Chinese Official: Pop-up Ads Necessary for the Internet

Posted January 8th, 2012 at 11:30 pm (UTC+0)

Even though new Chinese rules for internet companies were just released, one major item was missing for many. Pop-up ads were not banned.

The reason? China’s internet services are based on free ads, said Li Guobin, an industry inspector for Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (工业和信息化部).

Jean Chen, who is a consultant for, a business portal, told me said he disliked pop-up ads.  Others also said they definitely didn’t like them.

But on the Sina microblog page for the Wall Street Journal, a user called “An Yongtou” was more positive:

If the ads didn’t pop up, how can websites survive? I can accept it as long as there are no bad intentions

“Baby I’m Wrong” had the same idea:

Let it be freer, don’t interfere with it

Sina microblog user “fantasizing” blogged:

There’s no way you can solve [pop-up ads], all the companies, especially China Telecom, have their own pop-up ads

So what is your take on the pop-up ads?  Problem that should be banned or no big deal?

Kim Jong Il Death Still Echoing Online

Posted January 1st, 2012 at 9:46 pm (UTC+0)

The death of Kim Jong Il (金正日) on December 17 caused a stir in the Chinese blogosphere and many comparisons to China in the 70s. But there were also a lot of people unconcerned about his fate, and its relation to the Chinese people.

A sample of Chinese newspapers covering the funeral of Kim Jong Il

A sample of Chinese newspapers covering the funeral of Kim Jong Il

Zheng Jianwei (郑建伟), a human rights lawyer, microblogged in response to the beating of a Chinese free speech activist who apparently wasn’t allowed outside because of the death of Kim Jong Il:

Kim Jong Il is dead. What business is it to Chinese people?

Yang Hengjun (杨恒均), a political commentator and blogger with over 50,000 followers on Sina microblog, said:

North Korean authorities announced an immediate ban on all recreational activities. All government departments including the Ministry of Propaganda, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Public Security started to make preparations under this order, but they looked for three days and found that there was nothing they could ban, because the North Korea under Kim Jong Il ceased to be recreational a long time ago. The only recreation they could ban is eating, but you can’t ban that can you? Some people suggested banning sex.

Lian Peng (连鹏), columnist and author, with over 70,000 followers, quipped on the fatality of dictatorship and the difference between China and North Korea now:

Kim Fatty II is dead, the North Korean people are inconsolable, I believe that most people were really crying, just as China 35 years ago, when everyone was brainwashed, and society was closed. At the time, the world laughed at us just as we’re laughing at North Korea now. When the people are continuously starved to death, the dictators drink wine, and keep philandering. History is really awful, justice is always late, but it won’t not come. People’s wisdom will open up, and the people who are weeping today will realize one day that the misfortune of the country and their own suffering was caused by so-called “great men.”

HumansCan’tStopWeibo (人类已经无法阻止微博了) takes a detached view of the situation, perhaps like many young Chinese people on the internet:

I’m thinking, will North Korea make Kim Jong Il an exhibit like his father?

Christian Bale Visit to Human Rights Lawyer Causes Uproar

Posted December 20th, 2011 at 10:17 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

Christian Bale (克里斯蒂安·贝尔), the Hollywood star known for his roles as Batman and Empire of the Sun, set in China, was in China to promote his Chinese film, The Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) directed by Zhang Yimou (张艺谋). After the promotion ended, the star tried visiting one of China’s most famous human rights activists, Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) in Linfen, Shandong.

On Sina microblog and Baidu, the premier search engine in China, a search for the Batman star’s name turns up some curious results.

On Baidu, the first suggested searches to appear include “Christian Bale CNN,” “Christian Bale beaten up” and “Christian Bale Chen Guangchen.” If you clicked on any of these suggestions, the pages you are led to include Chinese translations of foreign news articles and a lot of bbs, or forum entries.

On Sina microblog, the suggested search terms for the actor involved his new film, The Flowers of War, but also the same references to  blind lawyer.

