Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Princess Hours (Goong)

This is the No.8 most searched keyword in the TV drama category on Yahoo in China today. It is the hottest Korean TV drama in China right now.


Princess Hours ( in Chinese or in Korean) is a light romantic comedy about a bunch of good looking kids and their lives around the fictitious royal family in Korea (South Korea is a Republic if you must know, the royal family has been long gone since 1911). The main character (played by Yoon Eun Hye) an ordinary high school girl who for an unrealistic reason marries the crown prince (played by Joo Ji Hoon) who also goes to the same school. The production was a huge hit in Korea: it was once of MBC's most popular dramas in 2006. And it became yet another successful entertainment export product for Korea. The show cashed in a lot of foreign currencies from other Asian countries.

If you haven't notice, Korean pop culture is the "in" thing now in Asia ("Korean Wave" or "韓流"). It used to be Japan that was the center for young pop idols manufacturing and exporting, but the tide has all of a sudden changed since a few years ago. These good looking Korean pop idols have now taken over. For a lot of young kids, it is now more trendy to like a Korean idol than a local one. Compared with local Chinese pop idols, Koreans idols are better looking, styled more fashionably, sing cooler songs and have more mesmerizing music videos. Language is not a problem and the Koreans don't have the historical baggage like the Japanese. I must admit that I watched Princess Hours, too, and I liked it, although I am outside the show's target demographics.

Goong S (Goong' sequel): a totally different story but with the same royal family theme.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Naruto vs. Harry Potter

Naruto is the hottest manga/cartoon in China now. It has been the No.1 most searched manga keyword on Yahoo China ever since this blog started.


Naruto is a Japanese manga about a bunch of teenage ninjas and their lives in a ninja academy. Is it just me or it sounds a lot like Harry Potter? Naruto, the main character, is also an orphan, just like Harry. When Naruto was a baby, the leader of his village sacrificed his own life to seal the nine-tailed demon fox inside Naruto. Therefore, Naruto has become the containment vessel for the demon fox. Doesn't this remind you of the business between Harry and Voldemort?


Harry has a girl best friend, Hermione, and a boy best friend, Ron; Naruto has Sakura Haruno (the girl with pink hair) and Sasuki Uchiha (the dark-haired one). Naruto and these two friends form a learning team together with the assigned leader, Kakashi Sensei. There are other three-people teams as well, and different teams compete and interact with each other much like the different Houses at Hogwarts.

Personally, I think the degree of similarity exits that can be achieved through random coincidence, but then again, how does that matter? In the world of business, Japan's Naruto and U.K.'s Harry Potter are both big winners. Geez, I wish I could come up with a story like that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Secret That I Can't Tell (不能说的秘密)

This is the most searched keyword on Yahoo China today (360346 searches in one day).

It is the name of Jay Chou's new movie, which he directed himself, and the title song of the same name. Check out this music video from YouTube.com

Jay Chou is undoubtedly the king of pop music in China today (he is nicknamed by media "President Chou" or "周董"). This 28-year-old from Taiwan has one unbeatable advantage over most other young pop idols, that is, he has real musical talent. Jay composes all his songs himself  and has done a lot of work for other singers.

Maybe Jay felt that he wasn't getting enough challenges since it was just all too easy for him (yes, sometimes this kid does seem a little snobbish), he has started to get involved in movie production in recent years. Last year, he played Prince Jai in the movie "Curse of the Golden Flower" ("满城尽带黄金甲") alongside experienced and award-studded Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li. I saw the movie, and I thought Gong Li was brilliant, Jay was mediocre but his role did not require much acting anyway. The story was thin but hey, what the heck, just watch it for it is the most expensive Chinese  movie ever made. Jay composed and sang the highly praised theme song for the movie. This clip below is the music video of this song, "Chrysanthemum Terrace" ("菊花台") and it's got bits of the movie trailer in it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


This is the most searched cosmetic brand in China according to Baidu.com  (http://data.baidu.com/).

I was actually a little surprised when I first went to China. L'Oreal is known as a high-end brand there, and they have counters next to brands such as Clinique or Lancome in posh department stores.

