Both The Story of Ah Q and Forrest Gump are representative of the zeitgeist at the time of their publication. In this episode, I go through the similarities and differences between the story of Ah Q and Forrest Gump. Enjoy!
Last week we talked about some of the Chinese customs of gift giving and some of the etiquette at the table. Now that we’re talking about the table, how can we not talk about food? There are all kinds of food in Chinese food: snacks, southern food, northern food, traditional food and dark food. The beauty of food is not only in the colour and aroma of the food, but also in the moment of joy and admiration, the emotions, the memories, the healing. So we could probably talk about Chinese food for a thousand and one nights. Where do we start? Well, since it’s New Year again, let’s start with dumplings.
What are dumplings? Everyone should know what dumplings are. It’s a dumpling made from a dough skin, wrapped in a variety of fillings and boiled in water. When they are cooked, they are ready to eat. It sounds very simple but, let me tell you, it is only after you have experienced it that you can understand the unique skill and art of making it. The process of making dumplings must not be underestimated.
How do you make the pastry? It is usually made by mixing cold water and flour together, kneading it into a large rough dough, covering it with a life-saving damp saran wrap or towel and leaving it for an hour or so. After an hour, take it out and cut it with a knife or by hand into small dough balls, which are then rolled out with a rolling pin. Make sure it’s thin but not too thin. If it is too thin, it will break easily during cooking. Once the crust is ready, you can wrap the filling in it. I personally prefer the leek filling, but there are many different kinds of fillings, from meat to vegetarian, sweet to savoury. Once they are all wrapped, you can cook them in water. Once cooked, they are ready to eat.
The dumplings are characterised by their thin skin, tender filling, delicious taste and unique shape. You will never tire of eating them.
The history of dumplings Dumplings are a traditional Chinese food, originally called “Jiao Er”, and were first invented by Zhang Zhong Jing, the sage of medicine, during the Eastern Han Dynasty, more than 1,800 years ago.
As the saying goes, “When it’s cold, eat dumplings for the New Year”. I remember when I was a child, every New Year’s Eve, the more familiar relatives of my family would come to our house for dinner. We would watch the Spring Festival Gala, play mahjong, chat and so on. Then around 9pm or 10pm, my grandmother or grandma would lead us in making dumplings and we would be busy. The dumplings would be ready by midnight and the countdown would be on: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! Then we all sat down and ate dumplings. We hope that the new year will be a happy one for everyone, like the dumplings, and that the family will be reunited. How did this custom come about?
According to the literature, the custom of eating dumplings during the Chinese New Year was already present during the Ming Dynasty and became very widespread during the Qing Dynasty. In ancient China, each day was divided into twelve periods, and each day began with the hour of the son, which is equivalent to the time between 23:00 and 1:00 at midnight today, and at the end of the year, on New Year’s Eve, it was not just the change of the old and the new, but the change of the old and the new, which the Chinese call “jiaozi The Chinese call it “jiaozi”.
The Chinese are very conscious of boundaries, especially the boundary between the old and the new, and it is at this time that rituals are performed to pray for good fortune in the coming year. This is why the northern Chinese have slowly developed the custom of eating dumplings on the first day of the Lunar New Year, during the Spring Festival. For the Chinese, who cherish family ties, New Year’s Eve is a time when the snow falls silently outside the window, the light inside the house is warm and the pot is steaming. All thoughts and wishes are wrapped into the thin skin of the dumpling! The more the water boils over the red fire, the more delicious the dumplings become, accompanied by the firecrackers to welcome the new year.
Who knew that there was such a rich culture behind the delicious dumplings? This year’s Chinese New Year will fall on 25 January, so I hope you can prepare for making dumplings in advance.
Well, that’s it for today. We’ll see you next week.
To give you some dumpling-related sayings: Out dumpling in door dumpling opening – revealing the filling A blind man eats dumplings – he knows what he’s doing A dumb man eats dumplings – he knows what’s in his stomach Dumplings in a teapot – you have the goods in your belly A dumpling in a teapot – you can’t pour it out
Double Eleven has just passed. For those who don’t know, Double Eleven is November 11, also known as the Double Eleven Shopping Spree.
