Posts tagged ‘Sina Weibo’


China’s Alibaba in ‘flying pig’ controversy – BBC News

A Chinese Muslim‘s call for e-commerce giant Alibaba to rename one of its services because it uses the word “pig” has sparked a backlash in China.

It all began when Alibaba changed the name of its popular travel booking app from Alitrip to one that means “Flying Pig” in Chinese. Its English name is Fliggy.

Over the weekend, Uighur businessman Adil Memettur criticised this decision on popular microblogging network Sina Weibo, where he has hundreds of thousands of followers.

He noted that the app is popular among minorities because it lets people whose names have unusual spellings make bookings.

“But now that Alitrip has changed its name to Flying Pig, I can only uninstall it, and maybe all my Muslim friends too, because the word “pig” is taboo to Muslims all over the world. Alibaba is an international corporation, could it take Muslim taboos into consideration?” he said.

Image copyrightSINA WEIBO / ADIL MEMETTUR. Mr Memettur is an Uighur Chinese who runs a cake business

His post quickly sparked condemnation and ridicule from other Chinese online, with some asking if this meant China had to expunge all references to pigs in popular culture and literature.

“We each have our own way of life; we do not force you to live according to our rules, but you cannot force us to change the law,” said Weibo user Fireflyinred.

Mr Memettur quickly took down the post and on Sunday night he posted an apology.

Alibaba told the BBC that they decided to rebrand the app to appeal to a younger demographic. “We embrace diversity and respect all creeds and religions. The name change is meant to reflect the demographic’s aspirations to pursue dreams, sit back and enjoy life,” said the spokesman.

The visceral pushback stems from the fact that the pig occupies an important place in Chinese culture.

Pork is not only a staple of Chinese cuisine – the government keeps a national reserve of pork in case of market shortages – but the pig is also celebrated in folklore and the Chinese zodiac.

Online, the reaction to Mr Memettur has been intense, often descending into derogatory comments and insulting jokes about Muslims and Uighur culture.

It has also highlighted how gaps in understanding between Muslim minorities and the Han Chinese majority can arise.

Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES – The Uighurs are one of China’s biggest Muslim minorities

Because of their relatively small numbers, concentrated mostly in the West, Muslims still do not figure largely in Chinese public discourse.

China’s 21 million Muslims, comprising minority ethnic groups such as the Huis and Uighurs, make up only 1.6% of the population, with the rest from the Han ethnic majority and they have mostly co-existed peacefully.

The western province of Xinjiang, home to many Chinese Uighurs, has seen unrest with residents saying they have been economically and culturally displaced by a growing influx of Han migrants. Violence there has been attributed by the authorities to Islamist militants and separatists – rights groups point to increasingly tight control by Beijing.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES- Xinjiang cities like Kashgar are home to Muslim minorities such as the Uighurs

In this instance some online, like blogger Han Dongyan, have called for respect and calm.”Don’t extend this to all Muslims… (Mr Memettur) has made a mistake and he can be criticised, but don’t respond to an extreme with another extreme and tar them all with the same brush, this is wrong too!” he wrote in one popular post.

Source: China’s Alibaba in ‘flying pig’ controversy – BBC News


Higher education: A matter of honours | The Economist

FINE porcelain, Chinese-landscape scrolls and calligraphy adorn the office of Shi Yigong, dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Little about his ornamentation hints at Mr Shi’s 18 years in America, where, like thousands of Chinese students, he decamped for graduate study in the early 1990s. Mr Shi eventually became a professor at Princeton University but he began to feel like a “bystander” as his native country started to prosper. In 2008, at the age of 40, he returned to his homeland. He was one of the most famous Chinese scholars to do so; an emblem for the government’s attempts to match its academic achievements to its economic ones.

Sending students abroad has been central to China’s efforts to improve its education since the late 1970s, when it began trying to repair the damage wrought by Mao’s destruction of the country’s academic institutions. More than 3m Chinese have gone overseas to study. Chinese youths make up over a fifth of all international students in higher education in the OECD, a club mostly of rich countries. More than a quarter of them are in America.

Every country sends out students. What makes China different is that most of these bright minds have stayed away. Only a third have come back, according to the Ministry of Education; fewer by some counts. A study this year by a scholar at America’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education found that 85% of those who gained their doctorate in America in 2006 were still there in 2011.

