Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Eat Worms To Look Pretty

This is the No. 5 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 2,374,530 searches in one day.


Recently some "OLs" (office ladies) in Beijing have got themselves into a habit of eating worms.

Worms are a legitimate dish in many of the less mainstream cuisines such as Yunnan food. Dishes such as deep fried locus and sweet and sour butterfly cocoons are common dinner table items for the Gelao people in Yunnan. Thanks to this new trend, some of the Yunnanese restaurants in Beijing are packed on the weekends with young OLs and models who are hoping that the nutrients in the worms can bring them beauty. One restaurant manager said: "we consume hundreds of kilos of worms per week now, and we have to have the worms shipped over from Yunnan almost every two days to meet the demand."

According to a report produced by a research institute in Yunnan, these worms do contain high levels of amino acids, fatty acids, trace minerals and vitamins. However, because they get deep fried in the restaurants, they may still not be too good for your health.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Starting Salary For College Graduates

This is the 10th most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 2,321,390 searches in one day. Recently a survey that polled graduates of 89 colleges in China to rank their starting salaries after graduation. This survey result initiated waves of heated discussion (especially among the students) on the internet.

The salary is in RMB per month. Here are the top 10:

No.1 大连外国语学院  5050 RMB

(Dalian University of Foreign Languages)

No.2 电子科技大学 4900 RMB

(University of Electronic Science and Technology of China)

No.3 中央财经大学 3916 RMB

(Central University of Finance and Economics)

No.4 中央戏剧学院 3875 RMB

(The Central Academy of Drama)

No.5 复旦大学 3863 RMB

(Fudan University)

No.6 北京外国语大学 3717 RMB

(Beijing Foreign Studies University)

No.7 中国科学技术大学 3700 RMB

(University of Science and Technology of China)

No.8 西安交通大学 3682 RMB

(Xi'an Jiaotong University)

No.9 上海外国语大学 3633 RMB

(Shanghai International Studies University)

No.10 上海交通大学 3596 RMB

(Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

To many people's surprise, top guns such as Beijing University and Tsinghua University are ranked quite low on this list, at No.19 and No. 27 respectively, due to the fact the it excluded bonus and commissions. Based on the survey, it seems that students who major in foreign languages, finance and technology tend to get better starting salaries.

A typical scene at a career fair/interview.


When I first talked to one of my Chinese colleagues about people's starting salaries in China, I was very surprised to learn that medical doctors, dentists and lawyers don't get much financial rewards or recognition in contrary to their western counterparts, and according to him, that's why the health system sucks so much there. You don't get the top tier students in medicine or law to start with, and then the pay is low and hence lots of dodgy things go on. This friend of mine was a pharmacist-turned-sales manager for a big drug company, so there must be some truth there.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Photos of the South China Tiger

This is the hottest search keyword on Yahoo China today, 2,319,791 searches in one day.

In essence, this is another real-or-fake news that frequently happens in China. (see Beijing's Fake Pork Buns). This time the culprit is a tiger in the photo below. Can you tell whether it's real or not?


Zhou Zhenglong, a farmer and former hunter in Zhenping County, Shaaanxi Province, took 71 photos of a South China tiger on October 3rd. The experts from the provincial Forestry Administration examined the photos and announced: yep, the near-extinct South China tigers are back. No one has seen them since 1986 but now they are back again.

Zhenping County, a small village with 57,000 people, is suddenly in the spotlight and becomes the hottest tourism destination for nature-loving college students.

Zhou (pictured below) is hoping to sell these photos for a big fortune. He is asking 1 million RMB.

But soon people started to question the authenticity of the photos. They are saying that the photos are real alright, but the tiger was just a painting on a piece of cardboard. Zhou got really pissed and said "I will cut off my head if the photos are fake!" although no one thinks he will really do that. Zhou is currently in Beijing as the State Forestry Administration carries out a proper investigation on the matter. The result will be announced via Xinhua or a press conference.