There are so many names for this one day of the year. Where do we start. Well, let’s start with the Guanbang Festival. 11 November, when you look at the numbers, looks like four smooth sticks. The Chinese word for “bare stick” means single. Thus, November 11 becomes Singles’ Day, the Day of the Bachelor. In fact, the origins of Kwan-Bat Day have always been a mystery, and there are various theories. Among the many theories, it is a widely accepted view that the festival originated from the campus culture of Nanjing University. This was probably in 1993. There were similar events like this in different areas at the time, but it seems to have been more active at Nanjing University, and through group activities and media dissemination, Double Eleven became popular in the community.
Speaking of singles, I think of a question that was popular years ago. It was: “Which of the 10 levels of loneliness are you in? At the time, someone concluded that it was just loneliness, some of the most representative events. The first level is a little bit lonely but not particularly lonely, and the tenth level is a super lonely thing. So let me tell you about these ten levels, and let’s see where you are, or which level you think is the loneliest. As these things are all quite competent, don’t take them too seriously, just listen to them, think about them, read them, have some fun. I’ll start by saying that it’s a hierarchy.
Level 1: Going to the supermarket alone Level 2: One goes to a fast food restaurant Level 3: Going to a cafe alone Level 4: Going to the movies alone Level 5: Eating hotpot alone Level 6: Going to KTV alone Level 7: Going to see the sea alone Level 8: Going to an amusement park alone Level 9: Moving house alone Level 10: Going to an operation alone I’ll share my opinion briefly, I can’t just let people think while I’m not doing anything here, right?
Level 1: Going to the supermarket alone This is a bit of super enjoyment for me. I love going to the supermarket alone. I don’t really like to go with other people. Usually if I go with friends or family, I do, which is, once I get in the supermarket, I go my separate way. I’ll let them do their shopping and then I’ll run off and do my own shopping. I’ll finish my shopping, check out and then wait for them at the door. So I don’t think it’s a characteristic of being alone, I guess.
Level 2: Going to a fast food restaurant by myself Going to a fast food restaurant, I can live with that. But, in general, I don’t like to go to any place where I eat alone, I feel quite lonely.
Level 3: Going to a cafe alone If I want to go to a cafe to do something, such as study, deal with something, or wait for someone, I can do that. But I don’t go to a café to drink coffee alone. This is the same reason why I don’t want to go to dinner alone.
Level 4: Going to the movies alone In previous years, I would not have gone to the cinema alone. I think at my age now, I can live with that, but I probably wouldn’t want to go too much either. I think cinema is also a group activity. It must be an activity for more than two people. If I were alone, I wouldn’t want to go to the cinema.
Level 5: Eating hotpot alone Why? I can’t really do this one. I think hotpot is something that is more fun the more people you have. I don’t think this will work, I can’t accept this.
Level 6: Going to KTV alone KTV is not in my interest in the first place. I’m a terrible singer and I don’t go to KTV if I have friends who ask me out, so naturally I won’t go alone.
Level 7: Going to see the sea alone I’ve been to this one. I was on a trip to Malaysia. Of course, when you go to Malaysia, you have to go to the beach. It was the time of sunset, and wow, the colour of the sky and the blue sea, it was super romantic and beautiful. I went alone, and there was no one to share the moment with. After I took the photos, I felt, for a moment, that I was so alone. I was so touched that I swore I would never go to such a romantic place alone again.
Level 8: Going to an amusement park alone It’s the same as KTV, I…if I don’t want to go with my friends, why should I go alone?
Level 9: Moving alone I’ve done this one a lot of times. I’ve moved many times by myself and I think it’s okay, I’m just a bit tired, but I think it’s normal, I’m not alone.
Level 10: Going to surgery alone I’ve been lucky enough not to have had surgery, but if I had to go to surgery alone, yes, that would be perfectly fine.
Okay, that seems a bit too thorough an analysis. Let’s move on.
After Double Eleven, it is also the Double Eleven Shopping Carnival. Why is it a shopping carnival? This first originated on Taobao (now called Tmall), a shopping site owned by China’s Alibaba. The first time they held a “Taobao Mall Sale Day” was on 11 November 2009, and every year since then, they have held an event like this on 11 November. Because it was so effective and profitable, of course, it had to be continued.
