Saturday, September 29, 2007

Colorful Highway

This is the No.1 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,755,931 searches in one day.


The newly renovated Zhengzhou-Luoyang Highway in Henan Province debuts on 29th September. What's so special about it is that parts of the highway have been coated with a colorful layer of high tech materials as seen in the photos above.

The coating is a mixture of resin glue and ceramic particles, and the function of the coating is to increase friction on the road surface and hence better safety in rainy seasons. Noise reduction is another useful feature. The bright colors also serve to attract drivers' attention. The coatings are concentrated primarily in accident-prone areas such as downhill paths, entrances and exits of tunnels.

The coated surfaces add up to about 30,000 meters square. If this concept is taken well by the public, the Henan government is planning to do more of it.


Colorful Highway to Debut in Henan

Bush Ruining Children's Education

This is the No. 1 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,729,768 searches in one day.

The American President's grammatical mistakes are being laughed at even in China these days. Bad words travel fast.


During the filming of a promotional video for his "No Child Left Behind Act" at a school in New York a couple of days ago, Bush gave new meaning to the term, plural, by saying "childrens" instead of "children".

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured," he said.

The White House dropped the "s" in the official transcript. Ironically, he was trying to sell the centerpiece of his education policy.


"Childrens do learn," Bush tell school kids

布什 误人子弟

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Win In China 赢在中国

This is the name of the hottest TV program in China right now (although strictly speaking it should be "Winning In China" but I guess that doesn't really matter), a reality show aired on CCTV that lets  budding entrepreneurs compete against each other. The final winner will get to be the CEO of a newly established company that is worth no less than 10 million RMB. In addition to the power to reign, he/she will also get 35% share of the company.

It's a little like The Apprentice except that there is no one Donald Trump who decides which guy gets kicked out. The audience can have a say by voting for their favorite player on-line and a panel formed by various supposedly very successful business people makes the final decision. I found one clip that is subtitled. I watched it but I couldn't really make out what they were competing on. Maybe you can.


Winning is almost a must nowadays in China. Everybody wants to win and succeed. I remember at my ex-company, all the local employees constantly said that they wanted to succeed. Sometimes I really wanted to ask them what they would do AFTER they succeeded. "Successful" and rich people are looked up to big times, and this mentality is infused into the education system deeply. Remember your school motto? I remember my school motto was something to do with science and truth. Once I saw this Chinese school's motto on TV, it was: "I want to be Number 1!".

If everybody is No. 1, who is No. 2?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rain in Shanghai

This is the No. 2 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,643,046 searches in one day.

"Rain" here does not pertain to the weather patter; it is the name of a hugely popular Korean pop star.

Rain shaking hand with the representative from the snack food manufacturer that he is endorsing. Guess you don't need me to point out which one is which.


This 25-year-old from Seoul is the king of R&B and hiphop dancing in Asia right now. Yes, he is another so-called "Korean Wave" phenomenon. Recently he has decided to establish his own company. In other words, he will not have to split all these handsome endorsement fees with anyone anymore. No information on this particular endorsement contract, but Rain is currently estimated to worth 200,000,000 RMB.

"The Way To Avoid The Sun" by Rain



The TIME 100 -- Are They Worthy?

K-Pop Star Rain Make Time Magazine

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Panda" Virus

This is the No. 1 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,644,946 searches in one day.

On Monday, Li Jun, the creator of the infamous "Panda Burning Joss Sticks" (熊猫烧香) computer virus, was sentenced to fours years in jail; three other defendants were sentenced to between one year and two and a half years in jail for spreading the virus.

Li Jun


The virus was named so because the infected computer would display a picture of a panda holding three joss sticks in the style of traditional incense offering at Buddhist and Taoist temples. Li Jun made 145,149 RMB from selling the virus on-line. The purchasers of the virus would use it to steal people's QQ accounts as well as on-line gaming accounts, then they could sell these accounts for a profit. Additionally, they would use the infected "zombie computers" to form a Botnet to increase the traffic of certain websites.

According the Xinhua news, China is in urgent need of legislation on cybercrimes. More the 133,000 new viruses were detected in China in the first half of 2007 alone.


China jails creator of "panda" computer virus for fours years

"Panda Burning Joss Sticks" Virus Suspects Detained

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mayors On Buses

The is No. 3 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,610,776 searches in one day.


September 16 - 22 was China's first "Urban Public Transportation Week", 108 cities around the country participated in this act to clean up the air. To set a good example for the people, all government officials were supposed to use public transportation on the Car-Free Day.