I have my money on "fake". I just don't believe that a near-extinct tiger would pose so nicely for the camera. You are talking about meeting eye-to-eye with one of the eight remaining tigers (according to villagers' own estimate) in a forest of 47196 acres. Sure. Nevertheless, Zhenping County has become famous, even the welcoming billboard at the entrance of the village has a tiger on it now.


Tiger photos raise questions

The South China Tiger Photographs

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Most Expensive Nail House

This is the 5th hottest search keyword on Yahoo China today, 2,251,573 searches in one day.

"Nail House" (钉子户) is a relatively new term in China. It refers to a standalone house in the middle of a demolition ground due to disagreement with compensation terms. The house sticks out like a nail. People started to realize that you don't have to move if you are not happy with the compensation after a woman in Chongqing put on a fight to guard her property and became famous with her Nail House. This time, the Nail House is in Shenzhen.

The old couple, Cai Zhuxiang and Zhang Lianhao, standing in front of their to-be-demolished Nail House in Shenzhen.


Mr. Cai's Nail House stands in the middle of the prosperous Luohu business district in Shenzhen. Apartments around it sold for more than 20,000 RMB per square meter but the developer's initial compensation terms were only 6,500 RMB per sm. Of course Cai was not happy. During this year-long negotiation, he and his family had to suffer threats, thefts and vandalism put on by the developer (Kingkey Group, which has a solid political connection and backing). They locked themselves up after 6 pm everyday and never went anywhere due to fears. He was even threatened by the city government official who told him "98% of all nail house owners die in car accidents" when he went there to report the threats he had been receiving.

Good news came through at the end of last month. Kingkey Group finally moved to put a stop to their daily loss due to the construction delay. They reached an agreement with Cai to pay him more than 12 million RMB for his house, which translates into roughly 16,000 RMB per sm.

However, Cai and his family continue to live in fear. They keep receiving extortion calls because everyone knows now that he is rich.


"Nail house" owner receives millions of yuan in compensation

"Nail house" in Chongqing demolished

Lunar Satellite Chang'e 1 (嫦娥一号)Lifts Off

This is definitely the hottest news in China right now. I have seen the footage a million times on various TV channels by now.


Chang'e-1, China's first lunar satellite, was launched at 18:05, Octorber 24th, 2007, in Xichang, Sichuan.

A computer-generated image of the lunar orbiter


The whole event would've been incomplete without quick wit businessmen trying to cash in on the project. One travel agency organized a "launch viewing" special deal where people can pay 800 RMB to observe the launch. Naturally, it was really popular. As this is such a national pride, a lot of people were genuinely interested. One man said he planned the trip well ahead and took leave from work in order to join the tour.

I find it quite cute that the Chinese actually exhibit some rare romanticism with the whole satellite thing. Chang'e, the name of the satellite and the project, was taken from a well-known fairy tale. Chang'e is the Chinese goddess of the moon. She was said to be the empress of a famous archer/emperor, whom she stole the elixir of immortality from. There are many versions of the stories (see wikipedia) but the ending is the same: Chang'e flew to the moon after taking the elixir and lived there ever since. It's really nice to have a romantic element in this otherwise serious project in a very serious country.

Chang'e the Moon Goddess



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Get Married Before You Graduate

This is the second hottest search keyword on Yahoo China today, 2,198,833 searches in one day.

In essence, this is YET another get-rich-quick scheme. The people who are eager to get married are young girls in their early 20s. Reason: solid financial support.

As many female students approach graduation and are starting to look for a job, they realize that even crappy and low-paid jobs are hard to come by. Even if you get a job, the low salary that a mediocre graduate from a mediocre college gets can hardly buy them nice things (and oh no, you have to WORK). So they run to the nearby marriage arrangement services in droves hoping to find a husband who can give them the kind of lifestyle they want, instantaneously.

When they register at these "services", they will list their requirements. The typical criteria are: have a house, have a car. Some prefer people with stable income such as teachers, civil servants. Some even make it clear that they want someone from Hong Kong or with a foreign passport. Interestingly, they don't care much more about anything else. Some girls have the upper age limit set (for the husband) at 60!