On the microblog, user Zhang Tianyi:

If you searched for #Bale Beaten# on microblog there are 314 results, including those by verified people and media people. I found the relevant reports from CNN, and it’s obvious that CNN used the word “pushing” which was translated into “beaten” in Chinese, they’re really unafraid of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Another user, Li Xiaohu, talked about disbelief:

I just discovered that the actor from The Flowers of War, Christian Bale, was beaten up when the went to see Chen in Linfen in Shandong [and posted about it], then all of a sudden a bunch of people sprang out and commented and messaged me to say it was all a lie, but it’s on the CNN website. If you don’t believe me then go see for yourself: here and a video here.

The media mogul Hung Huang wondered about the hype:

What’s happened to Christian Bale?

YicaiKen a normal user jumped on the bandwagon of disbelief:

Pictures of Bale being beaten is public // @FangShaobai: Is this really real??????

And DeanGu said:

I heard that the actor who plays Batman was punched when tried to see Chen Guangchen. The cadres of the CPC are indeed awesome.

Perhaps the Phoenix TV journalist Rose Luqiu Luwei summed up the best reaction:

Both Batman and that blind man saw the light in the dark. I will buy a ticket to see The Flowers of War purely because of Bale’s attention to individuals who have been unfairly treated. I hadn’t wanted to contribute to the box office takings.

Microblogs Gear Up for Nanjing Massacre Anniversary

Posted December 14th, 2011 at 5:28 pm (UTC+0)

Zhang Yimou’s (张艺谋) Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) starring Christian Bale, said to be the most expensive movie ever made in China, premiers on Friday in China.

Watch the trailer for Flowers of War

The film, based on a novel by Yan Geling (严歌苓), explores the 1937 Nanjing Massacre through the lives of 13 prostitutes who offer themselves to the Japanese soldiers instead of students.

Microblog users are reacting differently to the film’s portrayal of one of the biggest incidents in Chinese history, often used in nationalistic debates about China’s place in the world.

Zhang Ming (张鸣), a well-known academic and historian, said:

In China, faced with foreign enemies, men are useless, so it’s up to the women… Now we have the Flowers of War.

Han Song (韩松), a Xinhua editor and popular Science Fiction author, reacted to the film in a negative way:

The Nanjing massacre points to the time during the Second World War, when Japanese troops invaded China’s then capital Nanking, and for as long as long six weeks they killed, looted, raped, and committed other war crimes in the city as well as [its] suburbs. After 74 years, Zhang Yimou made Flowers of War, but critics have said that this isn’t a realistic film.

A montage of all the old survivors of the Nanjing Massacre

As part of Sina microblog’s efforts to mark the 74th anniversary of the massacres, five survivors in their eighties and nineties, were invited to open microblogs and talk about their experience.

One of them, Granny Zhao Zhenhua (赵振华奶奶), refers directly to Zhang Yimou’s film:

I have heard from my daughter that one of the stars of Flowers of War messaged me on [the] microblog. I feel very warm and very moved.

The 83-year old also acted as a consultant on Lu Chuan’s (陆川) film City of Life and Death or Nanjing! Nanjing! and reminded young people, especially actors, about the tragedy:
Not only did I see for myself the crimes committed by the Japanese devils, and also heard from people I knew or older girls from next door who had been harmed by the Japanese devils. So in the movie, when they hear that our John Rabe was leaving, how could they not feel upset? As soon as Rabe leaves, it would mean that more Chinese people will suffer. After hearing my stories, the young actors threw themselves into the acting, and no-one will laugh about it anymore.

Another survivor, Li Suyun (幸存者李素云) recalled:

It was so bad in Nanking at the time, because so many people died, every morning many of my neighbors would come come to bury bodies, many bodies. I also remember when they dug up the  Zhongsan Road they found skeletons under the underground.
Cheng Fubao had his grandson write:

My grandfather’s father was killed cruelly by the Japanese devils during the massacre by a shot through the heart…

Most of the survivors speak about the Nanjing massacre in a way that reflects deep pain and an overarching narrative that the “rape of Nanjing” was one of the most tragic episodes in recent Chinese history.

