The Nanfang / Blog

Mark Zuckerberg Delights Tsinghua Audience by Speaking Exclusively in Putonghua

Posted: 10/23/2014 2:31 pm

zuckerberg speaking chinese at tsinghuaMark Zuckerberg’s visit to Tsinghua University yesterday revealed some important announcements, but it wasn’t what he said so much as the way he said it that has delighted Chinese audiences.

The founder and CEO of Facebook spoke exclusively in Putonghua at a sit-down interview in front of Tsinghua students. For 29 minutes, Zuckerberg spoke fluent Chinese and smoothly answered questions despite having a hard English accent and with difficultly getting his tones correct.

Zuckerberg received a round of applause by beginning the talk with “大家好” (hello, everybody), and continued to astound the awestruck crowd by continuing in Chinese. The only English spoken during the talk was by the host when he introduced Zuckerberg.

zuckerberg speaking chinese at tsinghuaZuckerberg announced some of his plans, such as the hiring of about 20 Chinese nationals to work abroad, something that has happened annually for awhile. But Zuckerberg usually fielded much simpler questions, all pertaining to China.

When answering “Why did you learn Chinese?”, Zuckerberg said that his wife Priscilla Chan is Chinese, a statement that drew a large round of applause from the audience. He explained that her grandmother only speaks Chinese, and he wanted a way to converse with her.

Besides saying he wanted to learn more about Chinese culture, Zuckerberg said that Chinese is a difficult language to learn, and that he wanted a challenge. To this, the host said, ”Today, let’s all challenge Mark.”

zuckerberg speaking chinese at tsinghuaZuckerberg had earlier met Chen Jining, the principal of Tsinghua, had and held talks about cultivating talent and opportunities to work together. Zuckerberg has agreed to serve as an advisor at Tsinghua.

Zuckerberg has been learning Putonghua since at least 2010.

Here is video so you can hear Zuckerberg’s Putonghua for yourself:

Photos: screencaps from QQ


Shenzhen to unveil civility laws, do you think they’ll be effective? We asked some expats

Posted: 01/28/2013 7:00 am

After Beijing Cream reported that new civility laws would be introduced in Shenzhen March 1, The Nanfang asked several expats for their thoughts on the laws. Below we recount some of the most interesting responses.

As explained by Shenzhen Daily, the laws will mean that ten types of uncivilized behaviour, including spitting, littering, and smoking in non-smoking areas, will be punishable by a fine, the size of which will be at the discretion of the law enforcement officer. Violators will also have the option to apply for community service to offset up to half of the fine.

Concerns raised about the laws included whether it was right to try to change a culture through law; whether they could be enforced effectively; whether they don’t go far enough (for example, allowing your child to go to the bathroom on the street is not included); and whether law enforcers would abuse the power they were given.

Alex Hoopes, a 26 year-old executive assistant from the United States does not see Shenzhen succeeding in enforcing the laws: “I remember Beijing made a big deal about cleaning itself up in preparation for the Olympics, and had subsidies from the national government to boot, yet today there’s just as much litter, spitting, and public smoking as there was before.”

Hoopes thinks instead of underpaid chengguan (urban administrators) taking action, individuals should take a stand against behaviour they consider inappropriate. If people know there is a stigma attached to what they are doing, then they will stop doing it, according to Hoopes.

Charles Kirtley, a retired businessman from the United States, opposes the laws. He once wrote an opinion piece in Shenzhen Daily titled “Let China be China,” expressing the view that the sight of people smoking in non-smoking areas is part of what makes China distinct.

The same goes for other types of “uncivilized behaviour,” said Kirtley: “I don’t believe seeing a child piss on the sidewalk does me any harm.”

Bar owner Dave Seymour has seen a marked improvement in public behaviour in his more than seven years in China. He welcomes the laws as he is personally annoyed by the types of behaviour targeted by the laws, but he does not see them being effectively enforced.

He also fears that chengguan will find it easier to target violators for who 100 RMB is a lot of money: “I think if some migrant construction worker covered in grime from working his ass off spits and tosses his baozi bag on the sidewalk, the chengguan will be all over him. If a guy in a huge black SUV spits out his window, and throws his KFC garbage out his window, they’ll just pretend they didn’t see anything.”

One school of thought on the subject of civility is that it is a middle-class value, so we need to wait until the majority of Shenzhen residents can be considered middle-class.

Miles Alberto, a project manager from the Philippines who resides in Shenzhen, disagrees with this and supports the laws. Being from a developing country, she does not see poverty as any excuse to behave in an uncivilized manner, and has observed that many Chinese people’s behaviour has not improved along with increased wealth.

She was also incensed by the fact that people allowing their children to go to the bathroom on the street was not being targeted.

Other opinions expressed to The Nanfang included that of singer Gary Hurlstone who thinks that the laws should focus more on the behaviour that damages other people’s health such as smoking indoors and spitting.

So, what do you think?

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