But who wants to marry these girls? It's so obvious they are just in for the money. To your surprise (and mine, too), there are many such guys at the demand end. They are the so-called "successful" businessmen who are looking for "good looking wife under 25 years of age". This is also why the girls are so anxious to get exposed to this marriage arrangement market so early (some are not even 20) because once they pass 25, they are not wanted by the rich men.

Interview of Miss Chen (one such girl)

Newspaper: Why do you want to get an arranged marriage? Isn't it a bit too early for a 20-year-old?

Miss Chen: I didn't think I would do such a thing just several months ago. But I've been having difficulties finding a job, none of my job applications got any response. One morning, I almost fainted on the crowded bus because I skipped breakfast to go to a job interview. At the moment, I realized that I needed a shoulder to lean on.

Newspaper: But do you think you can find the man of your dream before graduation? You don't have too much time.

Miss Chen: Not 100% sure, so I am still looking for a job.

Newspaper: Now you put materials first. What if you find your husband intolerable after you marry him, what do you do?

Miss Chen: Uhh..... I haven't thought about that.

Newspaper: Don't you feel that your education is wasted? Aren't you afraid that you will have a low status in the family?

Miss Chen: I can use what I've learned to help him and educate the kids. Low status.....maybe I will still work in the future.

Newspaper: So where is love?

Miss Chen: I believe love can be cultivated.


Li Keqiang (李克强)

This name is definitely the hottest search keyword in China right now, followed closely by another name, Xi Jinping (习近平). They top several categories on today.

"China's future leaders" by Reuters


These two guys are said to be the future leaders of China's Communist Party. Both being relatively young (Xi at 54 and Li at 52), these two upcoming political stars have just been selected into the new nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, which is said to be the innermost ring of power in China.

I don't usually find political news that interesting, but the amount of interest these two names attract both within China and overseas just cannot be ignored. From all the news and media coverage I have read and seen, it seems that everyone thinks Li Keqiang  and Xi Jinping are gonna be the next leader in 5 years time for sure when President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao retire then. At present, Xi is poised to take the No. 1 position when the time comes, but things can always change. Li has a favorable background, as both he and Hu Jintao come from the same province in China, Anhui.


China unveils likely successors to top posts

China's top communists meet behind closed doors as 2 rising stars emerge

Monday, October 22, 2007

21 Hardest Chinese Ever

This is the 10th hottest keyword on Yahoo China today, 2,141,050 searches in one day.

A website recently launched an online voting to determine the hardest, most difficult, least known Chinese characters ever. Here is the current leader:

   meaning: exorcism

Even professors at the Chinese University in Hong Kong could understand only one of the 21 characters running for this title, they need to look up the rest in the dictionary. For most people, they will never encounter or use any of these characters in their entire lifetime.

According to one professor, there are around 60,000 to 80,000 Chinese characters in this world (no one has ever properly and officially counted them) but most people only know about 3000 characters when they finish high school, and that is already enough for you to understand 98% of all the written things.

So don't feel bad if you don't know "exorcism" or "flying squirrel". No one really does anyway.

To check out all 21 characters, visit:


Friday, October 19, 2007

YouTube now knows Chinese

One of the hottest news talked about online in the past few days in Hong Kong and Taiwan was that YouTube has just launched it's localized sites for Taiwan and Hong Kong.

I checked them out. It's pretty much just a translated version of the original interface, but I guess it's less intimidating for people who don't read English that well to use it. Words such as categories, channels, community, views, share, my favorite, tag, sort......are translated into traditional Chinese. On the front page, there are featured videos that, according to Steve Chen himself, are selected by their team.

The database is still the same, you can still find clips from other countries if you do a search on the HK or Taiwan site. However, the order of the search results may differ from the US site. They will give local content priority.

Netizens in Taiwan particularly welcome this move by YouTube since up until now, the market for video sharing platform was dominated by Yahoo, and they feel that this should infuse some healthy competition. Not much noise from the users in HK, although they have uploaded a huge amount of clips.

