The Nanfang / Blog

Chinese Censors Tighten Up Over Child’s Letter About Xi Jinping’s Waistline

Posted: 12/18/2014 4:27 pm

censored letter xi jinping lose weightMiddle-aged men around the world know it’s difficult to stay in shape, and even more difficult to hide it. For Chinese President Xi Jinping, it becomes even more of a problem if your waistline becomes a hot topic on the internet.

State censors have banned publication of a letter written by a nine year-old Henan boy that suggests President Xi lose weight after it went viral last night.

Niu Ziru, a grade four student at the Best International School in Zhengzhou, wrote the letter as part of a writing contest. Never intended to be sent to President Xi, Ziru’s father thought the letter was amusing enough to share on the WeChat social networking platform.

The letter talks about the international space race to get to Mars, and urges President Xi to choose the red planet over the moon as a destination for a space expedition. However, Ziru then changes the subject and makes an appeal to President Xi to lose weight.

“Uncle Xi, you could lose some weight. [You] don’t have to look as slim as [US President Barack] Obama. It’s all right to look like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” the letter wrote.

The Zhengzhou Evening News picked up on the story after it spread on WeChat, and the story begun running nationally until state censors shut it down.

The Chinese media are quite enamored with any personal Xi Jinping news. Not long after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin put a coat on the shoulders of Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, President Xi was photographed helping Peng walk through a door on a ship.

Furthermore, the marriage between Xi and Peng was celebrated as an ideal model in a music video called Daddy Xi Loves Mummy Peng that received 20 million hits within its first five days online.

Photos: cntv, scmp


Beijing To Enforce Guidelines After Xi Edict on “Strange Architecture”

Posted: 12/3/2014 9:30 am

cctv buildingChina has experimented with some strange and challenging architecture over the past few years, leaving behind several unique and iconic structures.

President Xi Jinping recently said enough is enough. “I don’t want any more strange architecture,” he said. Now, the deputy mayor of Beijing Chen Gang agrees and says the city will play a more active role in enforcing style standards. “City planners are to consider the overall style of city buildings. Dimensions, scale, style, color, shape, and materials must conform to standard regulations.”

Chen made the comment at the Beijing Cultural Heritage and Innovation Forum of Construction Experts. Chen also said the new policy is to ensure public harmony and preserve traditional architecture, all while embodying a cosmopolitan spirit that maintains regional characteristics.

Photo: cbda


Guangzhou, Serious About Soccer, to Create 5,000 New Teams

Posted: 11/28/2014 9:11 am

children student soccer trainingChina’s new school curriculum emphasizing soccer skills reveals a massively ambitious plan to turn China into a international soccer powerhouse.

Guangzhou has now revealed how it plans to contribute to the national goal with a new three-year plan designed to cultivate soccer skills in youngsters.

READ: China Makes Football Mandatory In Schools As It Dreams of Championships

As with school systems throughout the rest of the country, Guangzhou will make soccer classes compulsory for all students in elementary and middle schools as introduce a four to six day soccer seminar as part of the school’s curriculum every semester.

children student soccer trainingBy the end of this year, soccer programs are to be set up in 300 Guangzhou schools. By 2015, 25 specially-dedicated soccer schools are to be established throughout the city. By 2016, 500 Guangzhou schools should be involved in the program, creating a total of 5,000 intra-mural soccer teams from 500 schools and involving 50,000 students. Also by 2016, 75 specially-dedicated soccer schools are to be established.

READ: China Faces a Rocky Path to Football Superiority

The new focus on soccer and physical education is a radical departure from the standard practice of rote-learning in preparation for the gaokao, the university entrance qualifying exam.

Soccer development at a grassroots level is also a move away from the recent popularity of exclusive soccer schools with high tuition fees, such as the RMB 1.2 billion ($195 million) academy operated by Guangzhou Evergrande.

children student soccer trainingWhile President Xi has expressed his national dream for China’s youth to be healthy, a renewed emphasis on soccer may also reflect Xi’s desire for China to qualify, host, and win the World Cup, as seen here in cartoon form.

