Huaxi Village Reaches for the Sky

Posted October 18th, 2011 at 7:19 pm (UTC+0)

The newly inaugurated skyscraper tower of Huaxi village is seen in Huaxi village, Jiangsu province, October 7, 2011.

The newly inaugurated skyscraper tower of Huaxi village is seen in Huaxi village, Jiangsu province, October 7, 2011.

The opening of a new skyscraper might not be news in most big cities. But as you can see from the picture above, the Longxi International Hotel towers over the small community of Huaxi in China’s eastern Zhejiang province.

Huaxi Village (华西村), which claims to be China’s richest village, unveiled  the 74-story, 328 meter tall skyscraper to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary.

In addition to the jutting building with a sphere on top, the village has also built replicas of the Great Wall, the White House and other world famous landmarks in hopes of drawing tourists.

Chinese drummers entertaining guests at the opening ceremony of the Longxi International Hotel
This photo taken on October 8, 2011 shows Chinese drummers entertaining guests at the opening ceremony of the Longxi International Hotel in Huaxi, China

The Chinese internet has been buzzing about the wealth exhibited by the village and its leaders.

A blog post on Sina written by Sha Yuanshen (沙元森) has been read over 100,000 times and garnered more than 300 comments. It points out the incongruities between the village’s peasants and the rest in China:

“Right now, Huaxi Village in Jiangsu province is celebrating its 50th birthday as “First Village in China.”  The most shocking thing was that inside in the hotel there is a one ton cow statue made of pure gold valued 300 million yuan ($47m). The master spending of the Huaxi village caused amazement, as well as questioning, as some people criticized Huaxi village for “showing off their richness,”  but the leader of the Huaxi village didn’t care about these comment, and also expressed that “What we are showing off is that Chinese peasants are getting richer.”

On, a very popular website used mostly by tech savvy youth, a post by AceOfHearts, LazyCat_Diu (红桃A, 懒猫_丢) with the title of “Women, if you want to marry, marry someone from Huaxi Village” (女人们,要嫁就嫁华西村) generated over two dozen comments.

“You will be happy your whole life, the next generation will be enjoy a happy and fortunate life.”

One user, ChopMyHeart (斩心), replied:

“When I went to Huaxi Village four years ago, I heard the villagers there saying powerfully … their daughters never marry outside, but wait for the men to marry in…”

So what are your thoughts on the new tower in Huaxi? Is it a good move or does it look out of place?  Let me know in the comments.

Xinhai Revolution: Serious, And Not So Serious

Posted October 13th, 2011 at 10:14 pm (UTC+0)
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A view of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution

A view of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution with a portrait of revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 9, 2011. (AFP / POOL / Minoru Iwasaki)

October 10 marked an important anniversary for China.  It had been 100 years since the last dynasty in China was overthrown and replaced by a Republic.

The Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命), beginning with the Wuchang Uprising (武昌起义) of October 10, 1911, was pivotal for the Chinese; the following year, Sun Yat-sen (孙中山) founded a new government.

Netizens have been buzzing about the revolution for days, bringing the event’s significance forward to the present day.

The meaning of the anniversary to modern day China was discussed by many. grace_xiang, a user of Sina weibo, said:

“The thing to remember about the Xinhai Revolution is not that it was a revolution but how it wasn’t one. Which means that even though it began with guns, it ended with paper and pens. Even though the Qing definitely didn’t want to, they still peacefully transferred their power — not according to Chinese conventions, but to the world’s convention. This was the magnificent move that opened up a century and an era. But the shame is that in the couple of thousand years of Chinese history, there was only this one flash of inspiration, but in the end no-one noticed it, and in the end it returned again to being ruled by wild tyrants like it always had been.”

Many replies to grace_xiang were supportive. Media personality Laughing Shu said:

“If this angle is unique in this day and age, it shows how low the standard is for acquiring knowledge and for thinking. And how we’ve wasted the last hundred years…”

State media journalist and science fiction writer Han Song had a very different take in his own post on weibo:

“Lately I have been reading many articles remembering the Xinhai Revolution, I feel that even though everyone is attaching significance, in reality there is only one conclusion to all of this: decide with power, decide with your fist. Talking about a republic and a democracy: it’s useless. That’s why Sun Yat-sen had to put up with so much. It was only afterward that people understood this, and they all raced to implement what they learned. This has been the rule for development in China for the last 100 years.

