Entertainment

People wearing face masks walk out of a subway station during morning rush hour in Beijing, China, 26 April 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Patriotism has become a commodity on Chinese social media

Chinese internet celebrities have landed in hot water since social media platforms began displaying the IP addresses of posts by verified accounts. Netizens are crying foul as the locations of these individuals have potentially exposed the deception and falsehoods in their content and “patriotic” personae. Is this the end for the “patriotic Big Vs”?
A girl wearing a costume of Netflix series Squid Game poses for photographs in front of a giant doll named 'Younghee' from the series on display at a park in Seoul, South Korea, 26 October 2021. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Lessons from Squid Game: Would you be slapped for US$10,000?

Art historian Chiang Hsun counts the ways that the hit Korean drama series Squid Game puts humanity to shame. The rich and powerful exploit the weaknesses of the poor while the ordinary man is given a choice but can’t help but choose the wrong choice each time. Life is one reckless gamble we willingly take, all for the chance of living a dream.
People walk through wet streets after a morning snow storm in Manhattan on 7 January 2022 in New York City, US. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Why the Americans know China better than the Chinese know the US

The belief that the Chinese know far more about America than Americans know about China is a misconception. In the age of globalisation and the internet, a knowledge asymmetry actually exists between the Chinese and the Americans — middle class Americans seem to have an understanding of Chinese culture, history and system based on rigorous academic research and analysis, but the Chinese lack the same level of understanding of the Americans. US academic Wu Guo shares his views on why the “knowledge deficit” exists in China.
The Chinese national flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, China, on 4 February 2022. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

Can socialist China change society's value orientation and triumph over the ills of capitalism?

An overhaul in its social value orientation is needed if China is to tackle the pressures on employment and social structures that the digital economy, artificial intelligence and smart automation will bring. Essentially, it should root out casino capitalism and the related social ills of “winner takes all”, “get rich quick”, “lying flat” and envy that have seeped into society. The Chinese Communist Party is making an effort but it will not be easy to abandon a purely material approach and prize other values that will raise the quality of life and elevate a civilisation.
Everyday life through the eyes of secret agents in spy drama Enemy. (Enemy official Weibo)

Mainland Chinese TV drama sparks talk of ‘Taiwan spies’

China's new TV show Enemy tells the story of a spy couple from Taiwan living in mainland China. The drama has won accolades and fans not so much for spy intrigue per se, but the realistic portrayal of everyday life in mainland China. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at how reel life mirrors real life and the ongoing tensions in cross-strait relations.
This picture taken on 2 September 2021 shows a women looking at movie advertisements at a cinema in Hong Kong. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP)

From Hong Kong movies to Greater Bay Area movies: A new Hollywood of the East in making?

Over the past two years, the nine cities (Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, Zhongshan and Zhuhai) and two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau) of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) have ramped up efforts and combined resources to build a credible GBA Chinese film industry. The authorities aim to leverage the experience and expertise of the Hong Kong film and television industry in its heyday in creating a new paradigm for future Chinese movies. Indeed, many Hong Kong directors such as Tsui Hark have joined the ranks of those who are making this a reality. Zaobao journalist Zeng Shi notes that the GBA has policy support and capital, but can this nascent film industry make good productions and develop a strong identity of its own?
Two women participate in a livestreaming e-commerce contest in Anhui, China, 19 October 2021. (CNS)

Why half of Chinese youths want to be an influencer

Recently, an influencer from Zhengzhou in China reportedly repaid about six million RMB in back taxes, prompting people to question how much influencers or internet celebrities actually make. Do all influencers earn top dollar? Media commentator Yuan Guobao looks into the highs and lows of this volatile industry.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for a ceremony at the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square to mark Martyrs' Day, in Beijing, China, 30 September 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Is Xi Jinping really going back to Maoism?

Some analyses have sounded the alarm of China lurching to the left in a marked return to Maoism. On closer examination, says Loro Horta, China’s recent clampdowns on capital are rational and not exactly ideologically driven. Issues facing China, such as the need to tackle rising inequality, affect the ruling party’s legitimacy and longevity. These concerns may have a strong push effect on the authorities. In fact, rather than a reversion to Maoism, the Xi government seems to be embracing Confucianism as a basis to enforce social order and norms, just as it derides “evil fan culture” as a means to keep a tight rein on social control.
This handout image courtesy of Netflix shows a scene from season one of South Korea's Squid Game. (Youngkyu Park/Netflix/AFP)

Does China need its own Squid Game?

Despite Netflix not being in the China market, Chinese viewers have still managed to watch the global hit show Squid Game, prompting questions on whether China can come up with its own global hit. It is not so much a question of box office ticket sales or viewership revenue, but the gains of soft power and cultural diplomacy that can be reaped. What are China’s barriers to creating global hits?