When asked if YouTube is eyeing Mainland and planning to do a simplified version, Steve Chen gave a generic answer: need to check out the legal requirements first.

Interestingly, on the Taiwan site, you can see a tiny little national flag on the upper right hand corner, which is a big taboo for the mainland government. This may have something to do with users in China being unable to go to that site.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's Hairy Crab Season

大闸蟹 (Dazha crab), or more widely known as Shanghai Hairy Crab, is in season right now. This typical Shanghai delicacy is particularly sought after for its rich and creamy roe, in fact, I never eat its meat, the meat is scarce and just too ordinary compared to its roe.

Hairy crabs ready for serving: so yummy and yet so bad for your health.......


However, like, well, most things from China if not all, hairy crabs suffer problems with the fakes. Although most hairy crabs on the market are claimed to be the genuine Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs, some insiders have revealed that probably 99% of them are fakes from other lakes. One old trick is to dunk these less priced crabs into Yangcheng Lake just prior to the crab season, then viola, you've got "Yangcheng Hairy Crabs" to sell.

To give consumers confidence, there have been different measures used to guarantee the quality of the crabs. Some crabs have logos laser-engraved on the back; some wear a special ring on one of the claws. However, most businessmen are quick to get around these barriers. You can have an ordinary crab engraved with a "Yangcheng Lake" logo for 30 cents RMB, and the special IC embedded crab rings can be taken off and put on other crabs. Some of the rings are sold to unknown crab traders.


A laser-engraved hairy crab


The price may give you a little more reference: those eight-dollar ones in the wet market are highly probably fakes, however, that is not to say those 400-dollar ones in a restaurant are definitely genuine. If it's too big (eg, over 200 grams), it's probably a fake, too.

The special chip-embedded  ID ring


If you are not too concerned about the fakes, there is still the problem with the possible carcinogens. In fact, some of the crabs exported to Taiwan last year were found to contain nitrofuran, a banned antibiotics and a suspected carcinogen.


Taiwan's local consumers are unlikely to enjoy delicious hairy crabs from China

Stricter safety standards impeding crab imports (Taipei Times)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shanghai Sold For 28 Million USD!

This is one of the most viewed news on It is in fact referring to the "Shanghai Island" of the cluster of man-made islands in Dubai, known as The World (archipelago), being sold to a Chinese business man from Shanghai.


On October 9th, Bin Hu, director and owner of Zhongzhou International Holdings Group, signed a deal with Nakheel, the developer of "The World" project, to buy the "Shanghai" island for 28m USD.

"Shanghai" island consists of 9 smaller islands that are connected via bridges. Hu is planning to reconstruct some of the famous landmarks in Shanghai, such as The Bund, Oriental Pearl Tower, as well as the Huangpu River. Hu and his company will build 70 villas and a small holiday resort on "Shanghai" (geez, I wonder what the price tags will be!). He is also planning to spend another 100 m USD to purchase two more islands next year.

Incidentally, the China part of "The World" consists of 5 islands: "Beijing", "Shanghai", "Hong Kong", "Kunming" and "Taiwan". I wonder if "Taiwan" has been sold. If not, then I think it'll be the perfect home for the Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian, after he gets off his 8-year presidential term next year. 28 millions is small pocket change to him since he and his family have raked in a sizeable amount of tax-payers money via various creative ways of corruption during his term (and really, "Taiwan" is probably worth a lot less than "Shanghai"). Not only this will be Chen's only chance to declare "Taiwan" independent, he and his wife will need a good hide-out place to avoid facing criminal charges when he is no longer immune to prosecutions.

Chen and his wheel chair-bound wife, who has already used sickness as an excuse to refuse to turn up in court for, if I am up-to-date enough, 5 times.



Chinese tycoon buys Dubai's Shanghai Island

The World Official Website

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Woman Harassed Because of T-shirt

This is the No. 5 hottest news on Yahoo China today, 1,947,757 searches in a day.

Seriously, if you don't know what it means, don't wear it. I have seen it a million times now, but now it finally makes headline in China, maybe it'll stop people from doing it.