READ: Guangzhou to Build 100 New Football Pitches by 2016

Institutionalized soccer instruction is not new to China. In the 90s, around 4,000 traditional soccer schools were closed when Chinese football’s image tanked due to a failure to win Asian titles or qualify for the World Cup.

Aside from soccer, other international spots have seen great potential in China for sports development. Professional sports associations representing football, basketball and ice hockey have all expressed interest in developing their respective sports in China.

children student soccer trainingRelated:

 Photos: Sina Blog

New “Red Song” Called “Uncle Xi Loves Mummy Peng” Goes Viral in China

Posted: 11/25/2014 3:22 pm

uncle xi loves mummy peng viral video jinping liyuan president chinaThe passing of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976 was supposed to end China’s cult of personality around a central, all-powerful leader. Each leader since Mao has been successively weaker, according to popular opinion, but that trend may have come to a close. Current President Xi Jinping has a charisma and knack for getting attention that hasn’t been seen since Deng Xiaoping. He’s already affectionately referred to as “Xi Dada” while his famous and glamorous wife Peng Liyuan has people online in China swooning.

The latest tribute to the Chinese leader has spread on the Chinese internet faster than re-gifted mooncakes. A group of Henan musicians have created a video for a song called Uncle Xi Loves Mummy Peng that has already been viewed more than 20 million times. It has been online a mere five days.

Lyricist Song Zhigang was inspired to write the song while watching CCTV on November 16, and calls the work “a true expression of my innermost feelings”.

uncle xi loves mummy peng viral video jinping liyuan president chinaThe popularity and subject matter of Uncle Xi Loves Mummy Peng is similar to a “red song”, which are ultra-patriotic songs that originated during China’s Revolutionary Era. Usually praising the Chinese Communist Party or serving as a call to arms to protect the motherland, red songs aren’t usually about any a single person except for those that praise Chairman Mao.

uncle xi loves mummy peng viral video jinping liyuan president china

Uncle Xi Loves Mummy Peng shares the qualities of a red song by promoting national harmony and establishing an ideal figurehead, namely Xi. Furthermore, the first lyric of this song is very similar to a lyric from the red song Red Asia, but substitutes “Mao Zedong” with “Uncle Xi”.

uncle xi loves mummy peng viral video jinping liyuan president chinaHere are the lyrics, translated from Chinese:

Uncle Xi Loves Mummy Peng

Out of China has appeared Uncle Xi
a man willing to fight tigers of any size
and is not afraid of anything
Whenever I dream, I hope he appears!
China also has a Mummy Peng
who is given only the most beautiful flowers
may she be blessed, may she have good fortune
happiness for the family, country, and the entire world!

Uncle Xi loves Mummy Peng
this kind of love is like a legend
Mummy Peng loves Uncle Xi
of all the love in the world, it is the greatest love of all

Men must learn to be like Uncle Xi
Women must learn to be like Mummy Peng
and take after them and love each other
with a warmth that can warm ten thousand families!
Men must learn to be like Uncle Xi
Women must learn to be like Mummy Peng
and take after them and love each other
those in love are those that can win the world

(children rap breakdown)
There is a love called Uncle Xi loves Mummy Peng
when they are together, he is always smiling and happily looking upon her
There is a love called Uncle Xi loves Mummy Peng
Hand in hand, her smile is the most beautiful flower of all

Here is the Youku version, which has 1.5 million hits:

This news report quotes some of the positive comments about the vidoe. “Honestly, I was moved to tears by watching it. Their love is very moving and warm,” one said. Another: I love Mummy Peng most of all. She is dignified and beautiful, and it is very easy for me to say that she is the perfect model of what I want my girlfriend to be!!”

However, other commentators are less open with their praise. These comments were found on Youku:

Don’t know why, but when I hear this song, I feel embarrassed.

Never heard about propaganda studies? Don’t know about the theory of agenda implementation and the theory of cultivation? Become a member of the media; please read up on it.