In April 2008, due to the project’s slow initial development, the original head of Taobao.com left, leaving only about 20 people on the team below. 2009, after then Taobao CFO Zhang Yong took over Taobao Mall, Zhang Yong and his team suggested that a large discount sale could be held in the autumn, modelled on the big Thanksgiving Day sale in the US, to “The goal of the sale was to “make consumers remember Taobao Mall through an activity or an event”, and the sale was finally timed to coincide with the Double Eleven on November 11. “The reason is that November is the autumn and winter season, people need to pick up extra things, while November is in between China’s Golden Week and Christmas, there is no big consumer festivals, the use of Double Eleven in the students, white-collar class appeal, open the young online shopping groups The promotion is free of charge. Despite the fact that the promotion did not charge any fees, many brands eventually declined the invitation, and after the release of the event poster, more than 30 merchants were scheduled to participate in the event, but some brands withdrew one after another, and finally only 27 merchants participated in the Double 11 event, including Li Ning, Lenovo and Philips. In November, which is considered by the industry to be the traditional slow sales season, Taobao Mall’s turnover exceeded 52 million yuan in one fell swoop, 10 times the daily turnover at the time.
It was that way in 2009, are you curious about the Double Eleven revenue in 2020? There’s an advantage to recording late, otherwise you wouldn’t know how amazing this year’s transaction value is. This year’s Double Eleven turnover was 498.2 billion bucks. Scary, right. I think it’s pretty scary. That’s a lot of money, for goodness sake. Finally, it’s interesting to note that in 2013, some Chinese courier companies rushed in more than 100 planes to handle the shipping of Tmall orders during the Double Eleven period. According to Tmall, the most popular squadron of F16 fighters in the US military, for example, 100 planes would make up six combat squadrons, and 100 planes could already arm two US aircraft carrier battle groups. 100 planes, just to transport some retail items, geez. I don’t think I’ll ever fly 100 planes in my lifetime. I’ll start counting them from now on.
Well, I seem to have said a bit too much today, so that’s all we have for this issue. We’ll see you next issue.
It’s Chinese New Year again. First of all, I would like to wish you all a happy Year of the Tiger. Any Tiger listeners out there? I heard that people born in the Year of the Tiger are very independent, have high self-esteem, like to act alone, don’t quite get along, like to play the role of protector, but tend to rush, so they are prone to missteps, is it true?
To be honest, I don’t really believe in reading personalities from the zodiac, but it’s interesting to read about it once in a while.
Since it is the Year of the Tiger, let’s take a look at an idiom related to the tiger. If you don’t enter a tiger’s den, you won’t get a tiger’s son. This is a compound idiom derived from a historical story. It comes from the Book of Later Han – The Biography of Ban Chao. If you do not enter a tiger’s den, how can you get a tiger’s son? It literally means that if you do not dare to go into the tiger’s den, you will not catch the tiger cub. As you may be able to guess it is actually a metaphor for if there is danger ahead, how can you succeed if you do not experience the danger yourself? How can you know the truth if you don’t practice it?
There is a story behind this idiom. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Ming of Han sent Ban Chao and 36 warriors to the Shanshan Kingdom to make friends. At first, the Shan king was polite and treated Ban Chao and the 36 warriors well, but then the Xiongnu emissary also came and said a lot of bad things about the Han Ming Emperor to the Shan king. The Shan king was somewhat convinced, and his attitude towards these men of Ban Chao cooled down. Ban Chao thought about it, and if the Shan king handed them over to the Xiongnu, they would definitely not get out alive. But if they really fought the Xiongnu, Ban Chao’s men only had thirty-six men, far fewer than the Xiongnu, and the chances of winning were not good.
Finally, he made up his mind and said, “If we do not enter the tiger cave, we will not be able to catch the tiger cubs. We will attack the Xiongnu mission by fire in the dark, so that they will not know how many of us there are, and they will be shocked, and we can destroy them all. With these enemies destroyed, the Shan king will be frightened out of his wits and we will have accomplished a great deal, and our feats will be established.”
Sure enough, Ban Chao won and defeated the Xiongnu, and the Shan king decided to lean on the side of the Han dynasty. When Emperor Ming of Han knew all this, he also admired Ban Chao’s courage and courage and began to reappoint him.
So that’s how you get a tiger’s son if you don’t enter a tiger’s den. I hope you will all be brave enough to go after what you want in the new year. Well then, Happy Chinese New Year and we’ll see you next time!
Today we are talking about gift giving. Gift-giving is a very interesting culture in China. I go back to China about once a year and every time I go home I start thinking about two months beforehand what I’m going to get my family this time. Gift-giving is a joyful thing, that’s for sure, but it can also be a headache, even maddening.