However, not everyone struck such a serious tone. Many took a more lighthearted approach to the anniversary.

“Acting Cute” (卖萌) has been a hot Internet meme this year. The characters for “Acting Cute” also decompose to read “10th day of the 10th month”. So on this anniversary, netizens were encouraged to send in photos to Sina weibo of them “acting cute.”

Occupy Wall Street Creates a Buzz in China

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 7:37 pm (UTC+0)

Protesters wearing masks take to the streets to appeal for people to join them for an upcoming protest in Hong Kong

Protesters wearing masks take to the streets to appeal for people to join them for an upcoming protest in Hong Kong October 9, 2011. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

The movement that has gripped America’s financial district, protests made to the financial establishment in the West, has also taken hold on the Chinese Internet.

Occupy Wall Street (占领华尔街) were protests that began in New York’s banking center on September 17, which then spread to other cities around the United States. .

China’s own intellectual circles began to buzz about the protests in United States and beyond in late September.

On Utopia (乌有邦), a leftist nationalist forum, an entire post appeared under the headline “In Support of the Great Wall Street Revolution.”

There was soon an English translation, most notably on the China Study Group, an English website dedicated to leftist China. The translated letter of solidarity, posted on October 1, was signed by over 50 intellectuals and activists in China.

The activists range from academics at universities to ex-Red Guards, and from publishing house editors to organizers of Red Song groups.

In part the petition read: “The eruption of the “Wall Street Revolution” is a historical indicator that the popular democratic revolution that will soon sweep the world is set to begin. It is an especially significant and important event for this movement. Before this most recent action, street protests had virtually been exclusively used as a tool by US elite groups to subvert other countries.”


Apart from the petition, Utopia also uploaded pictures from an Occupy Wall Street inspired street protest in Zhengzhou, the seat of Henan Province.

On Sina Weibo, Occupy Wall Street had become a trending topic by Monday.

Wang Xiaoshan, a journalist and activist with more than 333,000 followers on Weibo, tends to focus his posts on social injustices. His comment on the event was sarcastic, but elated at the buzz it was creating on the Internet.

“Occupy Wall Street is great. I was out for a couple days and didn’t notice it, or thought it was a big deal. But now I am happy to the extreme. Ha ha. As someone who hates everything to do with government, I only hope that no lives will be lost. I don’t care about anything else. The more chaotic this gets the happier I am. It’s fun seeing all you Internet trolls so riled up.”


Peking University professor and digital media expert Hu Yong has been re-posting pictures from the Occupy Wall Street since the movement began. Examples here and here .

Fans Erect Shrine to Steve Jobs Outside Apple Store in Beijing

Posted October 8th, 2011 at 12:09 am (UTC+0)
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Fans of Steve Jobs' pay their respects outside the Apple store in Beijing.

Fans of Steve Jobs' pay their respects outside the Apple store in Beijing. (VOA - A. Xin Liu)

There is a new shrine in Beijing to Steve Jobs (史蒂夫·乔布斯), the co-founder of Apple Computer who died this week.

At the capital’s only Apple store (苹果店) in located in Sanlitun (三里屯) in eastern Beijing, fans of Jobs chose to put down pieces of fresh apples as well as bouquets of flowers. White cards with messages written in English were addressed to “Steve.” Chinese tech whizzkids, Apple fanboys and middle class users of Apple products were here to mourn their loss.

Luna, a bespectacled girl of college age, told me she won’t stop buying Jobs’ products just because the personality behind the company had vanished.   “The creativity of the products doesn’t just come from him,” she said.

Justin, a native of Australia teaching English at China Agricultural University, said that he was inspired by Jobs’ now infamous 2005 Stanford Commencement speech.

The rousing speech, which detailed work ethics based on living every day as your last, would find a new audience in Beijing, as Justin used the text in a classroom English assessment.

In more ways than one, Apple is fast becoming a status item for youth.