Gold Diggers Become Trending Topic

Posted December 8th, 2011 at 2:09 am (UTC+0)

The topic of marrying for money, especially for younger women is trending in China.

This viral Youtube video shows the nasty side of the debate. A woman shouts at her boyfriend in the subway:

Look at you, you are useless, why am I going to marry you? You don’t have money. Man without money is garbage.


In the press, online and in popular culture, the mistress (二奶) and the “third person” (小三), a gentler term meaning the lover, is getting greater and greater attention. The idea that a potential mistress will have an affair to get money, often from a man who is established and much older, features prominently within this ongoing discussion.

The Baidu Baike (Wiki-style) entry on the “third person forum” where wives and lovers go on the net to discuss their extra-marital problems, categorizes the recent phenomenon as this:

The appearance of the “third” is a kind of threat to love and marriage, and a challenge to the moral compass of contemporary people. Some couples have become enemies due to the “third” and some families have disbanded because of the “third.” Because of the appearance of the “third,” there have also been some criminal cases. Not only have “thirds” carry the tide against traditional values, but they have also continuously challenged the law, and affect the stability and harmony of society.

A mistress with her married boyfriend, from the popular TV series on the subject, Dwelling Narrowness (蜗居).

A thread on the “Alternative Love” (here meaning affairs) page of the Sina Lady Forum has garnered 32 pages of comments and over 15,000 views . It speaks of a younger woman in love with a married senior member of a partnering company. The moderator of the board,  ThePromiseof2014 said said in response:

I’ve seen so many “thirds” in this forum, some has lasted 7 years, some 3, some 10, some 15, and all their histories have been filled with bitter tears. Almost everyone have said, if they could start all over again, they wouldn’t have chosen this path, and they also say to the potential “third,” don’t go down this road, however without the experience they can’t understand. Is it only possible to feel the hurt by experiencing it?

The comment indicates it isn’t just a common problem,  but a problem with many facets.

Chen Xiwo is a novelist based in Hong Kong. In a controversial microblog post from June, he argued against the idea that it’s wrong to get involved with married people, because they might end up together. However, he acknowledges simply that mistresses are often in it for the money:

When you are trying to accept extra-marital person of the opposite sex, you have to realize that you must lose out on something. Of course, when the one who has accepted is lost, then the “third” who wants money is also lost. If you knew this was going to happen, and they got together anyway, then that is love. Why can’t we accept this kind of love?

A report from the Beijing Evening News (北京晚报) last month and re-posted on, a popular and liberal news portal, says schools have even set up for wives to defend against the “third person,” especially wives from rich families.

Along with other commenters, Cactusandlittlehedgehog expressed the notion that money and love is a pervading social problem:

What good can a school like this do to get rid of the “third person” problem? With too much money, people become stupid.

QQ has a microblog that is named: “Listen to the third person” and there is a semi-official website for “thirds” or lovers, currently blocked

Falling Property Prices Create Net Buzz

Posted December 6th, 2011 at 12:05 am (UTC+0)
1 comment

Construction work continues in a residential area in the outskirts of Beijing. (File Photo) (AP/Vincent Thian)

Through-the-roof housing prices (房价) is one of China’s hottest topics.

Recently, Ren Zhiqiang (任志强) a property developer (开放商) who is big user of Sina microblog (新浪微博), angered a lot of people by blogging “Is there any country in history that has managed to grow its economy stably after a property bust?”

As many property owners are in negative equity and some are protesting to property companies, the price for housing is still set to fall over the next few months. Some say is could continue for a few years.

On December 2, Caijing (财经), the influential financial magazine, microblogged the phenomenon:

December 3, 2011, in Wuhan, Hubei province, Vanke’s latest development begin its selling phase. The developer asked Guiyuan Buddhist Temple’s head monk to use special prayers to increase purchasing, attracting more citizens to come see the property. Except more people are praying that housing prices will fall.

Throughout the last few months, weibo has been alive with people commenting on falling prices. Xie Xiao (谢晓), the managing editor of Southern Entertainment Weekly, microblogged:

Housing prices have really fallen? I walked past an agent for real estate downstairs from my house, and saw that second hand housing is only a little over RMB20,000 per square meter, compared to its price at almost RMB30,000 six months ago, I felt like calling all my friends over to start purchasing!