One Chinese woman went on a tour with her family to Europe in mid August this year, and she felt that she must have a garment by an internationally famous brand to wear on the trip. Since her destination countries would fine people wearing counterfeits, she decided to spend huge dollars and get a real Nike from a Nike shop for 115 RMB.

However, her happy mood was ruined when one day at the airport in Rome, a professor in the same tour group explained to her about the implied meaning of "I like being on top".  She immediately felt extremely embarrassed and undignified. She was traumatized further when a young man gave her a couple of funny smirks with accompanying whistles as she came out of the airport toilet.

At least you can say "I like being on top" has double meanings, and I am sure some women in the States will happily wear it without feeling uncomfortable (knowing the full meaning) as it signals domination and power of some sort. I have seen worse. Once I saw a girl at the subway in Hong Kong, her t-shirt said:

"I am a slut!"

Imagine this following conversation:

Judge: Why did you harass this woman?

Defendant: Well, she is a slut! What do you expect me to do! I though she was asking people to harass her! 

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Who Stole Beckham's Body?

I know David Beckham is really popular in China. And yes, I know he has many million-dollar endorsement contracts, but seriously, I cannot imagine Beckham endorsing a sexual performance enhancement drug in China like in the picture below:


For those of you who don't read Chinese but would like to know what the poster says, here it is:

" Beckham using his 11th body part to endorse ....(cut off)"

"England BonBoo Capsule"

"Britain's Sex Revolution"

"Made from living organisms in the sea,"

"British Royal Family...(cut off)"

"David endorses vehemently,"

"Result immediately....(cut off)"

I must confess that I don't understand the deal with the "11th body part". But it's a safe guess that it is referring to the penis.

In fact, David Beckham is only one of the many victims of this type of copyright infringement. Although people tend to be more careful in the big cities, in smaller provincial areas and villages, big stars' faces are frequently used to promote aphrodisiacs and massage parlors.

Super Girl Dieting

They should feel sort of lucky that dieting isn't so bad compared to performance enhancement drugs.

I found this one which is the perfect match for Beckham's ad. Although the poster is cut off, the words in the upper right corner say:

"Beckham's wife, Spice Girl Victoria"

"3236808888 Zhaojun Motel"

You cannot go lower than this, can you?


Consignment Shop

"40 shops in 10 square meters" is the second hottest search keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,917,822 searches in one day.

A Du, a young man in Xian has been nicknamed by his friends "the smallest real estate agent in China".

A Du and his shop


What A Du really has is a consignment shop. Generally known as "Cubicle Shop", or "gezaipu" (格仔铺), it is a place where people can lease a small cubicle space in the shop to display thing they want to sell. Therefore, you can walk into the shop and browse products from many small sellers at the same time. This concept first started in the UK, got really popular in Japan several years ago, then it became huge in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, seems that now China is catching up. A Du divided this rented shop space into 120 cubicles which are leased to 40 sellers.

(One Consignment Shop in Hong Kong)

This type of shop is particularly popular with the young people. The rent of the cubicles is extremely low compared to leasing one entire store in a mall, most sellers don't have that many products to fill the store anyway. Consignment shops give them access to the shoppers but take away the high fixed cost and the hassle of minding the shop.

(Fee schedule for a consignment shop in Hong Kong)


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Richest Woman in China

The name "Yang Huiyan" tops the People's category on Baidu today, beating the runner-up "Mao Zedong" by a huge margin.

Yang Huiyan's wedding photo


Yang Huiyan is a 26-year-old girl who has just become China's richest woman according to Forbes. Unlike the other top people, she did not work her way up from the grass root level. She simply has a very rich dad.

The father, Yang Guoqiang (known as Yeung Kwok Keung in Hong Kong) celebrates company's IPO in Hong Kong


The Ohio State University graduate now sits on the board of her dad's company, Country Garden  (碧桂園), a real estate developing company, as an executive director. Country Garden became listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in April this year, and Yang Huiyan is now estimated to worth 16.2 billion USD due to that fact that she holds 70% of the shares.