Firstly, what to give? Most people in China are more interested in the value of the gift. The value of the gift represents, to some extent, the sentiment of the giver. Beyond the value, it also depends on your relationship with the person, how well you know their preferences, and why you are giving the gift. Then when I go back to China from the UK, I must bring something with a British touch or something that is relatively cheap and good to buy in the UK. The first year and second year back home was easy, buy some chocolates, souvenirs, health products or whatever. After ten years or so, I don’t have any fresh ideas anyway. If anyone has any advice, tips or whatever, be sure to share it.
Some other gift-giving related customs in China include giving some kind of meet and greet gift when elders meet their juniors for the first time, especially young children.
Small beads or medallions of gold, silver or jade can be given to a new born child.
Young people who are about to get married are also expected to give gifts when they meet their lover’s parents for the first time officially, and you can imagine that they will usually give something more expensive, such as a tonic or wine. At the same time, the lovers’ parents also give the young people who are visiting them for the first time a gift. Some give money, others give the woman gold or silver jewellery. If invited as a guest, you can bring small gifts: flowers, fruit, etc. When visiting a sick person, people usually give flowers, fruit and health products as well.Chinese people should not give gifts of.
Shoes – implies that the person receiving the gift should be allowed to go
Wind chimes – means that your friendship with a friend will be carried away by the wind
Clocks – a gift that means “the end”
Knife – to say that you are breaking up with someone
If you want to send fruit, it is best not to send pears, as they are homophonic with the word for parting and do not have a good meaning.There are also different customs in different parts of China. For example, in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, you cannot give books because they are homophonic with the word for “lose”.
Another interesting thing in China is that when you give a gift, no matter what you give or how expensive it is, we usually add “It’s not anything expensive, please don’t mind.” / “This is a small token of my appreciation, please accept it”. This is to show courtesy and not to put too much pressure on the other person. The recipient of the gift will often politely excuse himself or herself by saying, “You’ve come, why don’t you have a gift? Then silently take the gift and put it away.The Chinese treat compliments from others in the same way. Everyone is very modest. The response is always: “Not good enough”, “Sloppy, I guess”, “How can I compare with you”. This is also a traditional Chinese virtue. Be humble. For example, a speaker usually says during a speech, “I am not well versed in literature and I am not well prepared, so I would like to ask for your advice”. In fact, ta may be an expert in this area and has been preparing for this speech for over a month.
Hospitality and hospitality: In China, if the host asks the guest what he or she would like to drink, the guest will usually say “I’m not thirsty” or “Don’t bother”. The host will then start to fetch a cup and make tea.
When the host pours the guest a drink, he or she will often excuses himself or herself by saying, “That’s enough, that’s enough”. In fact, it is not necessarily that the guest does not want to drink, but is just being polite. Therefore, it is important for the attentive and hospitable host to gauge the guest’s needs and actively meet them. At the table, the hospitable host is always offering the guest a drink or a dish. The atmosphere is very lively. It is like a game of tug-of-war, where one side keeps on persuading and the other keeps on excusing.
In the end, there is a Chinese saying that says: “Gift is reciprocated. If you give me a gift, the next time you will also give you a gift. So this custom of gift-giving will go on and on in this way.
I bet everyone has heard Jay’s songs, or at least knows Jay the singer. Jay has a song called ‘Celadon’. Let me play you a snippet.
The lyrics were written by Fang Wenshan. I don’t know if you know, but many of Jay Chou’s songs are written by Fang Wenshan, and their relationship is quite romantic, and there are many scandals, bromance kind of romance ha, good brother kind, don’t get me wrong. But we’re not here to gossip, so you can look it up online if you’re interested.
Another interesting point related to this song is that the lyrics of “Celadon” have appeared in the basic aptitude test exams in Shandong Province, the political science subject in Jiangsu Province, the exams in Shandong Province have also used the lyrics of “Celadon” to test the long history of Chinese porcelain, and also in a monthly exam in a secondary school in Wuhan, the topic is mimeographing the lyrics. It all appeared in the exam, and in different areas of the exam, from politics, history and literary genres, so the cultural content and potential of the song is obvious.
Let’s take a look at the lyrics. “The sky is green and waiting for the rain and I’m waiting for you” should be familiar to everyone and is one of my favourite lyrics…the latter part of the song. What I like most is the first line, “I’m writing in the bottom of a bottle, imitating the drift of the previous dynasty, as if I’m waiting for you”.