To lure experts to Chinese universities, the government has launched a series of schemes since the mid-1990s. These have offered some combination of a one-off bonus of up to 1m yuan ($160,000), promotion, an assured salary and a housing allowance or even a free apartment. Some of the best universities have built homes for academics to rent or buy at a discount. All are promised top-notch facilities. Many campuses, which were once spartan, now have swanky buildings (one of Tsinghua’s is pictured above). The programmes have also targeted non-Chinese. A “foreign expert thousand-talent scheme”, launched in 2011, has enticed around 200 people. Spending on universities has shot up, too: sixfold in 2001-11. The results have been striking. In 2005-2012 published research articles from higher-education institutions rose by 54%; patents granted went up eightfold.

But most universities still have far to go. Only two Chinese institutions number in the top 100 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University includes only 32 institutions from mainland China among the world’s 500 best. The government frets about the failure of a Chinese scholar ever to win a Nobel prize in science (although the country has a laureate for literature and an—unwelcome—winner in 2010 of the Nobel peace prize, Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned dissident).

via Higher education: A matter of honours | The Economist.


China Drafts a Law on Domestic Abuse – Businessweek

China’s government is seeking public input as it drafts a long overdue law to protect victims of domestic violence. In addition to shielding spouses from abusers, the law will address physical aggression against children and elders—all issues that are at once taboo and disturbingly common in modern China.

China Drafts a Law on Domestic Abuse

According to a 2011 study by the All China Women’s Federation, a quarter of women in China have been victims of some form of domestic violence. Yet for many years, spousal abuse was considered a private or family matter, making it difficult for victims to seek police intervention or professional counseling.

The problem of widespread domestic abuse first gained traction in Chinese news headlines in 2011 after Kim Lee, the American wife of a high-profile Chinese entrepreneur, posted photos of her badly bruised face on Weibo. She explained on the microblog that her husband, Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English language school, regularly hit her.

In 2013 the couple divorced, and Lee was awarded custody of their three children and 12 million yuan (nearly $2 million) in damages and compensation. Her decision to discuss the matter publicly helped ignite a national conversation.

According to Xinhua, the new “family abuse” law will require police to respond immediately to reports of domestic violence. It will also create mechanisms for victims to seek restraining orders against abusers. If a domestic violence case is heard in court, the draft law offers some guidance in sentencing, suggesting jail terms of up to seven years for serious offenders.

via China Drafts a Law on Domestic Abuse – Businessweek.


China’s ‘Birthplace of Kung Fu’ Hopes to Train CEOs to Meditate – Businessweek

The ancient Shaolin Temple, perched on a leafy mountaintop in eastern China, is widely recognized as the birthplace of kung fu. For at least 1,500 years, its resident monks have preserved the physical and psychological training regimen of the legendary martial work. Now they’re trying to master commercial arts, too.

A monk practicing kung fu at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, China

The temple is hiring a media director and social media editor, according to state-run Chinese newswire Xinhua. “The need arises from an internationalizing Shaolin,” a monk who works for the temple’s “Intangible Assets Management Center” told the newswire. The ideal candidate would be versed in China’s fast-growing social media platforms, especially Twitter (TWTR)-like Sina Weibo (SINA), as well as fluent in both Mandarin and English.

Shaolin already offers high-end, live-in meditation courses for chief executive officers willing to live on the mountain as martial arts apprentices for a month, as China Daily recently reported. For those with less time to spare, one-time sit-down sessions with the temple’s abbot are also available. Earlier this year, members of the elite China Entrepreneurs Club attended a private conference at the temple with the theme “self cultivation of entrepreneurs.”

Last year, about 800 foreign executives also came to study and train on the mountain. A marketing manager from Greece who came to Shaolin for a two-week course told the newspaper: “In business, you have to be flexible; you have to find new paths and change. You have to see a crisis and avoid it. Kung fu teaches you to be fluid, like water, because everything in kung fu flows, and stagnation is bad.”

Once its social media marketing team is in place, Shaolin hopes to expand outreach to overseas business leaders who seek to cultivate kung fu mindfulness. Its courses are a relative bargain compared to executive MBA programs, ranging from $800 to $10,000.

via China’s ‘Birthplace of Kung Fu’ Hopes to Train CEOs to Meditate – Businessweek.


In China, Another Argument for Peeing in Public – China Real Time Report – WSJ

While peeing in public may be frowned upon in many places, mainlanders apparently take a slightly more tolerant attitude to the practice. In Hong Kong, this cultural clash has led to a number of altercations after mainland parents let their children relieve themselves in the territory’s streets.

But at times, evacuating one’s bladder in public apparently can have its upside.

According to local media in the southwestern city of Chengdu (in Chinese), there is at least one young man who now believes that when the call of nature is heard, just go with the flow.

Xu Yuanguang was riding home from work on his motorcycle last week, the Chengdu Business News reports (in Chinese), when he felt a sudden urge. The 29-year-old shop employee pulled off the road on the outskirts of Chengdu and took  aim at a nearby pile of dirt.