Heard this yesterday, think that the people (who made this) are sick, and should be locked up.

Crazy; taken too many drugs.

All of a sudden, I feel it’s a bit like the adoration people used to do old China

Hahahaha, lmao. As I listened to this, I laughed just as much I felt embarrassed.

Hahaha. I have a phobia of becoming embarrassed, so I don’t dare to click on the video.

The overwhelming response to the song means there are already rumors that Uncle Xi Loves Mummy Peng will be performed during the most important show of the year, the Spring Festival Gala. Singer Yu Runze said that CCTV hasn’t contacted them yet, but hopes they will “come find us”.

The personal relationship between Xi and Peng has been in the news lately.

On November 10 during the APEC summit, tiger-releasing Russian President Vladimir Putin was shown on live television wrapping a coat around the shoulders of Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan. Any mention of this romantic gesture in the Chinese media was later censored, raising speculation it harms the image of the marriage between President Xi and his wife.

Perhaps to dissuade any doubts of marital disharmony, the following week saw Chinese news media publish the important news that President Xi helped his wife walk through a door on board a ship. Netizens called President Xi is a “gentleman” who is faithful to his wife.


Photos: screenshots from Youku


Watch and Learn, Putin: President Xi Shows Right Way to Charm a First Lady

Posted: 11/19/2014 4:28 pm

xi jinping peng liyuan ship doorAll eyes in China are upon the nation’s leaders for guidance and inspiration, and so when Chinese President Xi Jinping helps a lady through a door, people pay attention—especially when that lady is his wife.

While accompanying Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott aboard the South Pole exploratory ship “Snow Dragon”, President Xi was photographed turning back and extending a hand to help First Lady Peng Liyuan through a door. In order to perform the gesture, Xi even interrupted another man that was talking to him at the time.

Chinese netizens are abuzz at the sparks of romance demonstrated by the couple, and have nothing but praise for the “First Gentleman”:

Uncle Xi is the ideal model (husband) who loves his wife. [thumbsup.emoji]

I am truly envious.

[thumbsup.emoji] Uncle Xi~ (He) is so considerate and nice towards his wife [heart.emoji] (It is so emotionally) moving~

I need to learn from Uncle Xi

Having gained such a husband, what more can a wife ask for?

At last week’s APEC summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin was seen on television draping a coat over First Lady Peng during an outdoor event, an incident that was later censored from Chinese media in part because of its romantic overtones.

It appears First Lady Peng needs only one man to be her white knight—the president of her country.

Photo: Sina News


China Makes Football Mandatory In Schools As It Dreams of Championships

Posted: 07/31/2014 9:02 am

football china childrenLook out, FIFA 2026: China is preparing its next generation of football stars.

Ministry of Education Director Yuan Guiren said on July 28 that the ministry plans to make football a priority in schools from now on, reported China Daily.

Nanfang TV: Guangdong’s “football factory” an attempt
to make China a football power

The Ministry of Education says it will raise the number of Chinese schools that actively focus on football from 5,000 now to an eventual 20,000 within three years.

Yuan hopes to gradually implement a focus upon football in all four stages of schooling: elementary, middle schools, high schools, and even universities.
football china children

The focus on soccer is part of a larger plan, which involves more emphasis on physical education. There will soon be four PE classes a week from the current three for elementary school students, while high schoolers will move from two to three phys-ed classes.

READ: China Faces a Rocky Path to Football Superiority

Chinese education has traditionally emphasized rote learning in preparation for the gaokao, the university entrance qualifying exam, and has not focused upon physical education. However, Yuan was adamant this needs to change, saying:

No school will be able to use any reason or excuse to take away a student’s time that should be used for physical education class.

football china childrenYuan cities President Xi’s national dream for China’s youth to be healthy, but the renewed focus on physical education may also reflect Xi’s personal dream of football glory for the motherland. Xi’s football aspirations were recently immortalized in cartoon form. However, Xi has been clear that China would first qualify, then host, and then ultimately win the World Cup.

