
However, Han Han has recently attracted a lot of press for his side of the debate, and his supporters have rallied around him. Now Han Han says he is suing Fang for libel.
In a recent interview on Phoenix TV that was uploaded and went viral, Han Han explained the reason he has sued Fang is for the moral good of writers as a whole: if anyone wanted to discredit a writer in the future, they would see the example of Fang Zhouzi.
Han Han also brought up the ridiculousness of the accusations. His father, Han Renjun had posted onto his Sina microblog account letters Han Han write to him when was in high school. They were lists for book buying, proving that Han was a reader. Instead of taking this as evidence, Fang Zhouzi seized on the signatures of the letters: one letter was signed “from your son Han Han” whereas the other simply said “from your son Han.” Fang said it couldn’t have been written by Han Han as people keep their signature consistent!
Even though real-name ID registering on Sina microblog hasn’t been made official yet, and there are few signs of implementation, real name ID is a change that is gaining attention.
The reason for real name registration is for the greater control on the Chinese internet. Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, justified the government’s policy to counter “false, illegal and obscene information that might harm the healthy development of the Internet in China.”
But concerns about the policy as well as the failure to implement the system for those already registered and those outside of China, seems to be reflected in comments on the Sina microblog:
“LittleParty” (小党), a blogger who has over 20,000 fans and is also a journalist at Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报), said:
Sina’s real name system is directed at the domestic market, if you were registering for Sina microblog outside of the country, you don’t need to input your real name. Is this the superiority of socialism?
Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), a prominent lawyer, questioned why the real name system is needed when there is already a verification process at play, much like Twitter. He hints that it’s political as much as anything else:
According to Beijing’s regulations, Sina microblog must use the real name system (this is related to the backstage), but right now Sina microblog already gives a group of people a “V” [for verifcation], what use is a real name system then?
A famous television host, Meng Fei (孟非) has said on his own microblog that it is useless to point to the argument that “the great masses” wants real name system, because they clearly don’t:
When I hear of this I want to cuss! You can do whatever you want, no-one can stop you, but if you say that the real name system for the internet is “the wishes of the masses” please then give me your evidence!
Perhaps it was put best by Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), the lawyer.
The best thing about the real name system is that it can conveniently catch pranksters, and let the Party rid the ordinary people of evil…
If you are a new user of Sina microblog, you are expected to input your ID card number when you register, as well as your real name. But it is not yet known how efficient the system will be.
Sohu and Tencent have not announced a real name policy yet, but are likely to in the near future.
What do you think of the real name policy for Chinese weibos? Let us know in the comments.
Passengers line up to buy train tickets at Beijing Railway Station Saturday Feb. 3, 2007. (AP/Greg Baker)
The Spring Festival (春节) is very near －this year New Year’s eve (除夕) falls on January 22. Many netizens, like the rest of the nation, are traveling back for the holidays. At this time, not only do the country’s offices and shops shut down, but migrant workers and ordinary people working in the cities are scrambling for tickets to go back to their hometowns.
But when a country as large as China decides to go on the move, things as simple as buying a train ticket can become an unhappy adventure.
Unlike pervious years, this year netizens can use their savviness on the Internet to book their tickets. I tracked down one user to explain the details.
Netizens are using websites like www.12306.cn to book their tickets online. Peng Xin, who works at Sogou.com, is traveling to Henan (河南) and took me through the process of ordering tickets.
“You have to register first, with a real ID card number I think,” he said. “You could buy several tickets for different people with one account. Make sure train station and time of your departure and destination are available.”
When I asked about the payment method, he told me “You pay online. Take your ID card to a nearby train station or tickets stand-by to get the real ticket.”
However, its not always quite as easy as it seems and I asked about the challenge of buying tickets this way.
“First of all, the whole site is frequently unavailable. Secondly, when you are lucky enough to open the site, you find that you cannot log in,” he said. “When you’ve finally logged in, you find that all tickets are gone, nothing is left.”
“When you are super lucky and find a ticket you want, you click the ‘order’ button with tears in your eyes.” But then a friendly pop-up tells you ‘truly sorry, no more tickets, please try again!’