Mayor of Chongquing Riding Bus To Work


According the the preliminary estimate, one Car-Free Day in China could potentially save 33,000,000 liters of fuel, eliminate 3000 tonnes of toxic emission and save hundreds of people from car accident related injuries/deaths.

However, netizens complained that these government officials were really just putting on a show. This show attracted a lot of media reporters who followed the officials onto the buses and subway, worsening the already overloaded transportation system.

Just another typical day in China


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Microsoft's Greater China Guy Quits

This is the No. 4 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,551,804 searches in one day.


On September 19, it was announced that Chen Yongzheng (陈永正), Chief Executive of Microsoft Corp's Greater China business, has resigned to join NBA China. Microsoft has now begun it's global search for Chen's replacement. In the meantime, Microsoft China R&D director Zhang Yaqin is acting as the interim CEO of the company.

The NBA is having high hopes for the Chinese market. There are 300 million basketball players in the country and it is the most popular sport among youths. Yao Ming, the top draft pick in 2002,  is basically deemed as a national hero.

There are rumors flying around regarding Chen's resignation although none has been confirmed. According to Chen himself, he just wanted a fresh challenge and NBA was really hard to pass.



Microsoft's China Boss Resigned to Head NBA in China

Microsoft Greater China CEO Resigns To Join The NBA

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worm Grass (aka Vegetable Caterpillar)

This is the newest and hottest item of speculation in China right now, guess how much it is worth: 300,000 RMB per kilogram (for your reference, I just checked the live gold price and it was about 174,400 RMB per kilo). This "worm grass" is worth 1.7 times the price of gold.

But what the heck is it?


I turned to my good friend Wikipedia:

"Caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis) is a species of parasitic fungus that grows on insect larvae from the genus Thitarodes. Its name is Chinese (dong chong xia cao 冬虫夏草) means "winter worm, summer grass".

"...The fungus invades the body of the Thitarodes caterpillars, eventually killing and mummifying it. The dark brown to black fruition body (or mushroom) emerges from the ground in spring or early summer..."

" highly prized by practitioners of Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine and traditional herbal Fold medicines, in which it is used as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for a variety of ailments, from fatigue to cancer. It is being regarded as having an excellent balance of yin and yang..."

I guess the magic word is "aphrodisiac" then.

Unfortunately, a trend like this in China will only lead to two things: one, the market will get flooded with fake worm grass and sooner or later someone is going to get really sick; two, the suppliers will just harvest the plant like crazy thereby disturbing the ecosystem of the Tibetan highlands, the place where worm grass is found. Apparently this is already happening, the overall production volume of worm grass is now 3.5% of that 25 years ago, and there is 61500 square kilometers of soil erosion around the Yarlung Tsangpo River (Brahmaputra River's upstream in Tibet).



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beauty At The Shaolin Temple

This is the No. 5 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,522,999 searches in one day.

The 36 finalists of the 2007 Global Kung-fu (Chinese Martial Art) Star Competitions finished their 1-week training at the Shaolin Temple, the Mecca of Chinese Kung-fu,  yesterday. Female finalists complained to the media that they had more barriers to overcome than the guys because the monks were avoiding them. Well, monks ARE monks, you know. They have rules to follow.

The 9 Female Finalists


To avoid touching the girls, the Shaolin masters would stand several feet away and just point with their fingers to direct them during training; with the male students, the masters were more comfortable with all the hitting, bending, kicking and twisting to correct their posture, like real Kung-fu training should be.

The Global Kung-fu Star Competition is a reality TV show jointly held by the Shaolin Temple, Shenzhen Satellite TV and Hong Kong's TVB. I managed to find 2 interesting clips about the game on YouTube. The first one is the part of the selection game for the HK region; the second one, quite an interesting one, is an overview of last year's game put together by the first runner-up, 2006, an American called Philip Sahagun. Enjoy!



More Reading:

Global Kung Fu Star TV Competition Starts

Monday, September 17, 2007

College Girls Find Military Training Officers Hot

This is No. 8 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,487,401 searches in one day.

As a college freshman in China, your first lesson of any kind is not an orientation of the campus or a welcoming party organized by well-funded clubs where you can drink beer for free, it is a several-week-long military boot camp that is supposed to "inspire patriotism, revolutionary heroism and the spirit of teamwork". And yes, it is compulsory for both boys and girls.