Let’s start with “The sky is blue waiting for the rain and I am waiting for you”. It is said to come from a legend. Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty dreamed of the rain passing and he liked that colour so much that he gave orders to the porcelain makers to make porcelain in that colour. This is the Ru kiln of Song porcelain. This is another type of porcelain that has nothing really to do with celadon. The emperor originally said that the rain was over, but Fang Wenshan reversed it and turned it into the sky is green and waiting for the smoke and rain, both are causal, but the idiom of the rain is over, we have all heard it ten thousand times, it means nothing. But I’m waiting for you is like sky green waiting for smoke and rain. This image is fresh, interesting and retains that sense of mystery of the whole song, which is great.
So, Fang Wenshan borrowed this legend and put it in the song Celadon, although it is not very accurate to put it in the song Celadon, but it sounds very romantic and sensational, so he is forgiven.
Then again, I like the line, “at the bottom of the bottle to write Han Li imitating the drift of the previous dynasty”, but in fact, Han Li was never engraved on the bottom of the celadon bottle. So, no ambrosia, can meet it is even more unknown. After knowing the truth my heart was broken. What about the promised romance, what about the promised I’ll wait for you? Just kidding ha, I’ll still make an exception and carve the Chinese clerical script on the bottom of the celadon vase and wait for you.
And the line, “I was thinking of you when I copied the Song mark”, as you can guess, the Song mark never appeared on the blue and white porcelain.
And “The peony depicted on the bottle is like your first makeup”… Don’t be fooled, the peony… does appear on the bottle. Peonies began to appear between 1271 and 1368 during the Yuan dynasty, when blue and white porcelain had matured and the most distinctive feature was the richness of the composition, which included historical figures, dragons and phoenixes, mandarin ducks, peonies, lotus flowers and so on.
Initially, blue and white porcelain began to be made during the Tang dynasty, and the porcelains were small, with bowls, jars, lids, and so on. They are generally floral and grass patterns, of which there are two main types: one is typical of traditional Chinese flowers and plants, such as stonecrop and plum blossoms, which are more common, and the other is loose leaf patterns sandwiched between geometric figures such as rhombuses, which are typical of arabesque decoration. It is clear from this that Tang blue and white porcelain was sold mainly to foreign countries.
After the Tang dynasty, blue and white porcelain went into decline until the Yuan dynasty. The Yuan dynasty saw a sudden upsurge. At that time, the Mongols of the Yuan dynasty travelled from Inner Mongolia in China all the way to Europe. It is interesting to note that in Persia, which is today’s Iran, a raw material called “Suma Li Qing” was found for painting on porcelain. The blue pigment on porcelain made in China is rather grey, and the effect is much worse compared to that of Suma Liqing. The reason for this is that the Chinese material contains more manganese, whereas the material from Iran contains less manganese, so the colour is much brighter after firing.
After discovering this, the Mongolian army had Chinese porcelain makers and Iranian potters sparring with each other, and China began to use local Iranian cobalt, which was then fired to produce the beautiful blue and white porcelain that is passed down through the world today.
So, although the discussion at the beginning was about Jay Chou’s song, using that as a set up, what I really want to talk about in this issue is not Jay Chou’s song. A song is a work of art, after all, and there’s no need to get too hung up on details that don’t match the production of celadon, but it’s another pleasure to know them, I guess. What I really want to talk about is related to the Iranian ‘Suma Li Qing’. No matter where a culture originates, when it meets, knows and learns from other cultures, it can eventually form a new and more perfect culture. Enriching the original culture
Well, that’s it for this edition, I’ll see you next time.
I have exams this week, so I’ve been busy with revision and exams for a while now. I did record a show in the last edition, but I really didn’t have time to edit it, so I didn’t get around to uploading it, so I’ll just move the last edition to this one. Actually, just to keep everything short, I’ll share with you a rather interesting news report I read recently. It was published in the New York Times, so let me just read it to you.
It’s titled “China’s Public Enemy Number One in the Internet Industry to “Tencent’s Dad””. You guessed it, it’s an article about Tencent.
Okay, let’s start.
A few months after launching a Groupon-style e-commerce service called Meituan, Wang Xing discovered that Tencent, China’s biggest internet company, was doing something similar.
“Is there any business that Tencent doesn’t do?” he asked. He asked.
Wang Xing’s comment was placed at the top of a magazine article about Tencent in 2010, and the article’s expletive-laden title became so notorious that two senior editors were fired shortly after it appeared in print. The magazine cover featured Tencent’s mascot – a chubby penguin wearing a red scarf with several knives sticking out of his body and blood pouring out.