We’re just guessing that he might have had still tears in his eyes after that.
However, not everyone’s experience is negative, Cao Lin, who works at the China Youth Daily (中国青年报) microblogged: “I got tickets after three tries, sometimes you’ll be surprised if you don’t expect too much.”
This month, the Taiwanese-owned manufacturing factory Foxconn (富士康) was in the news again. At one of the company’s factories in Wuhan, more than 100 workers amassed on the roof and threatened suicide to protest poor working conditions.
The corporation, responsible for manufacturing popular products such as the Apple (苹果) iPhone and the Amazon Kindle, saw a number of suicides in 2010 and has been criticized for the working conditions in some of its factories.
The dispute was resolved without any deaths this time, but the issue hasn’t gone unnoticed on the Internet. intouchZhengJun, the managing editor of That’s Beijing wrote:
It’s said that in Vietnam there are 10 times as many Shenzhen Foxconn factories. Three years ago the foreign-invested manufacturing companies started to move their factories out of China, this will climax in 2012. They will take away their equipment and order forms, leaving polluted water and air behind them, as well as a bunch of workers who don’t have the knowledge or the technology, but whose wages have raised to 3,000RMB. Looks like Chinese enterprises will have to take over.
The Sina microblog user CapitalSiyueSiRi had a positive view point. He argues that Foxconn is actually the kind of company that, given the opportunity, could do well on the market:
… Foxconn is a platform for manufacturing, it’s not as simple as contract manufacturing. There are some ordinary products, if unaffected by intelletual copyright, then the products at Foxconn can rank number three on the market if it were sold.
It’s surprising the number of people who work at Foxconn, at their different factories, be it Tianjin (天津) or Shenzhen (深圳). Gao Zaohui, who works in the Tianjin branch, talks about standing for work day after day, and not liking how hard the work is:
This is the seventh day working for Foxconn: stood all day again today, I reckon I’ll be standing every day from now on. I’ll be very tired. I talk with my work colleague next to me to get through the day. I got to know someone who’s from the same place as me, we can probably take the train home together for Chinese New Year.
In the past, high end electronics such as the products produced by Foxconn were almost exclusively made for sale in the U.S., Japan and other wealthy nations. But now, many of the products being assembled in China are increasingly being sold in China.
As an example, the Apple 4s just debuted on the mainland and caused scuffles in its flagship store in Beijing. There are even rumors that the iPad3 will be on sale in China soon, straight from the factory line.
As Chinese people buy more and more of the items they make, will working conditions change?
Masks and costumes are usually reserved for the movies or parties. but recently, two “superheros” have taken to the streets of the Beijing to donate to the poor.
One superhero is a woman, going by the name of Chinese Redbud Woman (北京紫荆侠), was inspired by a Hong Kong version. She wears revealing tight clothes and a blue mask.
The Sina microblog home of the website dooo.cc talked about the obvious flashiness of the “superhero”:
Why does the Chinese Redbud Woman need to wear revealing clothes when she is doing charitable things? This kind of self-promotion, can be seen as sex charity. However, compared to charity organizations that are corrupt, it’s not harming anyone.
Meanwhile, at The Beijing News (新京报), there are reports of a similar act by a man in his 20s going by the name of the “Amazing Bright Superhero” (神奇炯炯侠). Although he says he wasn’t inspired by Redbud, his actions of bringing ordinary people happiness before the Chinese New Year are deemed to be similar in sentiment.
There is also the worry that he is self promoting. The Beijing News asks:
tbn: Are you worried that people will say you are promoting yourself?
Bright Superhero: I think this is a way of laughing at myself. “Jiong” (“jiongjiong” appears in his superhero name to mean bright) sounds like the Chinese internet meme for Orz) is representative of my generation. I took the name from the Chinese subtitles of Mr and Mrs Incredible.
I don’t want to be famous and that’s why I’ve masked myself. All my props are from Taobao and are very cheap. I had four things but bought one more lately: a belt, because a netizen had said my belt wasn’t cool enough.
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, no-one is going to complain about the number of good deeds being done. For example, “Amazing Bright” helped migrant laborers book their train tickets home online.