Chinese Corner: ‘Rocket Girls,’ heart-shaped faces, and the mystery of Chinese agriculture

What does the future hold for “Rocket Girls”?

By 贾小凡 | Vista看天下
August 9, 2018

Rocket Girls 火箭少女, the manufactured girl group spun off from the wildly popular reality TV show Produce 101 创造101, which we have covered extensively, is off to a bleak start.

A little over one month into its existence, the group has been bombarded with complaints from fans and criticism from the entertainment industry. In addition, there is palpable tension between group members. And their latest single, “Calorie” 卡路里, has been condemned for its stupid lyrics and awful production. Yesterday, three members of the group, one of whom was the winner of the Produce 101 contest, released a joint statement to announce their departure.

Vista 看天下 points out that the fallout between Rocket Girls is actually very predictable given the history of feuds between Chinese reality shows and their contestants. This includes vendettas over Super Girl 超级女声 and the Chinese version of The Voice 中国好声音. “What makes this case unique is that Produce 101 stressed audience participation heavily in the beginning. It required viewers’ devotion, emotionally and financially. But after the group’s formation, they let interest disputes between different agencies take the lead, paying no mind to the audience’s investment, which now makes the group look like a joke.”

Meanwhile, the popular WeChat blog 萝严肃 dedicated to entertainment news argues: “It’s rumored that many similar shows are in the works. But after this, who will be gullible enough to believe that a Chinese talent competition show truly cares about its audience? Who will be willing to vote again?”

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Writing wills as young adults

By 刘妍 | 真实故事计划
August 9, 2018

The idea of writing a last will and testament might never occur to some people, especially young adults in their twenties and thirties. But a growing group of young people in China are thinking about how to deal with the stuff they will eventually leave behind.

According to the Beijing Living Will Promotion Association, more than one-third of the wills made on its website are from young adults under 35. In this article, Liu Yan 刘妍 at 真实故事计划 interviews eight of them. They talk candidly about their thoughts on the inevitability of death and what prompted them to write a will.

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Ten years after Beijing’s glorious Olympic Games, how are these gold medalists doing?

By 每日人物
August 8, 2018

The complicated legacy of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 is a topic of hot debate at the moment. Some of the grandiose stadiums that were built for it have been left derelict. And the Games’ influence on the country’s sports industry is not easy to parse. But among a series of articles that reflect on the monumental sporting event, this one really stands out by focusing on the lives of the Chinese athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, particularly gold medalists, in the past 10 years.

On a related note, Renwu 人物 has a profile of Li Ning 李宁, the retired Chinese gymnast and entrepreneur who ignited the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

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The mystery of Chinese agriculture

By 兔透射 | 大象公会
August 6, 2018

Author Tutoushe 兔透射 delves into problematic official statistics about agriculture. According to the author, a mismatch between production and consumption figures clearly indicates that some data has been fabricated by local governments, whose performance is largely assessed by volume of agricultural production. “It seems like Chinese people in some areas have a strong appetite for vegetables. But in fact, it’s just a delusion created by some smart government officials,” the author concludes.

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Inside the lucrative business of heart-shaped faces

By 陈柯芯 | GQ报道
August 4, 2018

In China, an increasing number of patients want plastic surgeons to cut away at bones beneath their faces to get a narrower jawline and chin. Since 2006, Zhang Xiaotian 张笑天, the surgeon profiled in this feature story by GQ Reporting GQ报道, has created more than 3,000 “heart-shaped faces,” the most sought-after shape in the country.