It may look exaggerated, but at the time, Tencent was considered public enemy number one by the Chinese technology industry. This was a company that would not hesitate to plagiarise the ideas of others and keep startups alive. The company’s executives were repeatedly confronted at industry conferences and in media interviews. Entrepreneurs called it the most brazen plagiarist in the industry.
More than a decade on, the Chinese government is finally starting to tighten the reins on the country’s most powerful tech companies – but that doesn’t include Tencent, at least not yet. The company is being fined a little, but the government’s attention is mainly on Tencent’s rival, Jack Ma’s Alibaba empire. The next target? Perhaps Tencent’s former rival Meituan.
Only China’s antitrust regulators know exactly why Tencent has not been the focus of their attention so far. Still, as China’s largest and most powerful tech company, it has too much say in the outcome and may eventually be targeted – and probably should be.
But perhaps one of the reasons is that the industry is no longer crying out to beat Tencent these days. In fact, Tencent has become in many ways the industry’s biggest and most financially powerful cheerleader. By pouring money into small businesses and buying up competitors rather than driving them into the ground, the company has changed its image.
No longer public enemy number one, Tencent is now the enlightened monarch of an ever-expanding technology empire. A significant part of China’s internet industry belongs to the so-called Tencent ecosystem. This includes hundreds of Tencent-invested companies, Wang Xing’s venture being one of them – Tencent is now the largest shareholder in Meituan, with a 21 percent stake. (Meituan did not respond to a request for comment.)
“When Tencent copied,” one hotly spun blog wrote of the Chinese tech company that didn’t fall down. “When Tencent handed over the cheque, they lost the will to resist and defected in droves.”
The rapport Tencent maintains with many industry players may have brought the company a number of benefits. But it still inhibits competition and ultimately hurts China’s one billion internet users.
“Both Ali and Tencent hold a lot of resources,” says Yinsheng, a Beijing-based technology consultant. “If they do evil the harm will be great for both.”
Tencent declined to comment for this column. The company has said it will invest in high-quality and innovative companies and embrace fair competition. Rarely do technology investors and executives speak publicly about the two companies. But even in private conversations, as I put away my pen and notebook, I heard plenty of complaints about how Alibaba treats the companies it invests in and from merchants who use its platform – something Alibaba vehemently denies. In contrast, the same set of people often describe Tencent and its founder as decent, humble and well-mannered.
These friendliness are partly motivated by business necessity. The cordial relationship has helped cement Tencent’s influence in China.
Tencent is unique in the world. On many levels, it is a true monopoly. It wields influence in China that Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google can only dream of. Tencent is a major entertainment platform. It is the world’s largest online gaming company, with stakes in Riot Games and Epic Games. It also owns the largest online video, music and online literature businesses in China.
Tencent is a venture capitalist. In 2020, it trails only Silicon Valley investment firm Sequoia Capital in terms of the number of unicorns (startups valued at more than $1 billion) it has invested in, according to Shanghai-based research firm Hurun Report. By its own account, it has invested in more than 800 companies, including a 12 per cent stake in Snap and 5 per cent in Tesla. By comparison, GV, the most active corporate venture capital arm in the US and formerly known as Google Ventures, has invested in more than 500 companies.
Most importantly, Tencent is a platform operator. It runs WeChat, a mobile messaging app with social media and financial services capabilities. It is the WeChat business that allows this company to focus on befriending other companies.
WeChat needs other companies to keep its one billion users glued to the app. WeChat itself is like an operating system and an app shop that allows users to run small programs created and operated by other companies. These users can use WeChat’s payment system to make purchases. Tesla, Airbnb and Starbucks all have their own WeChat applets. So do most major Chinese websites – except for those banned by WeChat.
This is where Tencent’s good connections in the industry become important. Companies with friendly relationships develop small programs for WeChat. Tencent invests in Chinese online taxi and bike-sharing companies because their users pay frequently and Tencent wants them to use WeChat to pay.
Tencent’s chief executive Ma Huateng often says that half of Tencent’s life is in the hands of the companies and partners it invests in. “You grow up and we grow up, you fail and we fail as a platform,” he said on a TV talk show in 2016.
This belies the huge power imbalance between Tencent and many of the smaller companies it influences. Huang Zheng, founder of Pindo, hinted at this in a 2018 interview in which he complained about WeChat’s refusal to help review allegations against it for having counterfeit goods on its shopping platform.
“Because Tencent won’t die if I die,” he said, “Tencent has millions of sons.”
