China’s father of pinyin, Zhou Youguang, dies, aged 111


Top society and culture news for January 17, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Xi Jinping at Davos: China as the new champion of globalization?"

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 20: (CHINA OUT; PHOTOCOME OUT) Graduates attend a graduation ceremony at Shanghai Jiaotong University on June 20, 2005 in Shanghai, China. According to the Ministry of Education, about 3.38 million college students will graduate this summer, 580,000 more than last year. Graduates face fierce job competition, as the number of graduates leaving colleges and universities have increased since 1999. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

  • China’s Zhou Youguang, father of pinyin writing system, dies aged 111 / BBC
    The man who taught the world how to spell nǐhǎo (你好, hello) passed away over the weekend at the tremendous age of 111. Zhou Youguang’s innovative system for writing Chinese sounds in the roman alphabet, named pīnyīn (拼音, literally, “to piece together sounds”), was developed in a Communist Party committee in the 1950s and swiftly adopted as the linguistic standard for mainland China. Along with simplified characters (which, at their most extreme, turn cyphers like 幾 into 几), the system is credited with sparking a wholesale revolution in how Chinese is taught and raising the literacy rates of Chinese citizens from around 15 percent to near-universal.
  • Chinese Football Association imposes foreign player cuts in Super League / Sky Sports
    While Chinese football clubs have been keen on recruiting overseas stars such as Chelsea duo Oscar and John Obi Mikel, there will soon be a change. The Chinese Football Association recently announced a plan to cut the number of foreign football stars in the league. Under the new rules, due to be introduced in 2018, each team will only be allowed to have three overseas stars on the pitch at one time and five in the squad. The move is supposed to help with the development of local younger football players.


Keep an eye on what’s buzzing among China’s 700 million social media users.

Tang Yan’s mobile phone cases / Weibo (in Chinese)

One of the most popular discussions on Chinese social media today is about a photo of Tang Yan, a Chinese actress, showing off her Louis Vuitton leather iPhone cases. The conversation continues a long-running debate on the Chinese internet about the boastful postings of the wealthy: Some comments are critical, while others say people should not be jealous of those who have earned their money through hard work.