After completing his task, he spotted a colorful object that had been uncovered by the sudden flow. Intrigued, he dug it out, only to find a terracotta figurine.

He and co-worker Yi Zhimin – who had been riding with him — reported the find to the local Bureau of Cultural Relics.

via In China, Another Argument for Peeing in Public – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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The Real China Housing Collapse: ‘Vintage’ Buildings – China Real Time Report – WSJ

They don’t build ‘em like they used to, and when it comes to housing in China, that’s probably a good thing.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, the price behind the breakneck pace of China’s construction boom since the reform and opening is becoming clear, with buildings collapses frequently involving those constructed in the 1980s and ‘90s.

That was evident last week, when a five-story residential building constructed in 1994 collapsed in Fenghua in coastal Zhejiang province, killing one person and burying several others in the rubble.

Only an eyebrow-raising 22% of China’s housing stock was built before 2000. But its recent vintage doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll last very long: According to an unnamed government official Xinhua cited this week, China’s buildings are generally expected to last for just 25 to 30 years. The reason is poor quality of construction and design, Xinhua said, adding that many seismically unsafe buildings from the ‘80s and ‘90s in the country still exist.

As of Tuesday afternoon, some 1.6 million comments were posted on Weibo about the Zhejiang collapse, with most microbloggers expressing astonishment and fear while blaming local authorities and developers.

“Developers run completely rampant over us,” wrote one user. “Where can ordinary people go to seek justice? Don’t tell me authorities just wait until there’s an accident to start paying attention?”

“In other countries, an 8.0 quake only kills eight people,” wrote another. “Our houses collapses even on days without a hint of trouble.”

At least six multiple-story buildings have collapsed in China since 2009—including one in Shanghai under construction that bizarrely toppled over virtually intact—though not all have caused casualties. In one particularly deadly 2009 incident, 17 people were killed after a two-story building constructed in the 1980s collapsed in Hebei after a heavy rain, Xinhua reported (in Chinese).

via The Real China Housing Collapse: ‘Vintage’ Buildings – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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Chinese criticize state firm behind Three Gorges dam over graft probe | Reuters

A scathing report on corruption at the company that built China’s $59-billion Three Gorges dam, the world’s biggest hydropower scheme, has reignited public anger over a project funded through a special levy paid by all citizens.

Ships sail on the Yangtze River near Badong, 100km (62 miles) from the Three Gorges dam in Hubei province August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The report by the ruling Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog last week found that some officials at the Three Gorges Corporation, set up in 1993 to run the scheme, were guilty of nepotism, shady property deals and dodgy bidding procedures.

Between 1992 and 2009, all citizens had to pay a levy built into power prices across China to channel money to the dam’s construction, a project overshadowed by compulsory relocations of residents and environmental concerns.

“The relatives and friends of some leaders interfered with construction projects, certain bidding was conducted secretly … and some leaders illicitly occupied multiple apartments,” the graft watchdog said on its website(

The Three Gorges Corporation published a statement on its website on Tuesday saying it would look into the issues the probe raised, and strictly punish any corrupt conduct and violations of the law and party discipline.

The accusations – made as part of President Xi Jinping‘s crackdown on deep-rooted corruption – have spread rapidly across China’s popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, and some of China’s more outspoken newspapers have weighed in too.

via Chinese criticize state firm behind Three Gorges dam over graft probe | Reuters.

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E-Commerce Gives a Lift to China’s Rural Farmers – Businessweek

A recent series of food safety scandals has created a hunger in China’s big cities for natural or traditionally grown food, absent buckets of fertilizer and pesticide. Two beneficiaries of this new market are Li Chengcai, 83, and his wife, 76-year-old Cheng Youfang, who grow white radishes in fields shadowed by the Yellow Mountain range. They get orders online from distant urban customers willing to pay more for flavorful, safe food.

E-Commerce Gives a Lift to China's Rural Farmers

The couple lives in Bishan, a village of 2,800 residents, in an old stone home on a narrow street lined with crumbling mansions. Rich merchants built the homes more than a century ago when the village, in southern Anhui province, was in its heyday. Many villagers, including their four daughters, have left for the cities. In 2011, China’s population was more than half urban for the first time. But Li and Cheng, who are illiterate and speak only their local dialect, say they have no plans to leave. Fortunately, a new opportunity has come to them—as it may to many more farmers in the next few years.