However decently or modestly Tencent behaves, it is a huge conglomerate, with profits of $24 billion last year, much of which went into investments. It decides the winners and losers, but the winners are not always the best in the industry, to the detriment of innovation and efficiency.
It restricts users’ access to other products and services. WeChat does not allow users to share links to products on Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao, or short videos on TikTok’s Chinese sister company ShakeYin. ( Other platforms also block Tencent’s services.) When three social messaging apps launched in January 2019, they were immediately blocked on WeChat.
ByteDance, the parent company of Jitterbug, brought the possibility of a company that could stand on its own two feet. In the early days, ByteDance’s founder Zhang Yiming took a small investment from Tencent to stop its advances, but refused to forge closer ties. Responding to rumours that Tencent would invest in ByteDive in 2016, Zhang Yiming wrote that he did not start ByteDive to become a Tencent employee. He posted the lyrics of the song Go Big or Go Home.
ByteDance’s self-reliance has paid off. It is now worth almost $400 billion and has some extremely popular web content apps, including TikTok, the first Chinese internet product to become a global phenomenon.
It’s not just the industry that Tencent has ingratiated itself with. It has long tried to get close to the government as well. In contrast to the sometimes unruly Alibaba, Tencent has long publicly stressed its willingness to fully comply with regulations. “Now I think we should learn more about what the government cares about, what society cares about, and be more compliant,” Tencent president Liu Keping said on an earnings call in January. Tencent executives used the word “compliance” six times during the call.
In April, the company said it would invest US$7.8 billion in President Xi Jinping’s favourite themes, including green energy, education and rural revitalisation. In the view of online commentator Hong Bo, Tencent is defending itself. He said, “It’s that from a business security perspective you have to look like you’re taking more social responsibility.”
The New York Times “From public enemy number one in China’s internet industry to “Tencent’s dad”
Well, that’s the end of the article. If you look closely, there are some details in this article that are worth discussing in more depth.
A while ago, there was this news that hit the news. It was that China now has almost 200 million single people. 200 million! The total population of the UK is only about 66.65 million. The total population of the United States is about 330 million. China’s total population is 1.398 billion. So, any way you look at it, the 200 million figure is a bit of a Doha. But, to be honest, when I first saw the news, I wasn’t really that surprised, as the net language has revealed a lot about this in recent years, with net language like single dog, spreading dog food, mother and child solo, lemon juice single, stubbornly single, single by ability, single for ten thousand years and so on more or less reflecting this trend.
But now that I’ve seen the news, I have to look into the reasons behind this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be me.
It is said that Mr. Liu Yan of Southwest Securities has produced a report called “A Thousand Miles to Find Him, That Man May Be Deep in the Screen”. If you don’t understand this little humour at first glance, you can listen to the issue where I talk about the naming of Baidu and then come back and taste the name carefully. This report points out that due to the imbalance in the sex ratio of the birth population, it has become more difficult to get married and the problem of marriage for single men and women has become a problem that society urgently needs to solve.
In fact, there have been three waves of singles in China.
The first was in the 1950s, when the Marriage Law gave women their human rights for the first time, freeing them from the oppression of the feudal marriage system and strengthening their sense of marital autonomy. In particular, the first wave of divorce occurred in 1953, following the month of the campaign to implement the Marriage Law, with some six million couples divorcing between 1951 and 1956.
The second wave of singles occurred in the late 1970s, when a large number of intellectual youths returned to the cities. Many of those who had married and had children in the countryside were unable to transfer the household registration of their spouses and children to the cities and had to resort to divorce in order to return to the cities.
The third wave of singles emerged around the 1990s, when reform and opening up triggered a change in traditional family values and young people began to embrace the idea of freedom, leading to a significant increase in divorce rates.
Today, a fourth wave of singles is emerging, characterised by a marked increase in the number of people actively choosing to be single. There are many reasons for this, so I’ll take my time and tell you all about them.
More men, fewer women On 11 May 2021, the results of China’s seventh national census were released, with men accounting for 51.24% of the population and women for 48.76%.
The reason for this cannot be separated from the long-standing phenomenon of China’s preference for males over females, which has led to a serious imbalance in China’s sex ratio. China is also one of the countries in the world with the most serious imbalance in the sex ratio at birth. The number of men in the marriageable age group exceeds the number of women in the marriageable age group. The marriage market, which was relatively stable and balanced, has been squeezed out by the huge difference in the number of men and women.