Similarly, Shi Yonggang (师永刚) the editor-in-chief of Phoenix Weekly, microblogged:

My friend texted me to say that the real estate market in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, has completely collapsed, and prices have fallen across the scale. From the average price of RMB10,000 it has fallen to RMB3,000. So… pricing falling is akin to a mountain falling?

In order to explain this, a city planner, Liu Wei, said:

Local housing prices are not high because of the local governments. Never mind the housing prices, but local governments can’t even control their land prices. According to the current system, the land prices, especially the prices for real estate land, is decided by the market. If any local government dared to interfere with property prices, they will be punished severely. People who think that local governments are colluding with real estate developers, pushing the prices higher,  are just the fantasy of intellectuals and the public

As far back as June, when there were whispers that housing prices could fall, Southern Weekend (南方周末), the leading liberal magazine in the country, ran a snippet on their official microblog about how the banks won’t be able to handle a 50% fall in prices:

China Banking Regulatory Commission: “‘The banks will be able to handle it if housing prices fall 50%’ rebuffed by insiders in the banking industry, who said: “Don’t mention 50%, even if it drops to 20%, the banks won’t be able to handle it.”

A lot of people, some of them high profile, like to joke about housing prices in the context of social problems, such as mistresses. Jishisan, a science journalist, said:

Will the prices for Houxiandai City [a property development in Beijing] rise because of Guo Meimei (郭美美), who lives there? Or will the rent prices fall because of number of mistresses who will stop renting?

Perhaps Chen Huarui, the CEO of an investment company summed it up best:

Continued falling over three years isn’t realistic, but a 30% fall in prices is.

SARFT Bans TV Adverts During Dramas, Online Comedy Follows

Posted December 1st, 2011 at 12:58 am (UTC+0)

This is a news report from Dragon TV, a major Chinese television network. It’s been embedded onto Youku, China’s leading online portal.

This might be future for Chinese television, as SARFT (广电总局 State Administration of Radio Film and Television) announced on Monday that beginning in January, 2012, ads will be banned from the middle of TV dramas.

Beneath this TV report, Youku user “Dongtai Crazy,” said:
I only watch the ads, it’s annoying when a soap opera suddenly pops out of nowhere…
“GoldenFatboy” said:
I strongly support the suggestion that all regional channels launch an ‘advert channel’ and then put all adverts on this channel! And then ban all adverts from all the other channels!
“hgusfg” said:
Why not just make sure dramas in the future are half ads and half dramas, a win-win situation!
“Fivefish..” had a humorous yet perceptive comment:
I guess it the bosses at SARFT must have gotten peeved by the ads during TV dramas!
Also, users on Sina microblog are mocking the number of adverts that appear on TV. “Gu Qingsheng” (古清生) said:
But they didn’t ban soap operas being embedded into adverts
However, some reaction to the news was a bit more on the serious side. On the popular blog forum Tianya, “Ye Ge” had written in early 2010 how much he didn’t like adverts, something that is often cited and seems to be a genuine reflection across the country:
About a year ago, from 6pm to 10pm I watched the classic adaptation of Three Kingdoms (三国演义) and The Water Margin (水浒传). As I was watching the best parts, ads came out of nowhere, discussing its products at length, repeating itself, it felt like I had bitten on a burnt peanut in a plate of fresh ones. I waited patiently, or I stopped viewing, just in case I couldn’t wait for the end. In two years I’ve been busy and had no time to watch classic shows. Lately CCTV had a Spring Festival gift to us views: Journey to the West (西游记), so once again I stopped everything I was doing and sat in front of TV, but when it should have been an ad, there were none… until the whole thing was over and I had enjoyed a full episode, and said to my wife, “Look, there are no ads in Journey to the West.”
Mouseeatsacat on the longhoo forum saw the other perspective:
TV stations get their revenue from ads, banning ads from prime time TV is like taking away its lifeline? The State can’t just do whatever it wants!

“Leftover Women” Find Online Voice

Posted November 28th, 2011 at 10:40 pm (UTC+0)
2 comments is one forum used by Chinese women looking for men to date and marry.

In the west, the age of marriageability is far higher than in China. But in China, women who have reached their late 20s are considered “leftover.”

“Leftover women” (剩女) is an often negative term indicating more mature Chinese women who are no longer on the marriage market. In China, marriage is seen as an act of duty to honor parents, and those who are left unmarried can carry a huge burden.

The Baidu Baike entry on “leftover women,” from the popular search engine’s wiki-style entry, holds this common perception:

Leftover women always think they are excellent, and they have high goals for partners: They have to be good looking, talented, highly educated and a good person. [They are] often financially and geographically picky, and so that’s a narrow field to choose from.

Wang Chuan (王川) a man who manages the “snap a photo and rescue mature women” (随手拍解救大龄女青年) Sina microblog, which now has more than 90,000 followers.

The premise is to send a picture of yourself to the owner of the blog, and he will send our your basic information like age, occupation, city and hobbies to his many followers. It is then hoped that the “leftover woman” can pick from the best eligible men.

I caught up with the owner of the microblog, who told me how it all began.

“I simply started the blog after hearing about well-known sociology professor Yu Jianrong (于建嵘)’s microblog “Take a snap and rescue a begger kid” (随手拍照解救乞讨儿). I wanted to play on that meme. I took away one character, and instead I wanted ‘beautiful girl’ where ‘kid’ was, but that sounded silly so I used ‘mature women,’ because that way they would need rescuing. I didn’t expect so many followers when I first opened the account. I’m interested in social problems, and was looking for one when I encountered the leftover women problem,” he said.

Eden Zhao, 26, and a media professional, told me she considers herself a mature unmarried woman. When I asked if she felt pressure because of her age, she said, “Although I don’t mind not being in a long-term relationship, I do feel the pressure from my family, especially my mum, who asks me [about dates] every time … she calls me, like whether I’ve dated some guys, who is the guy, what did we talked about during the date, etc.”

As for the label of the leftover woman, which is often considered negative, I wondered what she thought about having it applied to her.

“I’m not strongly resistant to the word itself, but I don’t like the biased feeling people usually hold toward you when when they refer you as a leftover woman. In fact, I believe some woman are “left” simply because they are brilliant enough to overshadow [potential partners]. Some of my female friends are pretty looking, working hard as well as smart, but being excellent does not necessarily mean you can secure a lover,” she said.

The feeling of bias is not uncommon, but the Chinese Internet is full of well visited pages for the so-called “leftover women”.

For example, the popular PCLady forum gives tips to tame your man and a diagnosis for your personality. Other forums dedicated to older, unmarried women include the Baidu Postbar and

Obviously, many of these women are looking. But in a climate where many people don’t seem to believe that marriage can last, and where people judge you if you are divorced, it seems better for a lot of women not to take a chance.

Speculation Rises on Social Fatigue for Sina Microblog

Posted November 22nd, 2011 at 11:39 pm (UTC+0)

Sina (新浪), one of China’s largest Internet companies, reported revenues of $130.3 million for the third quarter of 2011, up from $108.2 million last year.

But some Chinese media outlets have reported that, despite these figures, Chinese users of the popular microblog service could be getting fatigued.

At Netease, the website of another internet giant, Guo Jianlong (郭建龙), a tech writer whose Netease microblog has over 20,000 followers, speculated the most used microblog might be declining soon:

Anything that is being discussed all over the place is probably reaching its “bubble” stage. And this conclusion is very possibly applicable to Sina microblog.

When Charles Chao [CEO of Sina] published his financial report it announced that registered users for microblog had reached 250 million. But independent figures do not comply, it has in fact shown that Sina microblog has reached a period of recession, and has for six months lost its momentum.

However, we can’t judge if this recession period is only temporary or if it will last.

As you can see from the graphs by the web analytics firm Alexa, daily pageviews and time on site have been declining for a couple of weeks.