If playing football is going to be mandatory in Chinese schools as a way to alleviate the nation’s football woes, then we imagine “winning” should be made mandatory as well.


Photo: China Daily, Caijing, CCTV


Lionel Messi Says China Needed To Make Football Truly Global

Posted: 07/23/2014 4:52 pm

president xi messi jersey 10Say you’re Lionel Messi, the best football player in the world. Sure, it’s a shame you lost the chance to win the World Cup for your home country of Argentina, but you know, there’s a far more vexing problem to solve.

On a recent trip to Argentina, President Xi Jinping was presented with a #10 football jersey by President of the Senate and House Speaker Budu Dominguez. Messi was also ther at the time, and had this to say to CCTV 5:

I hope with Chairman Xi’s visit to Argentina that football can serve as the middle ground between our two countries as an era of total cooperation opens up between us. Argentina football has no reason not to help China because the biggest aspiration of all our football players is to make football the greatest sport in the world. In order to fulfill this ambition, we need to have the participation of China.

If we’re talking about the kind of football that Messi himself plays, he may have to wait awhile for China’s participation, ambitions be damned.

China did not participate in this year’s World Cup. In fact, China has only ever qualified for the World Cup in 2002 when South Korea hosted the tournament and was given an automatic qualifying position, leaving a spot open for another Asian team.

And yet, qualifying for the 2002 World Cup has been considered the greatest accomplishment in Chinese football history despite not scoring any goals or winning any matches during competition.

Photo: Shenzhen Evening Report


New Xi Jinping cartoon details President’s busy schedule

Posted: 02/20/2014 10:34 am

Say what you will about Xi Jinping, but he’s become much more of a media darling in the country since his ascension in November 2012.

His predecessors were known for their stoic public images, perhaps nobody more so than Hu Jintao. Hu’s contrived facial expression even stirred up speculation of facioplegia, the paralysis of facial muscles. Netizens even used “Hu Faciolegia” or Hu Miantan in Chinese to bypass the tightly scrutinized Internet when referring to him.

Xi, on the other hand, has earned himself a fan club on Sina Weibo called the “learning from Xi club”. (Some suspect it to be a slick propaganda move.) The latest effort to portray him as a down-to-earth state leader came when the state media Qianlong Net,  run by the Beijing Publicity Department, debuted the cartoon version of Xi in an article titled “Where has president Xi’s time gone?” on February 19. Clad in a grey jacket, with well-groomed hair, the chubby-faced Xi was seen with a sign in his left hand that says “Doing what I do basically means I don’t have any time to myself.”

The report said since Xi’s ascension to the country’s top job, he has made more than 80 inspection and overseas trips while balancing a busy meeting schedule. He had traveled across five continents and 14 countries, it said.

In his downtime, Xi enjoys reading, swimming, football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, martial arts and among others, according to the newspaper.

Xi, however, is not the first Chinese leader to have cartoon images. China’s former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping made his cartoon debut in 1986, the same year reform-minded leader Hu Yaobang was seen in a cartoon image titled “Comrade Yaobang leads us to sing new songs,” Economic Observer reported earlier.

Photo credit: Qianlong Net 


Dongguan struggling to combat severe poverty

Posted: 10/22/2013 1:00 pm

A recent op-ed in South China Morning Post called Dongguan a city “in search of a reason to exist.” The article cited the slowing growth in economic output and the struggling tourist industry.

A feature in yesterday’s Nanfang Daily covered a much more important concern than mere self-image – severe poverty.

Wealth disparity

The rural parts of Dongguan have long been the richest in the province, with per capita income in rural areas at 24,898 yuan, an increase of 9% on the previous year. The city also leads the province in per capita disposable income.

However, inequality remains a huge problem in spite of initiatives such as that to give subsidies to those living below the poverty line. There are some 500 villages and communities in Dongguan, and the 10 poorest have only 1% of the wealth of the 10 richest.

The average per capita annual income is as low as 6,120 yuan, with disposable income at just 15% of that of the average urban resident.