About a year ago, Zhang Yu, a 26-year-old “young village official”—that’s her actual title—knocked on Li’s door. In the summer of 2012, as national newspapers carried heated debates about genetically modified organisms and food safety, Zhang and a few other young colleagues had an idea. In their capacity as village officials they launched an account on Sina Weibo, a microblogging site, to post items about the fresh, traditionally grown produce of the Yellow Mountain region. Soon afterward they began an online store through Alibaba Group’s platform to connect local farmers with urban buyers. The first order, for 5 pounds of sweet corn, came from a resident of the wealthy port city of Dalian.

via E-Commerce Gives a Lift to China’s Rural Farmers – Businessweek.

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The internet: From Weibo to WeChat | The Economist

WHEN Luo Changping, an investigative journalist, tried on November 22nd to post the latest chapter of his big scoop on WeChat, a popular Chinese mobile messaging service, censors blocked it. But he was able to work round them. In a follow-up message he told his subscribers they could send him the words “Chapter Seventeen”; users who did so automatically received the post on their mobile phones, uncensored.

WeChat, or Weixin in Chinese, is known mostly for private chatting and innocuous photo-sharing among small circles of friends. With more than 270m active users, it has become the star product from Tencent, an internet conglomerate. Some have compared it to WhatsApp, an American messaging service. More quietly, it has become the preferred medium for provocative online discussion—the latest move in China’s cat-and-mouse game of internet expression and censorship.


Mr Luo began posting his serialised stories on WeChat in May. They related how he had exposed the alleged corruption of Liu Tienan, a senior economic official. He had tried tweeting them on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog on which he had accused Mr Liu of corruption months earlier, but internet censors blocked him from doing so: hence his switch to WeChat. Though his initial attempts there were also blocked, the loophole that enabled him to send out the file is typical of WeChat’s more relaxed approach to censorship.

A WeChat account works much less publicly than accounts on microblogs (of which Sina Weibo is the most prominent). Anyone using Sina Weibo can see almost anyone else’s tweets and forward them on, meaning a single tweet can spread very quickly. On WeChat, it is usually only subscribers to a public account who will see a post (though such posts may also be viewed on a separate web page), and if a subscriber forwards a post, only that subscriber’s circle of friends see it. Its non-public accounts are even less open. Information on WeChat spreads at such a slow burn that authorities feel they have more control over it. Also in contrast to microblogs, many types of public account (like Mr Luo’s) can send out only one post to subscribers a day, making them much easier for authorities to monitor.

Mr Luo does not always have problems sending out his stories on WeChat and, since switching to the service, he has posted the equivalent of a blog post every week or two, and built a following of more than 60,000—“higher than the actual subscription figure of many Chinese magazines”, he says. WeChat is now his prime delivery platform for newsy titbits, including sensitive information that would be censored more rigorously on microblogs. (He has not published for Caijing magazine, his former employer, since being transferred in November to a non-reporting position at an affiliated research institute.) Meanwhile, he makes much less use of his Sina Weibo account, even though it has more than four times as many followers: “The ground for public opinion has begun to shift toward WeChat,” he says.

The rise of WeChat is a business phenomenon in its own right (see article). But it is also a measure of how adaptive and resilient China’s political and social discourse has become—almost as adaptive as the censorship regime that seeks to contain it. Recently a number of public intellectuals have lamented the decline of meaningful discussion on weibo. The microblogs were full of user-led activism in 2012 but, starting in 2013, officials have dramatically escalated their efforts to control them. Propaganda outlets have intensified attacks on the spread of rumours online, authorities browbeat online celebrities to be “more responsible” (at least two have been arrested on unrelated charges), and microbloggers can now be jailed for up to three years for tweeting false information that is forwarded 500 times or viewed 5,000 times. President Xi Jinping, in a speech to party leaders in August, said that the internet was the prime battleground in the fight over public opinion, and that officials must seize control of it.

via The internet: From Weibo to WeChat | The Economist.

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Chinese Director Zhang Yimou Fined $1.2 Million for Violating One-Child Policy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese Internet users often bemoan the fact that China’s wealthy are able to easily skirt the country’s one-child policy by simply paying the fines. But local officials appear to be making a point when it comes to one high-profile offender.

Chinese film director Zhang Yimou and his wife , Chen Ting, were fined 7.48 million yuan ($1.2 million) by the family planning bureau of Binhu district in the eastern city of Wuxi for having three children, the district government said on its verified account on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

The district government said the fine was based on Ms. Chen and Mr. Zhang’s personal income in each of the three years before their children were born (2000, 2003 and 2005)—a total of 3.58 million yuan ($591,000). Aside from exceeding family planning limits, the couple wasn’t married at the time of the births, according to the family-planning bureau.

via Chinese Director Zhang Yimou Fined $1.2 Million for Violating One-Child Policy – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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