The Opening Ceremony for the boot camp at one college


And boys


The thing is, the training officers are real PLA soldiers who are not a lot older than these kids, and currently there is a tendency for girls at the camp to fall in love with the manly and uniformed training officers. After weeks of sweat and tears, some girls feel that the officers are their ideal lovers and exchange phone numbers and QQ (Chinese instant messenger)usernames with them just like they would with friends. They cry like crazy on the last day of the camp and run after the officers' cars as they drive away from the camp.

As a preventative measure, some colleges are making new rules for the students. They are required to "act cultured" (you hear this phrase a lot in China) and will be banned from crying and exchanging QQ and phone numbers with the officers when the camp finishes.

Tearful boot camp trainees and their idol


More on military training for kids in China:

Chinese Kids Undergo Required Military Training

Chinese Government Imposes Nationwide Military Training For Students.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Benz May Sue Chinese Copycat

This is the hottest topic on the Daqi forum today.

In short, Mercedes-Bens is considering legal action against the Chinese automaker Shuanghuan because the "Little Noble", a new microcar by Shuanghuan, bears more than just coincidental resemblance to SmartForTwo. Judge for yourself from the pix below:

Shuanghuan's Little Noble

Mercedes-Benz' SmartForTwo

The Little Noble will be priced around 7,000 Euros if it goes to market in Germany, and this new low price is probably gonna shake up the market quite a bit.

Incidentally, Little Noble is not the only copycat Shuanghuan has, apparently it's "CEO" looks a lot like BMW's X5.

Shuanghuan's CEO

BMW's X5

Shuanghuan seems very comfortable with all these accusations, afterall, it went from a little nobody to a big name overnight due to another copycat related legal suit with Honda. Moreover, that culprit copycat car became a huge seller, totaling 200,000,000 RMB in sales dollars. Any publicity is good publicity, it seems Shuanghuan is getting another push from Mercedes this time. One German distributor who is considering selling Little Noble said that all this criticism is helping a great deal by putting it into the same class with Mercedes and BMW.

Shuanghuan's "own self-designed" Logo

Haha! This reminds me of another picture I came across the other day: Fuwa (mascots for the Beijing Olympics) and Keroro Platoon.


Coincidence, coincidence!



Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shave off Your Hair To Learn Crazy English

This is the No.7 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,441,775 searches in one day.

It is not common for the same person to make it to the top 10 keyword on two consecutive days, but Li Yang did it (yesterday's blog entry about Li Yang).

This time, he was doing a promo talk at one college in Wuhan. During this talk on 12th September, he told the students of that college that they needed determination to learn English. Then, he asked if any girl would show her determination by shaving off her hair completely. One girl out of the 4000 present raised her hand, and Li Yang signed a "contract" with her to promise that if she would really do it, then he would take her in as his disciple.

The girl changed her mind after she went home because her parents didn't like that idea.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Crazy English Made Students Kowtow

This is the third most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,351,266 in one day.


Last week, Li Yang, the guy who started "Crazy English" gave a one-hour English training session followed by an "inspiring" speech at a high school in Inner Mongolia, and he told these 3000 kids to show their gratitude to their teachers by kneeling down to perform a "kowtow". This of course attracted a lot of negative comments, although some students claimed that they were genuinely moved and they kowtowed willingly.

(same source)

"Crazy English" is Li Yang's own invention. He believes that anyone can learn English well by shouting out aloud. He advises his students to go to the back alley, the roof or wherever to shout. He also has "rallies" where thousands of people gather to listen to his speeches and yell out together with exaggerated hand gestures that he believes can help with the pronunciation. These rallies are really scary in my opinion, they are almost like brain-washing cult gatherings or mega pyramid scheme information sessions. I really don't understand the big deal with learning English. People talk as if speaking good English can change the future.



Monday, September 10, 2007

Ang Lee Wins Again

This is the second most searched keyword on
Yahoo China today, 1,347,203 searches in one day.


The Taiwanese director took home yet another golden lion from the Venice Film Festival, second one within three years, a record that is hard to break.

"Lust, Caution" (blog entry) won the Best Film Award. Ang Lee said he actually felt a little bad since it is the rule of the Festival that once a movie has won the Best Film, the actors in the movie are automatically excluded from their respective categories. Ang Lee mentioned that he was especially impressed by Tang Wei's performance in "Lust, Caution". Tang had to bare quite a lot of skin and perform physically challenging love scenes. The movie has been rated NC-17 in the States and hence making it's Oscar chance slim, but Ang Lee doesn't seem to be too worried about it.