Where I grew up, L'Oreal is certainly not a premium brand. You normally see it on the shelves in supermarkets and pharmacies, next to brands such as Maybelline and Neutrogena. I almost feel that it's more like a brand geared towards customers of middle-age and above. The package is old-fashioned and unattractive. I think the only L'Oreal product I have ever used was a face wash, and I wasn't that impressed. Honestly, Neutrogena has better cleansing product for the same amount of money.

However, it is positioned as a premium brand in China. You can see L'Oreal TV commercials during prime time almost on a daily basis, huge posters in crowded shopping districts, and nice advertisements in glossy magazines that target young white-collared females. This new positioning seems to work well in opening up the China market for L'Oreal, but if it wants to expand it's market share in China by entering the rural areas, L'Oreal will need to come up with plan that won't risk it's image while capturing the lower end of the market.

In fact, a lot of the foreign brands face similar challenges. I remember at my ex-company, almost every meeting about marketing strategy was a discussion of "how to make the poor people buy our stuff without cheapening the image which will piss off the existing rich customers in the big cities". If you have a smart answer, then you can have a really brilliant career in China.

Monday, July 23, 2007

"Japanese Audience Hitting Chinese Athlete!"

This is the title of the hottest forum topic on Yahoo China today.

This YouTube clip below shows what happened. It was filmed during the Cup of China figure skating competition held in Nanjing in 2006. Japanese player Yukari Nakano was hit in the head by an unidentified object thrown from the audience. She came second in that game.

(source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQniouuzxE)

But someone extracted a small part of the clip (the part where she was getting hit) and re-labeled it as "Japanese audience hitting Chinese athlete! Very angry!" and put it on Youku.com (another Chinese equivalent of YouTube). The clip below is what the Chinese people see on their Internet:


This clip was viewed 17,687 times and copied and pasted onto Yahoo forum on Sunday, July 22, using the same title "Japanese Audience Hitting Chinese Athlete! Very Angry!"

Naturally waves and waves of anti-Japanese comments were generated on this topic. Despite of several responses saying that this is in fact the other way around, people continued with the rude and demeaning comments. Follow the link below to read these posts (Chinese):


Although I know a little bit about the historical background (Nanjing massacre and Comfort Women), I find it extremely unsettling that some people actually think it is okay to manipulate facts to suite a collective hate purpose. I know the South Koreans are anti-Japanese, too, but will they do something like this?Today's story really sends chills down my spine.

Private Brothel

This is the most searched keyword on Yahoo China today (301,804 searches in one day).

It in fact refers to the recent exposure about Henry T. Nicholas III's attempt to build an underground hideaway at his Laguna Hills estate to indulge in drugs and sex with prostitutes seven years ago.

The secret lair, reportedly called "Nick's Cafe", started to cause trouble when a construction crew complained that Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom,  failed to pay them millions of dollars for work performed between 1998 and 2002. The case was since settled but now there is a man seeking a large share of the settlement and hence the recent exposure.

Read more about this news:



I hardly find this news surprising or interesting, but I do find it surprising and interesting that the Chinese people like it so much. All the English reports I found were dated July 18, so it means it only took a couple of days for it to reach China and become the hottest topic. Bad news does travel fast, especially anything to do with sex.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chu Pui-hing's Sex Scandal

This is the No.5 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, and the name "Chu Pui-hing" tops the rank in the "People" category, too.

(Source: Mingpao)

Yup, that guy hiding behind the woman is Chu Pui-hing (朱培慶). He was the Director of Radio Television Hong Kong until a few days ago when he had to opt for an "early retirement" due to the scandal.

(Source: Mingpao)

Last Thursday (July 12), Chu was unfortunately spotted by media reporters and photographers (they were there to interview a pop singer who was holding a private concert in a nearby pub) emerging with a heavily made-up woman, arm in arm, holding a wig in his hand, from a Karaoke club ("Must Kara"). He reacted by dodging behind the woman and then dashing into a toilet of a nearby restaurant whilst still holding the wig. This clownish behavior immediately became the talk of HK, and now the entire China.

The woman in the photo is self-named "Coco" (due to her resemblance to singer Coco Lee) and is a stripper/call-girl/table-top dancer from China (illegally, of course). Apparently Chu, who is 59 years-old and married with two kids, paid a hefty 10,000 HKD (1,250 USD) to "take Coco out" after she performed a sexy all-nude table-top dance (wearing that wig) for Chu at the club. They were on the way back to Coco's place when Chu was caught by the camera.

Chu resigned not because of corruption. I must say he is an honest man. He forked out money from his own pocket instead of allowing the accompanying business men to pay for him (which would be a "gift" and the ICAC would be all over him by now). I guess this is why the Chinese people find this news interesting; you hardly see "happy ending" like this on the Mainland. Things like this will never get directly exposed by the media.

As for Coco, she is now a celebrity. Tabloid magazines that interviewed her were immediately sold out. Although she had to go back to China for a while to wait for things to cool down a bit, especially when her work status in HK was illegal, she said this in the interview: " I am definitely going back to HK and one day I shall become the No. 1 Mama-san in the entire Hong Kong!"

Chu's career is totally finished but Coco's bright future has just begun.

Read more about this:

Sex scandal forces out RTHK head

Coco's blog (Chinese):


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Zhang Liangying

This name is the No.1 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today.

Zhang Liangying (aka Jane Zhang) is a young female singer (22 yrs) and many regard her voice as one of the best amongst the young pop singers in China today. She has a very wide vocal range and some of her fans call that "dolphin note" (her favorite singer is Mariah Carey).

See some of her performances on YouTube.com


If you read my blog entry about the Chinese Idol Li Yuchun, you would know that Li became hot because she won the "Super Girl" contest in 2005. Interestingly, Jane Zhang was at the same contest, but she only came third. The YouTube clip above is her performance at the contest.

She actually looks a little like A-Mei, a pop singer from Taiwan and according to one on-line survey result, 11.5% people like her because of the resemblance. 17% likes her "I don't give a damn" attitude and an overwhelming 71% likes the voice. By the way, she sings mostly English songs and it's very well taken by her fans although most of them don't understand the meaning of the words.

Jane had a personal concert in Pasadena, Los Angeles at the end of March this year. There was quite a lot of media hype prior to the concert. People thought this was going to be a national pride: a Chinese pop singer standing on the American stage singing to the Americans! It turned out to be more like a gather together dinner party of the local Chinese people, and the venue and the stage was embarrassingly unattractive. Then no one talked about it anymore. I kind of feel sorry for her as it's not her fault. People are just too hooked on the "gaining face internationally" thing.

Jane's Official Website:

http://www.janezhang.com/index.aspx (Chinese)

Stinky Tofu

This is the No. 7 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today (280229 searches in one day). Actually, I omitted some part of the keyword because it was too disgusting. I wanted to give you a warning before you continue reading.

If you thought my recent blog entry about Beijing's fake pork buns was rather shocking, then please be mentally prepared for something that is 10 time worse.

This time it's Shenzhen's stinky tofu. The tofu is not fake, unlike the pork buns in Beijing. However, the tofu is made under extremely unhygienic conditions.

Stinky tofu is basically fermented tofu. The tofu is soaked and fermented in a special brine to give it it's strong odor. It really tastes much better than it smells. Think Limburger cheese.

Although I quite like stinky tofu personally, I never bothered to find out how it is made. Now I know.

One report from Singtao reveals that in the Nanshan district in Shenzhen, illegal tofu manufacturers use chemical powder, kitchen waste water/oil, snails, dead flies and rotten meat to make that special brine. One proud owner says that in order to increase the product differentiation of his stinky tofu in the competitive market, he adds a little fecal water for the extra touch. The investigators were so disgusted they vomited while doing the search.

I don't think I will ever eat stinky tofu again, at least not in China. Yuck! By the way, the complete keyword is "Stinky Tofu Fermented with Shit Water".

Read this original report from Singtaonet.com (Chinese)


Monday, July 16, 2007

Another Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

Speculative real estate trading. That's what's hot in Shenzhen right now. "Shenzhen's explosive housing market" ranks No. 5 on Yahoo China's keyword search today.

Despite of various policies to cool down the housing  market in all the major cities in China, buyers are not hesitated in the least bit, especially in Shenzhen. According to one real estate agent, 8000 speculative traders control nearly 30% of the resale market in Shenzhen. Everybody knows the market is overheated and the houses are overvalued, but no one is stopping. In the first quarter of 2007, the market saw a 10.3% y-o-y increase. And just within the first 6 months of this year, the price increased by 50%.

The highest record price belongs to one luxury house in the Futian district, the per square foot price is 1711 USD. How does that compare to luxury houses in the States? According to one report published by the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing, an Aspen, Colorado mountain compound (Hala Ranch) that was recently listed for sale by Prince Bandar bin Sultan is currently the most expensive residence for sale in the US today. It's priced at 2410 USD per square foot but it includes stables and 95 acres in an exclusive Rocky Mountain resort area. You get so much more just by paying a little extra; I would pick the Aspen house any day.


http://news.sohu.com/20070712/n251018188.shtml (Chinese)

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2007-06/15/content_895380.htm (English)

Zheng Xiaoyu

This name has been on the top 5 list on Yahoo China for quite a few days now, although he doesn't exist anymore.

Zheng Xiaoyu was the ex-head of China's State Food and Drug Administration (like FDA in U.S.). He was executed last Tuesday,  10th of July, 2007. Details can be read at Wikipedia:


Zheng was basically found guilty of taking bribes so that many drugs that shouldn't have been approved could get approved. It is said that his bribery money totaled 6.49 million RMB (approximately 850,000 USD). China began to notice the corruption within Zheng's department when a batch of contaminated antibiotic IV injection killed at least 10 people and injured 80 people last year. This particular antibiotics is called "Xinfu" in China, and after many searches, I finally found out that it was clindamycin.

Do you really think the corrupt health system in China will be fixed by killing the head of FDA? I think the answer is highly debatable. Corruption is everywhere in the health system, both desk people and front-line workers. I have talked to quite a few ex-doctors in China, the general mentality is "the pay is so low that it's crazy not to take bribes". Well well.

But fear not, those of you who are traveling to China in the near future, there are fancy, upmarket clinics that cater specifically for the foreigners. I believe you can see western doctors who will not give you an unknown IV drip for just a minor cold. But make sure you bought (or your company bought for you) the right insurance package, otherwise the fee can eat significantly into your handsome expat salary. Prepare to pay 100USD per consultation.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Beijing's Fake Pork Buns

This is the most viewed news footage on Tudou.com today (Tudou is the Chinese equivalent of YouTube)

The Middle Kingdom is now the Kingdom of Fakes. In addition to the fake LVs, Guccis, Rolexes now there are fake pork buns (baozi).

One CCTV program aired this shocking revelation late night on Wednesday and it instantly became the talk of the country. There is quite a lot of discussions in Hong Kong, too.

Some pork bun vendors mixed cardboard boxes with the minced pork to make the filling for the pork buns. The cardboard boxes were softened with NaOH (to make it all mushy) and then "flavoured" with chemical flavour power and lots of salt to masquerade the paper taste.

The secret recipe is 60% cardboard and 40% fatty meat. Once vendor claims that on a good day the profit can reach 1000 RMB with such cost-cutting strategy. I assume it's untaxed. You can live like well-paid expat with that kind of income.

The scariest thing is that the vendor states this is a common and well-known practice in the industry, and they have been doing it for the past 10 years in Beijing. It will not surprise me in the least bit if people find similar "products" in other places of China.

The concept of business ethics is so messed up in China I don't even know where to begin to comment. I used to have a colleague who will only eat and drink at McDonald's and Starbucks whenever he goes on a business trip to China. I called him a wuzz behind his back. Sorry, Jeff, now I know you are the smart one.

Read this story on MSNBC


Watch the original news on Tudou.com (in Mandarin)


Hottest Male Star -- Andy Lau

I realized that we've talked about quite a few female celebrities in China but I have sort of unintentionally neglected the other sex. So, Andy Lau, the most searched, most popular male singer/actor in China, is today's topic.

Every time I see that anti-piracy commercial featuring Jacky Chan and the respectable governor of California, I can't help but wonder if the marketing people really know their audience. Yes, Jacky Chan may be the most well known Chinese actor in the West, but he is no where near as popular as Andy Lau is in Asia. Jacky Chan is really ugly, I am sorry, and he is known for womanizing. Andy Lau, on the other hand, is incredibly good looking and has a clean, boy scout-like image. Who do you think the Chinese women will choose?