Dongguan party secretary Xu Jianhua said that since 2010, the city has been initiating programs to make sure that the poor are not left behind as Dongguan develops.

However, some areas have not developed significantly during the reform and opening up period and some have even regressed.

Xinwan, a once-thriving fishing village

Xinwan Community on the southern end of Humen was once a thriving fishing village. Now it is just another impoverished part of the countryside.

Xinwan’s party secretary Deng Jianxin said last year, per capita income in the community was less than 7,000 yuan, with net income at less than 1000 yuan.

Rice being cooked on a wood fire in Xinwan, image courtesy of Nanfang Daily

A Lian, 41, has lived in Xinwan all his life. He lives in one of the many 30 square metre homes that was built during the 1960s and 70s in the former fishing village. He has one daughter in primary school and another at university. The family can barely afford the 10,000 yuan a year it costs to put the older daughter through her studies.

A Lian’s monthly income from his electrical repair shop is usually around 1750 yuan. His wife earns 1000 yuan a month at a factory. They are among the lucky families who make just enough to scrape by.

The poverty that exists in rich Dongguan

This year, Dongguan’s minimum wage increased 14% from 1,100 yuan, which in theory means Dongguan should not contain the extremes of poverty found in the nation’s hinterlands.

Try telling that to A Tang who lives in Zhongtang Village with his family of four. Because of a stomach operation he had several years ago, A Tang is unable to do physically demanding work, so to make use of himself he had to act as housewife before going off to help his sister in the local poultry market.

Then he recently landed a job as a security guard which earns him about 1000 yuan a month for 15 days work, and his wife earns 1,000 yuan a month at a local factory.

Together, their income brings them up to the city’s minimum wage, so according to official statistics, they can’t be doing that badly, even though their 70 square metre home is falling apart.

Questions raised over poverty alleviation projects

As a lawsuit that was filed in Guangzhou in June shows, corruption is still a huge obstacle in combating poverty in Dongguan.

Shortly after his tour of Guangdong last December, Xi Jinping said local officials should always bear in mind poverty-stricken groups and work for them with their whole heart and soul.

However, the embezzlement of poverty alleviation funds remains a problem in spite of the president calling it an “intolerable crime.”

A reason to exist

Dongguan needs to find a reason to exist, because poverty alleviation projects cannot be funded or effectively implemented if revenue generators like tourism and manufacturing don’t do well.


First class faces axe at China Southern following Xi Jinping’s austerity measures

Posted: 04/2/2013 12:42 pm

Xi Jinping’s message of austerity seems to have landed at the head office of China’s biggest airline.

The CEO and President of China Southern Airlines, Tan Wangeng, is thinking drastic: the days of first class travel are over.

Not smiling anymore…on the delayed Dreamliner

If the axe goes ahead, it will be highly symbolic of the leadership influence in the north, and would no doubt please Zhongnanhai. But aside from this, China Southern just hasn’t been able to make much money through first class travel.

According to CAPA, the aviation experts,
by reducing or pulling all top-notch seats, China Southern can install more business class seats and get a better yield per passenger.

If all first class seats were scrapped on its aircraft, including the flagship A380, it only amounts to 116 seats being removed across the fleet.

With the number of passengers choosing the Guangzhou-based airline rising, it cannot make enough money off them fast enough.

China Southern A330 first class

China Southern is not the only airline reexamining its offerings. These days business is the new first, and the likes of Emirates and Lufthansa have signaled their reservations about the future of first class travel. Even Cathay Pacific said it had “no opinion” on what it would do.

CAPA sums up the dilemma for China Southern:

China Southern’s long-haul capacity is increasingly comprised of transfer traffic, including notable long-haul to long-haul connections, and not point-to-point traffic that can better sustain first class on individual routes.

With long-haul connections, eliminating first class on one route could reduce demand on the corresponding service. Isolating certain connections to have or not have first class is difficult with a relatively small long-haul fleet, as China Southern has.

A380 first class

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