"Lust, Caution" Trailer


Interestingly, apparently Ang Lee did consider Zhang Ziyi (blog entry) for the role, but he thought he needed someone a lot younger and fresher than Zhang, and he chose Tang Wei the newbie. Later on Lee found out that Zhang is actually just one year older. Zhang complained about it when she called Ang Lee to congratulate him after the ceremony.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hottest New Chinese Idol

"Chen Chusheng" (陈楚生) is the most used search keyword on today, 215,481 searches in one day.

If you are familiar with the whole "Super Girl" thing or read the blog entry on Li Yuchuan, then you will get this right away : Chen is Li's male counterpart. For those who are not familiar with "Super Girl", it is like American Idol but all contestants are girls.

Like Li Yuchuan, Chen became the newest overnight reality TV success after winning the "Super Boy" singing contest held by Hunan TV at the end of July this year. This 26 year-old singer from Sanya, Hainan already got several endorsement contracts (soft drinks and electronics) within one week of the conclusion of the TV show. Each of these contracts is estimated to worth millions of RMB, and of course more is coming. So if your company is considering getting this face to sell your products, act fast before his price goes up even higher. Just in case you want to find out how well he sings, here is a Youtube clip:


Super Boy Official Website

Friday, September 7, 2007

Free Samples Sites

This is the fastest rising search keyword on today.

Websites that distribute free samples are becoming popular in China, after all, who doesn't like freebies? Especially if the freebies are genuine products from big brands. Because the users have to register first so it also allows companies to give samples out to the desired demographics. However, the users do have to pay for the postage, so it's not really entirely free per se. Anyway, the idea is not that new.

What really surprised me was the web design of this top free samples site:

Finally, there is a website in China that's clean and uses lots of clear pictures and doesn't try to do too much. Although I still have problems with the font, it is such a big improvement from the usual wordiness and ugly color coordination. What's more, there is no flashing floating banners that follow you everywhere you scroll! Worth considering if you are an FMGC trying to break into China without a mega advertising budget.

Match Making Party

This is one of the most viewed news on today.

Last week, one lifestyle magazine that primarily targets young women held several outdoor match-making parties at the busiest shopping district in Shanghai, and it attracted 50 participants and thousands of onlookers.

One hopeful candidate feeding his target a piece of sushi as part of the match-making game.


Match-making is hardly new in China. It is also a really old-fashioned thing in a lot of countries such as Japan, Korea, India and many more. However, even nowadays, people sometimes just need a little bit of extra help, and match-making seems to be quite a popular thing especially if it's got a bit of glossy marketing spin to it, like this outdoor party/magazine promotion campaign. I kind of wonder if these people are genuine participants or they are models hired by the magazine because they are so much better looking than the average Shanghainese (well, the ones that I know of, but maybe my sample is not representative).

Another type of match-making party that's popular (but less fashionable) in China is classifieds-in-a-park. Pieces of paper with people's personal details are "aired" on strings like laundry and interested parties (usually parents) just shop around in the park. Much less interactive, well, it's not exactly a party.


In Japan, match-making parties are called 合コン(Gokon), and it seems to be a must for all university students. It's like a group date, so people are who shy or nervous can safely tag along more talkative friends to meet guys/girls. I guess it's also less of a commitment as it's not one on one.

Gokon Party in Japan


I once witnessed a Gokon party at an izakaya (居酒屋) in Roppongi (六本木). It was three guys and three girls. At the beginning they were all polite and reserved, as dinner went on and also with the help of alcohol, things started to get more heated. Eventually one girl was totally drunk and passed out in the lap of one of the guys. Not sure what happened after that, though.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reconstruction of the Fragrant Concubine

This is the No. 7 hottest keyword search on Yahoo China today, 1,246,859 searches in one day.

The Fragrant Concubine (香妃)was more of a legendary figure than a real person in the Chinese history. She was believed to be an Uyghur girl named Iparhan and was the grand-daughter of a local Muslim leader (the Uyghur are a Turkic people in Central Asia).  She was presented as a gift to the Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century. Qianlong was not only captivated by her exotic beauty, but he was even more interested in the mysterious fragrance emitted from her body.

Recently one forensic professor at the China Criminal Police University did a reconstruction of the Fragrant Concubine's face based on a photo of her remains (maybe he didn't have anything else better to do), and it instantly became a hot topic.


Many people are saying that the picture of the Fragrant Concubine looks a lot like Li Bingbing, one popular TV star; some say another TV star, Fan Bingbing looks more like her (it's a pure coincidence that they have the same given name).