Wang Di, a musician

Wang Di, a musician, and his companion, are seen inside the Apple store after laying down a bouquet. (VOA - A. Xin Liu)

For many Chinese, the Mac has been a crucial part of their working lives. Wang Di, a musician, told me that he would choose Apple again and again.  “I do not use popular Apple products such as iPhone, iPad and iTouch. But I’ve used Apple computers to work since 1993, including the Mac LC-II, 9600, G3 and G4.”

For Wang, the Macintosh was Jobs’ greatest invention. “Now I have three Apple computers. For almost 20 years, I composed, recorded and arranged music using Apple computers. The computer was so expensive back then but it was the only product that made audio recording.”

However, some of the reaction to the death of Jobs was mixed online.

On the CS gaming forum Sorpack user “Hu_Li_Bee” said

“I don’t even have a phone” in response to a posting about Jobs’ death. “我连手机都没有”

The Sina weibo user “Shakespeare’s Grief” feels that without Jobs, there is no hope for the future of Apple:

“In order to remember Jobs, I’ve decided to buy iPhone 4S, but this will be the last time that I buy the iPhone, a person without his soul is a corpse walking, and a product without its soul is like a tree that has been reduced to dead ash.” 为纪念Jobs,我决定买iPhone4S了,这是我最后一次购买iPhone,没有了灵魂的人如行尸走肉,没有灵魂的产品如槁木死灰。

On PCHome, one of the largest Chinese forums dedicated to computers and electronics, users expressed that they were using Nokia phones after a post by 毛熏肉㊣bacon_mao, who dislikes Jobs and Apple.

“This is great; Apple will rot within three years. Jobs, letting you die like this is a pity; it’s too good for you, because your products have resulted in pollution… in China [near the factories]. I really hope that their pain will be added onto you.”  刚才到apple官网看了下,真的  很好,苹果3年内就会烂掉。乔布斯,这样让你死,太可惜了,太便宜你了,因你的产品制造污染… 的人民,真心希望他们的痛苦都叠加在你身上

But the manufacturing cost of producing the iPhone in China were not on the minds of those I spoke to at the Apple store in Beijing. There, the outpouring of grief went on for an American visionary who popularized personal computers.

Inside the store, Meng Fanli, 40, told me, “Most of electronic products we bought are from Apple Inc., from the iPhone, the iPad, the iTouch to computers and laptops. Both my daughter and I use the iPhone 4.”

And Apple’s iPhone 4 continues to sell like hotcakes, as long lines snaked their way around the shop.

Workers at the Apple store in Beijing wheel out new iPhone 4s

Workers at the Apple store in Beijing wheel out new iPhone 4s past a shrine to Steve Jobs. (VOA - A. Xin Liu)

China Space Launch Sparks Nationalistic Speculations

Posted October 6th, 2011 at 3:50 pm (UTC+0)
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A rocket loaded with China's unmanned space module Tiangong-1 lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

The Long March II-F rocket loaded with China's unmanned space module Tiangong-1 lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, September 29, 2011. (Reuters)

China’s recent launch of a habitable space laboratory module has sparked a new round of speculations on forums dedicated to China’s military strength.

Tiangong-1 (天宫一号), which means Heaven Palace-1, was launched in China on September 29 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It is China’s first space lab module that has the capacity to carry humans.

The first “taikonaut” (中国宇航员) (Chinese astronaut) in orbit was in 2003, and the Yinghuo-1 (萤火一号), a Russian-Chinese robot probe to Mars, will be launched in 2013. Tiangong-1 is an ongoing effort in China’s space ambitions and the first step to building a successful space station.

Online, nationalistic forums dedicated to analyzing China’s military strength have been eagerly speculating on the launch’s significance. Those same forums were focused in July maiden voyage of on China’s first ever aircraft carrier., founded in 2008 by a nationalistic student. The website, now renamed, is a platform for nationalistic youth.

After the launch, huangzhongsong said:

“I support the development of manned spacecrafts. It’s not wasting resources. What is the waste of manpower and resources? It’s when the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan!”


Commenter qushichen wrote:

“China already missed out on the oceans. It cannot for anything miss out on the skies!” Hooray for Chinese scientists!

中国已经错过了海洋时代  决不能再错过太空 中国的科学家加油!!