Andy is actually from Hong Kong and has fans all over Asia and possibly the whole world. Of course there is a very detailed description of Andy on Wikipedia (although I don't think that photo does him justice), but I can summarize his success factors succinctly:

  1. Incredibly good-looking (sorry to repeat but it is quite essential), manly not boyish, a little metrosexual but not too much.
  2. Shockingly young and fit for his age (45!) but he doesn't look disgusting or he  is trying too hard. Good dress sense.
  3. Professional and never act stupid or say anything stupid. Nice to the media people.
  4. Patriotic (of utmost importance for the Mainland Chinese). Many of his songs have nationalistic and patriotic elements. I notice that he always sings the song "Chinese People" at all major festival celebrations in China. Seems to be extremely taken by the Mainlanders. (He never sings this song in Taiwan....)
  5. Forever single. Although it is an open secret that he is married to a rich girl in Malaysia, he never admits it. It's very smart of him to maintain a good relationship with the media people: they don't seem to want to question his private life at all.

If you have never seen Andy Lau's performance, I suggest that you start with the movie "Infernal Affairs" which is the original story that "The Departed" was based on. Andy Lau plays the bad guy, the one played by Matt Damon in the Hollywood remake. Many people who have seen both productions say the original was much better. You can judge it for yourself, and see if Andy Lau is just all looks.

Andy Lau's Official Fan Club Website


Andy Lau sings "Chinese People"


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Most Visited Blog In China

dtdg777.blog.163.com. The blog  started in February and had 16 million visits within 3 months. Its highest record within a single day is 1.5 million visits. Why so popular? It gives you share trading tips.

The popularity of the blog accurately reflects the share trading frenzy in China. Up until now, there are a total 96 million trading accounts in just Shanghai and Shenzhen alone, out of which 70 million are retail. I believe the ratio is the highest in the world.

Speculative share trading has become the new get-rich-quick scheme in China and the traders come from all walks of life. I think the scariest scene is the huge crowd waiting outside broker shops every morning. Once the door is open, people just rush in and fight for a spot in front of the terminal. You will see rows and rows of terminals which people just sit in front of for the entire trading day, and they bring drinks, food, things to read. Interestingly, quite a big portion of these people are retirees. They are basically gambling with their entire life's savings. I don't know why they have to use the terminals to look at the prices and place orders, I have always just used Etrade at home. Maybe in China you can't trade shares online from home, or people just like using free stuff at the local broker shops.

As for dtdg777, he was arrested a few days ago and the blog is of course closed now. Apparently he was asking his followers to pay hefty fees to join the special club for more and better tips. No information on how much he has got so far but one report claims it's probably around 7 million RMB (that's very close to 1 million USD).

The Most Famous Foreigner in China -- Dashan

If you haven't lived in China for a while, you will never guess it. Prior to my stay in China, I thought the most famous foreigner would be someone like George W. Bush or Beckham. How wrong I was.

Dashan is what he is known as in China, Mark Rowswell is his real name. There is a detailed description of this guy on Wikipeidia


And he has a website, too


Basically, Dashan is a really average, plain-looking Canadian from Ottawa. To most people, he is really not that noticeable at all. The only talent he has is that he can speak really really good Chinese, even better than most of the Chinese people as the majority of the population has an accent of some sort depending on where they live. Dashan, on the other hand, speaks perfect Beijing Mandarin, the kind you will find spoken by the news anchors on CCTV. Well, I guess it is quite hard to master such a difficult language.

The Chinese people are very taken by this guy's ability to speak like one of their own. You will see this guy practically on every channel (well, maybe not the adult's one...) when you turn on your TV in China. He appears primarily on CCTV programs, teaching people Chinese/English, travel/culture shows...blah blah blah. He hosts New Year's special shows (the ones where foreigners will sing Chinese songs, do Chinese dance) and he has endorsed quite a number of products, especially things to do with learning English and stuff imported from Canada.

Gaikokujin tarento (foreigner talent) is the term they use to describe people like Dashan in Japan. Apparently the Japanese people also find foreigners who can speak fluent Japanese amusing. I guess this is one new alternative for those who want to get into the entertainment industry but don't have any real talent : go learn Chinese and be really good at it,  then head East for the gold mine.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hottest Online Game -- Crazyracing Kartrider

This is the most searched keyword in the "Games" category on both Yahoo China today and has been since this blog started. But of course the Chinese people don't type "Crazyracing Kartrider" in the look-up bar, they type "跑跑卡丁车".