Li Bingbing


Fan Bingbing

Personally I think the professor's work was more like a joke and shouldn't be taken seriously. He probably just did this for fun and it's of no academic value. However, it seems to have provided a lot of entertainment value for many people. I think both Li Bingbing and Fan Bingbing look a lot like the Fragrant Concubine based on the reconstruction picture, but the FC definitely wore less make-up back then.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hottest Salesman: "Boss Hou" (侯总)

"Boss Hou" (侯总) is the hottest salesman in China right now. People are finding his sales pitches on TV shopping channels so amusing that now he has become a new celebrity in both China and Taiwan. His fans wait in front of TV at late night to catch a glimpse of his performance.

Apparently "Boss Hou" used to be just one of the many salespeople on TV shopping channels in Taiwan. In 2001, one of the new shopping channels tested the luxury goods market with Rosdenton watches, and Hou sold 1000 watches within an hour. The TV channel was so impressed with the result that it decided to become a major shareholder of Rosdenton's distributor so that its watches can only appear on this particular shopping channel. Hou was made General Manager of the company.

"Boss Hou" selling "Rosdenton" gold watches for only 998 RMB!


Now Boss Hou has expanded his territory to China and has instantly became a huge hit. Mainlanders have never seen such an exaggerated way of selling expensive items. Usually, the salesperson of a luxury good will pretentiously create an elegant and romantic atmosphere, emphasizing how it's imported from Europe and the superb design. Hou does the opposite. He yells at the top of his voice and waves his arms to show how crazily cheap the product is. Then halfway through the show, he appears frustrated because the price is just too low. Towards the end of the show, he gets angry with the co-host because this other guy isn't talking fast enough and is taking up precious time of the audiences so that they are about to miss out on this great opportunity. Thumping his fist on the table he tells the other guy to shut up while looking like he is about to have a heart attack. Then he looks away angrily to let the co-host end the show. Unlike other salespeople, Hou never smiles. He is just too angry that everything he sells is always "below cost". How can you not buy?

A popular parody show in Taiwan does an imitation of "Boss Hou"



Monday, September 3, 2007

Lust, Caution (Se Jie)

This is the title of Ang Lee's newest movie, and it's also the second most talked about movie in China right now (the first being Jay Chou's Secret That I Can't Tell).


Poster of Lust, Caution


For details of the film, please visit:

The story is basically about a girl in WWII Shanghai trying to assassinate a Japanese collaborator by getting intimate with him first. However, she kind of falls in love with this bad guy in the process. The story is based on a short story written by the famous Chinese author Eileen Chang, and many say that the main character in the story is based on Chang herself. Chang had a tragic life. She lived in isolation in the U.S. in her final years and eventually died alone.

I have never read the original story so I don't know how much "lust" there is in the book. However, Ang Lee's silver screen adaptation seems to be a super steamy one based on the first media reports after the movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival a few days ago. Apparently the Tang wei (who plays the girl) bared it all(hair and all...) and Tony Leung (the bad guy) pretty much did the same (some of the reviews I read say that you can see his testicles in the movie...omg!). The film has so much sex (and very graphic, too) that it has been give an NC-17 (i.e. X-rate) rating in the States. Unfortunately for Ang Lee's fans in China, the movie will be edited to remove all the sex scenes to make it suitable for screening in China.



Note to self: The fashion style back then is just so cool! I love it!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Eight-year-old Girl Runs 3500 km To Beijing

Zhang Huimin is probably the most famous kid in China at this moment. She just finished her 3500 km run from Sanya, Hainan to Beijing. Hainan is the most southern province of China, and Beijing, well, is all the way up north. The state media said that she did this to celebrate the 2008 Beijing Olympics but at the same time this extraordinary performance also brought her father accusations of child abuse.

Zhang Huimin runs with her father following behind on a motorized bicycle


I find it extremely hard not to think this as child abuse. Apparently little Huimin gets up at 2:30 a.m. every morning and trains for several hours before school. Her mom was so fed up with the father's crazy training method that they have become separated. Huimin started her marathon training when she was just 3. Her father's plan? To make into the national professional team by the time when Huimin is 13 and compete in the 2016 Olympics.

A medical doctor has announced that Huimin is dangerously underweight for her age and one blood test revealed that her body showed various signs of fatigue and malnourishment.

The father's response to the accusations?

"She loves running. I didn't impose my will on her."

"It's worth paying the price and making sacrifices for the glory of the country."

Strange thing that he didn't mention fame and money, because apparently he is making his daughter practice her autographs at home.

More readings: