Candidates for this year’s Miss Korea all look “the same.”
Stepping off a plane in Moscow, in a classic black peacoat and a simple unbranded black handbag, Peng Liyuan, China’s new first lady, made her first public appearance on Friday after her husband Xi Jinping took office.
Photos of her glamorous looks during the couple’s first foreign trip have been making waves on the Chinese Internet. Netizens flocked to cheer at her beauty and elegance. As netizen 阳光明媚的时候 commented: “Our first lady is so pretty, elegant and magnanimous. I feel proud.”
In response to a post in which Peng Liyuan was put in comparison with all of China’s past first ladies, including Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, netizen 宝贝亲亲笑嘻嘻 sighed: “Finally a presentable first lady, full of elegance.”
Such sentiment that Peng is the best first lady so far is widely shared among netizens. Like netizen 情意绵绵花仙子 commented: “She is the most beautiful first lady since PRC was founded. Hope she can bring good luck to the Chinese people.” 麻利杂高 echoed: “She’s got charisma. The first out of all China’s past first ladies.”
Peng’s popularity isn’t for nothing. She has been a popular singer in China since early 80s. People know her name way before they know who Xi Jinping is. Besides her apparent talent in singing, she’s also known for being low-key and easy-going.
Days before her Friday trip to Moscow, one of her early interviews in 1999 with Phoenix TV’s popular talk show Behind the Headlines with Wentao also went viral. In the interview, she described herself as a tradition wife, loving to cook and take care of housework. And probably the most interesting part to many Chinese netizens, in response to a question regarding her husband, she said: “ I’m in the marriage for more than 10 years…and it’s been full of happiness.”
It’s not very common for China’s top officials to show their human side in public. In fact, very rare. Their family life, in particular, is something that has always been kept away from public attention. Sometimes, names of top officials’ family members are even sensitive words subject to censorship. Many of China’s past first ladies never made public appearance except for in official trips. So…image how netizens are thrilled to see Peng publicly showed her affection for Xi Jinping. People simply love their love story.
But online chatter wasn’t all about Peng’s looks. 张欣, China’s real estate mogul, commented: “People have only good words to say about the current first lady, from media to netizens. The role of first lady in foreign policy is hard to ignore.”
In fact, there seems to be this fear that netizens’ swoon may be too much of a sexist gaze that her more important role as a first lady may get overlooked. Netizen 大魔王的曉允 asked: “What a first lady’s appearance has to do with her husband’s ability to run the country? And what a woman’s look has to do with a country’s development?”
假装在纽约, a celebrity on Weibo, China’s Twitter, commented: “Personally, I like her. But I also think that there needs to be a line. At least, we should stand upright and admire, not crouch and worship. At least, we should keep in mind very clearly that apart from showing her elegance, Peng and Xi besides her have more important responsibilities. Let’s save the applaud until after they show us their accomplishments.”
假装在纽约 wasn’t alone in having higher expectations of Peng in her new role. Netizen 手捧着你的清香 commented: “Beautiful looks don’t mean beautiful deeds. Please show us what she can do.” Another netizen 喔噢噢-是天屎-是天使 commented: “She is prettier than all the past first ladies. So what? I’m waiting to see what she’s able to do that can bring us real benefits.”
However, to show the Chinese people what she is capable of doing may not be a direction that Peng wants to take. For one thing, throughout the country’s several thousand years of history, the fear that an emperor’s wife would interfere with politics and thus ruin the country never disappeared – women, especially emperors’s wives, have no role in politics. For another, most people in China still remember very well what happened the last time when a first lady tried to show her capability – Jiang Qing, wife of Mao, led the “Gang of Four” and almost turned the whole country over during the notorious Cultural Revolution.
Peng’s journey has just started, and it will surely be an exciting one, for both herself and the onlooking Chinese people.
On March 1, China’s State Council unveiled a set of policies designed to cool down the country’s housing market. One of the new rules slapped a compulsory 20% income tax on home sellers. The new policies were met with a lot of skepticism and criticism, most of which speculated that they will further drive up housing prices in China.
Another thing, and probably the most unexpected thing, that the new policies are also likely to drive up is China’s divorce rate. Why? Because a fake divorce can potentially save a family the 20% income tax on property sales.
Only one day after the new rules were announced, the following strategy to avoid the tax started to be widely circulated on the Chinese Internet:
- The seller couple files for divorce. The seller husband gets the house that the couple intends to sell.
- The buyer couple files for divorce. The buyer husband gets the house that the couple owns.
- The seller husband marries the buyer wife. Now the house (that the seller family intends to sell and the buyer family intends to buy) becomes a shared property.
- The seller husband and the buyer wife file for divorce. The buyer wife gets the house.
- Both the seller family and the buyer family re-marry their original spouses.
Three divorces and no property-sale tax! And this is not just another sarcastic joke from cynical Chinese netizens. According to a report by Xian Dai Kuai Bao (a Nanjing newspaper under Xinhua News), 294 couples filed for divorce in Nanjing on March 4, more than twice as many as the usual number.
Director Xia at the marriage registry in Gulou District, Nanjing, thus told the journalists: “The couples [who are filing for divorce] seemed to be in a rush, urging the staff to be faster. Some of them were very candid. They said that they wanted a divorce only because of house.”
Xia said that many couples asked for paper work to prove their “legally single” status immediately after they registered for a divorce. The move, to Xia, is apparently for house sales/purchase.
In 2013, vows at a Chinese wedding should read like this:
“- Would you take this woman to be your wife? Love her and cherish her, no matter poor or rich, in sickness or in health, as long as you both shall live. Never part with her and be loyal to her even if the two of you have to divorce, marry others and re-unite for the purchase of a second-handed house.
- Yes, I do.”
Faced with overwhelming questions and criticism, Jiang Weixin, Minister of China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, responded: “The policies have just been released. Let’s give it a try for now.”
Alibaba Group, China’s biggest e-tailing company that manages Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba, compiled a nice infograhic summarizing the online shopping scene in China. Some key takeaways:
It’s another heavy smog day in Beijing, and the Chinese government finally decided to do something about it – to find PM 2.5 a proper Chinese name.
PM 2.5 means particulates or particulate matters smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (about 0.0001 inches). PM 2.5, though a buzz word, has never been given an official Chinese name; and that’s unacceptable. For the Chinese government to effectively manage PM 2.5 (or anything really), it, of course, needs to be talked about in Chinese first.
On February 27, the Committee held a special seminar to discuss how to name PM 2.5 in Chinese. According to Wu Rongsheng, another member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, they aim to find a proper Chinese term that is scientific, easy to understand and at the same time applicable in many circumstances. Chinese netizens, probably the group who have mentioned the term the most, have some pretty good suggestions.
“Toxic Dust,” “Fine Dust,” “Fine Suspended Particle,” “Floating Smog 2.5,” “Lung-invasive Dust”
“Breathing Pain,” “Life 25% Shorter Index,” “Standing Right in Front of You But You Cannot See Me Index”
“Shitizen 250” – PM is the initials of Pi Min (屁民) which, in Chinese, means citizens who have been treated by their government like shit; and 250 is a slang in Chinese for the dumb and stupid.
“Happiness Index”- because with this name, the Chinese government is able to claim another “world’s NO. 1”.
“Happy Particles with Chinese Characteristics”
“Cheat the People 2.5”
“National Secret” – Background: last week, China Environmental Bureau refused to dislocate soil pollution data in the country, saying the information is state secret.
“GDP Chain Index”
Want a new hair cut for the coming spring? Have a hard time deciding on a new style? North Korean government has you covered. Men and women in North Korea are encouraged to choose from one of the 18 female hair styles and 10 male hair styles recommended by their government. [Pictures from Chinanews.com]
You are supposed to easily tell whether a North Korean woman is married or single by simply looking at her hair style. But of course, as officially recommended hair styles, they have much mightier use - to guard against the decadent Western cultures.
The move reminds many in China of their own “good old days” when everybody was dressed in either blue or green uniforms, holding a little red book in hands. But as many Chinese netizens pointed out, North Korea’s sexy leader Kim Jong-Un wears none of these hair styles.
Below is one of the most-shared pictures on China’s leading microblogging service, Sina Weibo, for the past 24 hours. Enjoy your one-day trip in Beijing!
Some mid-week fun. A viral story today on both Renren, China’s Facebook clone, and Weibo, China’s leading microblogging service, has to do with a job that may be the envy of many Chinese young guys – police porn examiner. They are technically police, but their sole job, as the original news article indicates, is to screen porn materials and distinguish pornography from non-pornography content.
The main story of the news article is about how local police at Peixian, Jiangsu province, has successfully smashed the biggest porn DVD wholesale retailer in Jiangsu province and its surrounding areas – 19 stores were closed, 25 people arrested and more than 40,000 porn DVDs confiscated.
The news itself has nothing to be surprised about because “anti-yellow campaigns” are pretty common in China. Yellow, in this case, means “pornographic.” The targets of anti-yellow campaigns are usually porn materials and commercial sex, which are deemed to be morally decadent and socially undesirable.
What caught Chinese netizens’ attention is the last paragraph of the article:
“According to local police at Peixian. Over 40k porn DVDs were confiscated. Four porn examiners at Peixian police department spent more than a month to finish screening all of them.”
Result of the investigation? “Despite a few unreadable ones due to abrasion, most are determined to be porn DVDs.”
And don’t think porn examiners are an easy job. According to Sichuan Mobile Newspaperwho verified the existence of porn examiners with local police at Chengdu, Chengdu police department also has police officers who are responsible for screening porn materials. To be a porn examiner, one has to be an “outstanding, well-behaved and highly politically-sensitive” police officer who “won’t have any problems after watching porn materials.”