Commenters see both the US and Russia as China’s competitors. User “tylz” wrote about why the States are perceived to be number one on the Yingshang government website’s forum:

“The States are running wild in the world, and openly showed contempt for international law. What are they relying on? The all-conquering, powerful weapons, or more specifically, 11 Carrier Battle Groups, the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world, precise guided weapons, and the most advanced stealth fighters…“


Users on the military forum of the most popular web portal, Sina, also challenged the United States, “BrightTimesXi’an” said:

“The technology of this Tiangong-1 is more advanced than America’s space technology when they were doing this.”


On the popular “Flying Military” forum, user “zhenqianga” attracted two pages of comments when he outlined the benefits of developing a space program for a developing nation. However, “zhenqianga” was quick to point out that developing a space program had more nationalistic uses:

“Our nation has successfully launched the Tiangong preliminary space lab probe.  There are huge numbers of Taiwan and Japanese internet devils trying to create public opinion by saying there are still many poor children that need to be fed. So money shouldn’t be spent on Tiangong or Shenzhou [spacecraft], right?  This is an effort to misdirect public opinion.”

    一时间有大批台日网鬼和民运造舆论说中国还有很多穷孩子需要钱的地方很多。不应把有限的钱花在天宫神舟上? 这是在有意误导中国舆论。

Chinese Social Network Buys Video Site

Posted October 3rd, 2011 at 3:49 pm (UTC+0)
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One of China’s biggest social networking sites has purchased a declining video sharing site, sparking some negative feedback.

Renren, valued at $5 billion earlier this year, spent only $80 million for, one of the country’s larger video sharing sites. Founded in 2005, Renren is popular with university students and was formerly named the “On-Campus Network” or Xiaonei. 

The video site is also popular with young people but has often upset government regulars by not clearing its rights violations. Its rivals and have pulled ahead.

Financial analysts say the purchase was a bargain for Renren because of is only losing a small amount of money and brings a large base of user generated content.

Renren CEO Joseph Chen was optimistic about the buyout, saying in a statement the deal will “further meet user needs of recording and sharing their lives through video format” on his social network

However, initial reaction to the deal by China’s netziens appears somewaht negative.
For example, Sina weibo user “YoungmanofXimentou” said

“Anyone who has used Youtube will know: video sharing sites can become social networks, and it’s not just a channel for buying rights to videos. Renren’s move to buy 56 is still part of the development model for video networks, but it’s just unclear if there will be support in terms of original material on Renren.”

A commentator on the influential finance portal with business blogging, Hexun, “HexunTroy” said

“Renren purchased 56 because it wants to be a social network, or because it wants to share videos? Hulu on Facebook is the coming together two winners; they help each other. … 56 doesn’t have any way of pooling funds so I understand if they want to sell but if Renren does not want to collaborate with Youku and others it still shouldn’t get video on the cheap like this”

Most users see that is losing money, so a sell is inevitable. This seems more urgent than the fact that Renren has chosen to acquire the network.

On the Baidu forum dedicated to some users were wondering if the sale to Renren will mean tighter control of content on 56.

User EveningSilhouette said:

“No wonder that I have been unable to upload videos these past couple of days. Of course new movies contain rights violations, but I can’t even upload old movies from decades ago. I cry, if this carries on then 56 will be behind Youku, where will I upload video to from now on?”

A Controversial End for Super Girl in China

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 3:49 pm (UTC+0)
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Fans of Chinese singer Li Yu-chun, Super Girl's Voice 2005 winner

Fans of Chinese singer Li Yu-chun, Super Girl's Voice 2005 winner, show their support during an event in Hong Kong, Dec. 24, 2005, file photo. (AP)

One of the most popular TV programs in China has been cancelled, again. The removal of Super Girl (快乐女声) from the airwaves has caused a stir on Chinese microbloging sites.

The show was an American Idol type TV program started in China in 2004 by state TV in southern Hunan province.

After a three year suspension, it was re-launched in 2009 as “Happy Girl” in Chinese (even though it was still called Super Girl in English). But last month (September, 2011), the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) ordered the show to stop broadcasting.

The reasons for the cancellation are varied, depending on who you ask. The official reason is the show was too long.  But many commenters are pointing to the show’s use of an audience text voting system for the contestants and what some Chinese officials have called the “vulgar” use of young women singing pop songs.