Crazyracing Kartrider was actually developed by Nexon, a South Korean online game developer.  In S. Korea, the game was so successful that reportedly one-quarter of the population has played the game at some point in time. There are 15 million users of this game in S. Korea. I couldn't find statistics on the Chinese players.

Not knowing much about online games myself, I crawled several Chinese online forums to find out why this game is so taken by the young people in China, and I reached the following conclusion:

  1. The characters are really cute, which is very attractive for girls. In S. Korea, the game is almost like a national game and is played by people in the atypical group. In fact, I read about this report on a 52-year-old Chinese lady who plays the game.
  2. Almost endless options with the maps, themes, special tools (you pay real bucks for these) and playing levels. Players can race alone or in teams with different modes. There are tutorials and driving tests (license awarded!). It's almost impossible to get bored with the game.
  3. Smart marketing. The game has a catchy slogan: "Catch My Drift!". In China, the slogan is "全民漂移" which basically means "Everybody Drifts!" and they love it!
  4. Excellent distribution channels. Although the game is free, special gadgets are not. You need to buy a rechargeable card (much like a prepaid phone card). In China, there are distributors throughout the whole country where players can obtain the cards from. In some places like Shanghai, you can even just go down to the convenient store near your place to get the card. The face values are only 10 and 40 RMB (roughly 1.3 and 5.3 US respectively) and hence very affordable and attractive for young players.

So much for my analysis, maybe you would like to find out how fun this game really is first hand. You can check out and download the game in your language from the following sites:

American Kartrider Official Website

Taiwan Kartrider Official Website

China Kartrider Official Website

Nexon (Korean) Game Download Page

Happy drifting! 

Friday, July 6, 2007

Subway Suicide

This is the No.1 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today.

On July 3rd, a man killed himself by jumping in front of an incoming train at the Zhu Jiang station in Nanjing.

This was the first subway suicide in Nanjing since the subway system opened for business in 2005. However, in the close-by city of Shanghai, there ha already been 66 subway suicides since 1995. The problem is not unique to China, in the neighboring South Korea and Japan, subway suicide has always been a major headache for the society. Both countries have tried various tactics to stop the problem, although I couldn't find any reports on the efficacy of these tactics.

(Read this report on S.Korean subway suicide)


Currently in Nanjing, works are underway to install platform safety barriers on both Line 1 and Line 2 to prevent similar accidents from happening again.

Although preventing subway suicide does not necessarily help with the overall suicide rate in the society as people may use other places, it does prevent accidents where people fall off the platform due to pushing and overcrowding, which, if you have been to China, you will know is a possibility.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Busty Japanese Teen Heals Sino-Japanese Wound?

Today's hottest search keyword in China is 入江紗綾, or Saaya Irie.

Saaya is a 13-year-old tiny little girl with an unusually well-endowed chest for her age. She was on the cover of Japanese Playboy (in a bikini top that was way too small) when she was only in Grade 6 last year. What were her parents thinking?

Anyway, Saaya first became a known celebrity in China during the Anti-Japanese riot in 2005. Someone, on what purpose I don't know, posted her sexy photos on Baidu.com with the following accompanying messages:

"Busty F-cup 11-year-old Japanese girl begs:

'Please listen to me, dear Chinese brothers, please stop the riot or I won't like you anymore! If you stop the riot, I will show you my tits by uploading photos!'"

The riot was calming down around the same time, so it has been suggested, jokingly, that Saaya was a peace maker between the two nations.

Saaya (well, her agent, to be more precise) has just released yet another photo collection that is full of bikini shoots this summer, and hence again the sudden increased interest from China.

Although the Chinese people are openly anti-Japanese, but photos of scantly dressed Japanese teens are popular on the Internet in China, generally with accompanying obscene remarks. I don't know if they see this as a revenge or yet another invasion?


(For more information on Saaya visit Wikipedia and YouTube)



Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Lying SPF

This is the No.6 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today.

On July 1st, China started to implement the new regulations on cosmetics, one of the new rules was related to the labeling of products with SPF. Under the new rule, the maximum SPF number that the label can show is 30, even when the actual SPF of the product is over 30.

However, many products, including big imported brands, continue to have product labels that show very high SPF numbers. They either don't know about the new regulations, or they are choosing to ignore it. I think the latter is more likely.