We all know that there are “leftover women”, but I am curious as to why there is no such thing as “leftover men” when this is clearly the age of “leftover men”. I’ll leave that question to you. I’m not saying I want the concept of the “leftover man” to be passed on to the rest of the world, but I would like to see no leftover men or women at all if I could, but why is “leftover woman” the only popular language?
The growing number of highly educated women
As I’ve said before, it seems to be harder for highly educated women to find compatible mates. Highly educated women tend to choose a partner with the same or higher education than themselves so that they have more in common. But men go reluctant to find a wife with a higher level of education than their own. It just doesn’t work out that way.
Women tend to choose a spouse who is older than them, men the opposite According to the survey, around 80% of single men tend to find a partner younger than themselves, while among women, over 90% of single women say that their future partner must be older than themselves. As can be seen, women have a wider range of choices in choosing a partner than men. As a result, it is harder for men in the same age group to find a suitable mate choice, and girls are going for older men, even if the women they might fall for have not yet been born. Economic pressure
The number of financially independent single women in first and second tier cities is increasing, and the financial requirements of women for their men are rising. One survey says that 80% of single women believe that RMB 5,000 is the starting point for a man’s monthly income. Of these, 67.06% of single women require a man to earn between $5,000 and $10,000, and 25.02% of single women require a man to earn more than $10,000. The five cities with the highest income requirements for men nationwide are Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou. In contrast, men’s income requirements for women are generally lower, with 80% of single men saying it is acceptable for their partner to earn less than 5,000. Singles with an average monthly disposable income of more than RMB 8,000 are known as prime singles, and there are more single women than single men in this group.
Of course, beyond income there is the issue of a house and a car. The Chinese ideal is to have a car and a house before getting married, and houses in big cities are getting more and more expensive, so some people haven’t got a license yet because they haven’t saved enough money to buy a house or their careers haven’t reached a level where they can support their lives.
After all, in the world of adults, falling in love is not a meal, and love is not a drink of water. The so-called golden singles, who are living quite well on their own, do not necessarily need to fall in love, nor do they necessarily have the time to do so.
Work pressure To earn more money you have to work well, and many higher paying jobs also mean that most of your time and energy has to be spent on work. When the only thing left in your life is a line between work and home, the chances of meeting love are very slim. When all your time is spent on work except for eating and sleeping, how can you find the time and energy to find someone and fall in love?
This is how the dating market is formed. It is not easy enough to meet someone you like naturally, and this has led to special dating agencies or apps.
View of marriage Divorce is no longer taboo, but a chance to choose again for a new happiness. The simplification of divorce procedures has also made divorce easy and convenient. The increasing number of divorces is also gradually causing people to lose faith in marriage. The increase in divorce rates has objectively increased the number of single people.
Another trend is that due to economic and work pressures, people are becoming more and more materialistic in the marriage market, and the old-fashioned “right family” is coming back. I think one important reason is that modern society is more stratified. You have to like and see the right person, but you also have to be a good match in terms of class and have a common language, so there are more restrictions than before. This is why it is so difficult to find the right person.
The fragility of marriage is also linked to the increased mobility of society. You see, there are people from the countryside who come to work in the city, people who work in the city, people who change jobs, people who migrate to another country, people who are constantly exposed to different people and environments, and so on. People do not live in a closed space, but have many contacts. This mobility and diversity increases the opportunities for all kinds of contacts, so the vulnerability of marriage is increased compared to what it was before.
Homosexuality I still read this one on Baidu. Anyways, here’s what Baidu says: “With the involvement of the media and the increasing openness of society, homosexuality among women is gradually gaining public recognition. According to the survey, nearly 4% of women are single because of their “sexual orientation”, and the tendency of single women in Shanghai is as high as 4.75%, the highest in the country, although more and more women are no longer choosing heterosexual marriages against their will, and not many are successfully finding same-sex partners.”
So look forward to when Baidu can add a statistic about gay men and when China can open up completely and allow same-sex marriages. This might also help China to get rid of the wave of singles.
For all these reasons, many people are more cautious about marriage, considering whether the person is a womanizer, whether they have a future in their career, what their parents are like, whether they have a common language, whether they want to buy a house or a car, and so on. With so many factors, it sounds like it’s even harder than having a career. No wonder so many people are still single. If every single person in China gave me a dollar, I would be a billionaire. What a beautiful dream.
So…. I’ll go back to dreaming then, see you next time.
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