A clip from the final broadcast:

A sample of the online reaction to the show’s cancellation.  

Sina weibo user Dajiabai longmenzhen said: “The reasoning of the management behind the stopping “Happy Girl” include: 1. You must listen to us, and comply with our regulations (whether it’s reasonable or not), otherwise the consequences will be severe; 2. Whatever you do, make sure your program isn’t the best, just average, otherwise others will be unhappy, affecting social stability and harmony.”

快女停播背 后隐含的管理思路包括:1.一定要听我的,服从管理规定(不管是否合理),否则后果很严重;2.千万不要做到最好,做得一般优秀就成了,否则别人会不舒 服,影响社会稳定和谐;

Baidu’s Super Girl postbar user qq920966254 said: “Stupid idiots, stop broadcasting Super Girl for one year, why not get the person who ordered it to stop broadcasting to go plow fields for a year! If we don’t have “Happy Girl” and “Happy Boy” I’d be bored to death during the summer. It has seriously overrun its time slot, but you can broadcast the show earlier!”


Sina weibo user Xiaoxiaolu said: “Happy Girl” is going to stop broadcasting. I’ve seen many netizens’ comments saying that it should have stopped a long time ago; if this kind of contest can be broadcasted, then Adult Videos should be broadcasted as well. What is a reality show competition? It’s just a shortcut to realizing the vanity of people who are greedy and lazy: crappy programs are teaching the audience the wrong lessions.”


Sina weibo user Limited Edition – Zhan said: “Happy Girl will stop broadcasting, yeah!”


Xinhua, China’s state news network, reports a show that “promotes moral ethics, public safety and provide practical information for housework” would be replacing Super Girl.

Meng Jing, a popular entertainment reporter associated with Sanlian Life Weekly (三联生活周刊), a current affairs and culture magazine, spoke to me online about the program being censored by SARFT. “Super Girl was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of Hunan TV’s entertainment programming. But Hunan TV had their own problems as well,” she said.

I talked with Adele Huang, an editor at Hunan TV, about the quality of the show. When asked if the show had gotten weaker since 2005, she said “It really did get worse. It’s hard to talk about the two periods in the same breath.”

In conservative circles, Super Girl contestants were still viewed as source of moral corruption for youth. The lives and deeds of Super Girl contestants have been chronicled by Chinese netizens, who are not always supportive.

In one example, bikini photos of 2005 contestant Chen Yi (陈怡) were spread online after she tried to break into the entertainment industry in Japan.

The most popular winner of all time, Li Yuchun (李宇春) started an androgynous, or sexually neutral, haircut fad for girls and became a lesbian sex symbol. This was another aspect of the show’s supposedly “corrupting” influence.

Similarly, plastic surgery scandals meant that SARFT was eager for Hunan TV to give themselves their own facelift.

Wang Bei (王贝) was a contestant on Super Girl in 2004. News emerged in 2011 that she died while undergoing cosmetic surgery to help her enter the entertainment industry. Her death shocked the nation and renewed not just the debate on cosmetic surgery, but also on the nature of Super Girls.

Controversy has plagued other popular Chinese TV programs like Jiangsu TV’s dating show If You Are The One (非诚勿扰) where the appearance of a model named Ma Nuo sparked an online as well as real campaign against “money worshipping girls.”

Meng Jing blames Hunan TV and the industry around Super Girl. “They can’t digest all the people who are involved in it. It’s an awkward competition. Afterward, the contestants have very hard lives. In 2007, our magazine concluded that only five contestants ended up having commercial value in the long run,” she said.

She pointed to Yi Hui (易慧), who was booked for commercial appearances after she came in eighth in 2005. Meng Jing said the young woman went from earning 50,000 yuan per performance to less than 500 yuan per show.

Many younger Chinese TV viewers now prefer to watch Qinghai TV’s Blossoming Flowers (花儿朵朵), and Liaoning TV’s Chinese X Factor (激情唱响), which are both new programs.

Meng Jing told me “The life cycle of a singing show with contestants in China is only five years at most.” It’s no surprise that people are willing to switch over their allegiances so quickly. With the show making a loss in both advertising and audience numbers, and with a top to bottom official system that wanted to “cleanse” its entertainment programs, there was nowhere to go but to close up shop.



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.