On Guo Jianlong’s Netease microblog, he defends his use of Alexa as a way of comparing data:

jlguo : Alexa is not a completely accurate tool. But I don’t really think  the most important thing is the exact figures, but only their comparable situation.In six months, the traffic split between fixed and mobile [users] should not show any significant change . As long as this change isn’t large, then Alexa can reflect the trend. Of course, the bubble of Sina microblog is still to do with its mode for profit, which will still need to be supported through ads.

Finally, commentators have pointed to the sudden increase in figures for all products related to Sina: its blogging platform, so popular in 2005, was driven largely by celebrities,  just as the microblog is today. The social networking and chat functions for its blog died. Will the Sina microblog will be a fully functioning entity in the future?

Like all the other Sina products, it will have to survive by making itself the center of the media and by extension, advertisements.

Are you getting tired of social media and microblogging, or is this just a story of a blogger on a competing network spreading bad news about a rival? Let us know in the comments.

Gansu School Bus Crash Sparks Anger

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 1:28 am (UTC+0)
1 comment

Chinese police stand beside a damaged school bus after it collided with a red truck on a road in the Yulinzi township in northwest China's Gansu province on November 16, 2011. (AFP)

Since a small bus carrying 62 children crashed into a coal truck in Gansu province (甘肃), killing 18 children and 2 adults last week, Chinese microblogs have erupted with tens of thousands of angry posts.

The bus was only a nine-seater and was severely overcrowded at the time of the accident (甘肃校车事故). The Xinhua news agency says authorities have blamed the overcrowding for causing the accident.

Since the tragedy hit, China’s netizens have started discussing the country’s priorities, especially how much is spent on the education industry.

The 21st Century Business Herald (21世纪经济报道), a State-run newspaper, published lists illustrating the costs of cars used by the employees of government bodies each year next to a list of accidents similar to the one in Gansu over the last two years.

Jiexiu city, Shanxi province (山西省介休市): 7 dead, Jingzhou city, Hubei province (湖北省荆州市): 2 dead, Sanya city, Hainan province (海南省三亚市): 1 dead, Xinjiang Autonomous Region (新疆维吾尔自治区): 3 dead, Mentougou in Beijing (北京门头沟地区): 1 dead, Jiaxing city, Zhejiang province (浙江嘉兴市秀洲区): 15 injured etc…

Administration of Taxation (国家税务总局): RMB 148623.60 or $23392, Administration of Customs (海关总署):  RMB45026.17 or $7087, Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (质量监督检验检疫总局), the Banking Regulatory Commission (中国银监会) etc…

The same newspaper also did a bar graph showing government Financial Income (blue), Income in Taxes (purple), Payout for Finance (pale yellow) and Payout for Education (pale blue).

The pie chart next it shows the comparison between total GDP and amount spent on education. Click on the chart to see the full sized version on the  21st Century Business Herald‘s site.

A gallery from the funeral of the children is available from

Each parent will be compensated RMB400,000, but only after they’ve buried their child.  But this has also sparked online anger as many  have wondered if it is part of a cover-up.

Lawyer Chu Yunnan wrote on QQ’s very popular microblog:

“What use it that we have such a high GDP when we don’t have the basic benefits, causing such a tragic car crash.”

On Phoenix net, a popular online news forum, commentator Wei Yingjie wrote:

I once saw a internet video where a car that was meant for 6 people fitted 66 kids. Later the traffic police helped the kids out from what looked like a cage. As they disembarked one by one, I felt pained and angry. This isn’t because of the education system’s lust for gain, and also not because of the lack of supervision. In reality it is caused for the coldness of everyone.



China Wangre (中国网热) is a wide-ranging look at the latest digital news and trends from the world’s largest online population.

Beijing native Alice Liu follows what’s hot and how people in China are using mobile devices, traditional websites and social media to connect with each other and the rest of the world.

Fluent in Mandarin and English, Alice has written on technology issues in China for publications such as “The Guardian”, “The Huffington Post” and “”.

Wangre means “Net Hot” in Mandarin and was picked to convey our commitment to bring the latest developments from digital China.