Yang Huiyan is just as low-key as her dad and hasn't done any interviews with media at all. Not long ago, one website even started a competition to hunt for her photos. Eventually, her wedding pictures became exposed. Much to many people's disappointment, this dorky looking Tsinghua University graduate got there first. The couple met through an introduction of some sort, and the groom's father is a high-ranked provincial official in the northeast . Dad said he felt this marriage gave him "good face".


26-year-old is China's riches -- Forbes

Country Garden Soars 37% in Hong Kong Debut

China's Country Garden posts upbeat first-half net

Super Boys No Match For Li Yuchun

This is the 8th most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,862,184 searches in one day.


Li Yuchun (pictured above) was the winner of the huge reality TV success, Super Girl, two years ago. She (yes, she) has since become one of the most loved pop idols of modern day China. Following the success with the program, Hunan TV did another similar show this year, Super Boy. Again it was a huge hit with the young audience. The winner Chen Chusheng also became a popular face almost immediately.

But if you put them side by side (as the Chinese would say: PK), who draws in more money for their record company (they are managed by the same one)? According to some recent observations, apparently Super Girl Li Yuchun comes out on top by a huge margin.

In both Nanjing and Chongqing, the ticket sales of Li Yuchun's concert is doing way better than that of all the 13 Super Boy finalists combined. Although she was the winner from two years ago, her fans are as crazy about her as ever (and they are mostly girls). One of the Super Boy finalists, Wang Zhenliang, was Li Yuchun's music teacher at the Sichuan Music College. This poor guy lost out on the "PK" to his own student.

Loser! Wang Zhengliang (i.e. Li Yuchun's former music teacher)



"Happy Boy" Top Winner Promotes Concert

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chinese Christian Organization Calls for Boycotting of Lust, Caution

Ang Lee's newest movie, Lust, Caution, is currently the talk of the town all over the place. Once again it has made into the Top 10 keywords for today and I have already talked about it twice, there is really no more explanation needed. (Se Jie, Ang Lee Wins Again)

However, not everyone is pleased with Ang Lee. Traditional Family Coalition, a Chinese Christian organization that is based in Sunnyvale, California, is calling for a boycott of the movie by all Chinese around the world because "the movie's prime selling point was the prolonged explicit sex scene of a Chinese actress and actor, and was only included for the shock-value."


Dr. Bill Tam, Executive Director of this organization, alls Ang Lee a "shameless modern-day traitor to the Chinese culture" because "Ang Lee uses a national shame to further his personal career ambition."

(See the entire statement),+caution&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&client=firefox-a

It's not new for Ang Lee anyway. When he made news two years ago with Brokeback Mountain, some Chinese Christian associations in the San Francisco Bay Area held a joint press conference to condemn Ang Lee and his work because they felt that the movie was promoting and legitimizing homosexuality.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Casino King's Two Wives Unite To Protect Empire

This is the No. 2 most searched keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,784,303 searches in one day.


Sir Stanley Ho (guy in the middle), is 85 years old and is the richest man in Macau, No. 104 on the Forbes list in 2007 and sits on a net worth of 7 billion USD.

He is called the "King of Gambling" because he made most of his fortune running the monopolized gambling industry in Macau for the past 35 years. However, Ho is facing increasing competition from big foreign casinos such as The Venetian, MGM and others that are coming in to Macau to share the pie.

To protect their man's gambling empire, wife No. 3 Ina Chen (on the right) and wife No. 4 Angela Leong (floral dress on the left) have decided to put down their long-standing woes and unite to fight against the evil outsiders. Ina and Angela pooled together enough money to buy the outdated 3-starred Mondial Hotel which will undergo renovations to become a more hip and trendy place.

I once asked a friend from Hong Kong how Stanley Ho could have four wives, isn't that illegal? Apparently wives No. 2, No.3 and No. 4 are not legally married to him. Each one of them has been given a huge mansion and they hardly interact with each other. That's why this cooperation between Ina and Angela is seen as such a big deal.


Casino Mogul Stanley Ho Strikes Back At American Gaming Giants with a New Casino