In China, and most other parts of Asia, products with SPF are extremely important, to both the consumers and cosmetic companies. Not because people are very into protection against photo-aging, but because fair and flawless skin is, and has always been, the ultimate beauty goal. $$$ for cosmetic companies, both big and small.

(Read this CNN report)


So how is it a surprise when manufacturers are continuing to ignore regulations on labeling and advertising? The fines are such small peanuts compared to the profits and rises in stock prices.

In fact, lying SPF is really a tiny issue, the worst comes to the worst you get a little tanned and sunburned. In China, there are millions of lying labels on food, drugs, health products, and they can cause consequences a lot worse then dark skin.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sister Lotus -- Clown/Celebrity on Internet

"Sister Lotus" is a keyword that you will find on the Top 10 lists of all the major search engines in China. You can read a complete description of her on Wiki (see below) but I can just sum it up for you: she is famous because she is a joke.

Read about her on Wikipedia


Or her own blog (in Chinese only, but plenty of photos)


 As you can see, she is not really attractive, and based on her blog and online discussions about her, she is not funny or talented, either. There is really nothing special about her, people who are delusional about their own attractiveness are everywhere. Seems that the Chinese people find her entertaining exactly because she is slightly mental.

The strangest finding I got from my research on Sister Lotus is how she became an Internet celebrity. Apparently, she first started posting her own sexy pix and over-confident remarks about herself on the BBS of Beijing and Tsinghua Universities, which are the top 2 universities in China. Other users of the BBS started to praise how attractive she was and encouraged her to post more photos, which she happily obliged. All these people must be telling more people to check out this weird chick at the same time since there was a tremendous network effect and she became a national phenomenon in a very short period of time.

All of a sudden, the whole China was talking about her and people tried to tag along her fame. One guy said that he wanted to marry her and got his five minutes of fame. TV shows and various consumer products PR campaigns invited her to create more media exposure. At these appearances, people kept on prompting her to show more sexy poses, talk about how pretty and special she was, which in turn continued to encourage her to keep making a fool out of herself.

The ridiculous craze has reached such a point that the Government actually made blog hosts "move her blogs and any related news to sites with less traffic" in order to douse the fire. Hey I am all for freedom of speech, but seriously, I agree with the Beijing Government on killing this thing.  Making fun of a marginally mental  woman is not a good thing, especially it started with the students of Beijing and Tsinghua Universities, young people who are supposed to be the creme de la creme of the country.

Monday, July 2, 2007

S.H.E.--The Hottest All-Girl Pop Group

Almost all of the Fortune 500 companies are channeling ever-increasing resources into getting a piece of the huge Chinese pie, and why should pop idols be any different? Sure, it's nice to be loved back at home in Taiwan, Japan, Korea or Hong Kong, but China is where the money is for an increasing number of pop idols in Asia despite of rampant piracy. S.H.E. is one all-girl pop group that is raking it in big times with their China strategy.

For a more complete description of S.H.E. visit


S.H.E. (short for Selina, Hebe and Ella, the three girls' names) is quite unique in the sense that they appeal to both young girls and guys, unlike the traditional approach where pop idols tend to attract the opposite sex. They are kind of but not very pretty or sexy (so girls like them), kind of cute (but not to the extreme of Japanese cute), sing very well and mock themselves all the time. They have endorsed numerous products that target the young consumers. My personal guess is that endorsement fee is actually the main source of income for them in China since it is really meaningless to talk about CD sales as most of the CDs are pirated.

One touchy issue that Taiwanese pop idols should always bear in mind is their national identity. Chinese people want their idols to be very patriotic, so anything they say or do that suggest Taiwan is not part of China will immediately attract waves of negative comments. In 2006, S.H.E. had a close one by saying that they "are not Chinese, but Taiwanese" during an interview with a Japanese TV program. Lucky for the girls that this issue wasn't escalated. A-Mei, another hugely popular Taiwanese singer wasn't so lucky. She was practically banned from all performances/media appearances in China after singing the national anthem at the official flag raising ceremony on Taiwan's National Day several years ago. Only recently China has started to lift the ban on A-Mei, and she has since learned to shut up whenever similarly sensitive issues come up.  However, it was a big loss. Think of all the Yuans she could've cashed in during those few years. Huge mistake.

Read more about A-Mei and her unfortunate accident