US Chinese women experience glory and bullying at the Olympics

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Two Chinese athletes starred in the glory and virtual bullying in the first week of the Winter Olympics, which have been taking place in Beijing since last Friday (4).

A native of California, figure skater Zhu Yi (née Beverly Zhu) gave up her American citizenship to defend China in the sport. Debuting in an Olympics, the 19-year-old hoped to prove that she deserves the spot on the Chinese team even without having grown up in the country.

It didn’t go as planned: in the group competition, Zhu missed a jump and crashed into the barriers of the arena. The incident pushed her to the bottom of the table and dropped China from third to fifth in the overall standings, narrowly claiming a spot in the final.

It was enough to spark a wave of online attacks. Zhu doesn’t speak Mandarin and was heavily criticized on Weibo (a kind of Chinese Twitter).

  • The topic #ZhuEragouTudo accumulated more than 100 million hits on the social network in a matter of hours;
  • Many mocked her language skills, while others accused her of bringing “disgrace to the nation” and questioned “how Chinese she is”;
  • The volume of criticism was so great that Weibo announced that it had suspended 93 accounts and at least 300 posts related to the matter.

In the opposite direction, the young Eileen Gu, 18 years old, found favor with the crowd. The story is similar to Zhu’s: half Chinese and also born in the US, Eileen chose to represent China in 2019. Fluent in the language, she delighted the local press by imitating accents from different regions of China and took the gold medal in ski style. female free.

Gu has been treated like a hero in the country. She is already a celebrity on Douyin, the local version of TikTok, and montages with snippets of her performance in the competition rack up millions of views.

The daughter of a Chinese immigrant from Beijing, she reinforces that she hopes to use her story as an inspiration for the two countries to become closer. At least on the Chinese internet, she is thriving at the task.

why it matters: The cases of Zhu Yi and Eileen Gu help to understand how geopolitics is present in this edition of the Games. The Chinese-American sports community is huge, but it is unusual for ethnically Chinese Americans to choose to defend the Asian country. Netizens will celebrate the glories, but they will certainly not let questioning the identity of those who, like Zhu Yi, are in the midst of political tensions between the two countries.

what matters most

The women’s soccer team beat South Korea and became champions of the Asian Cup, which motivated demands for equal pay and appreciation of the sport. The feat came after the men’s team failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

The women’s victory flooded social media. Many netizens highlighted how difficult life is for female athletes: it is estimated that only 20% of female soccer players in the country earn more than 10,000 yen (just over R$8,200) per month.

In addition to mocking the men’s team, users of the social network Weibo also asked that the achievement serve as an incentive for media coverage of the sport without sexism.

“These girls are China’s heroines, but the press only cares about their romantic relationships. Will that change now?” read one of the most popular posts on the topic on the net.

The death of an employee of BiliBili (a Chinese service similar to YouTube) has again sparked discussions about exhausting working hours.

Common, the excess in the workload even got a name (in this case, number): 996 (9 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week).

According to reports from colleagues on social media, the employee was 25 years old and suffered a stroke while working in content moderation during the Chinese New Year holiday.

Local media reported that the young man died of exhaustion, although the company issued a statement denying that this was the case.

Reacting to online criticism, BiliBili said the employee worked on a regular basis the week before his death (eight hours a day, five days a week).

“The company will strive to expand moderator recruitment and plans to recruit another 1,000 people this year. We will pay more attention to the physical health of employees,” BiliBili promised.

Chief of the Chinese mission to the UN, Ambassador Zhang Ju, encouraged the Taliban to take effective measures to combat terrorism. Addressing a meeting on Wednesday, Zhang said the withdrawal of foreign troops had “created a vacuum” of power in the country, which shares a short border with China.

“Any passivity and negligence in counterterrorism, any tolerance of terrorism… and the use of terrorist forces for geopolitical gain is a betrayal of the victims of terrorism and will have serious consequences,” he warned.

Although it never officially acknowledged the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, China was one of the first nations to receive envoys from the group, weeks before the full withdrawal of US troops from and around Kabul.

Since then, Beijing has handled the issue cautiously, fearing that the rise in terrorism will empower violent separatist movements in the delicate province of Xinjiang.

keep an eye out

With nearly 18,000 cases of Covid-19 recorded since 2020 and facing the fifth wave of the disease, Hong Kong could see an explosion of infections soon.

A study conducted by experts at the University of Hong Kong showed that to return to “Covid Zero” status, the city needs to “urgently” impose a lockdown of “at least two months” or risk registering 28,000 daily cases by June.

“Even if we maintain the strictest social distancing measures currently in place, Rt [taxa de transmissão] would not yet reach 1 – the tipping point when the outbreak would subside on its own,” warned study leader Gabriel Leung.

why it matters: one of the biggest financial hubs in Asia, Hong Kong decided to close itself to the world at the beginning of the pandemic and prioritize the reopening of borders with mainland China. Abandoning the Covid zero strategy now would mean giving up access to the continent for an indefinite period. Implementing a lockdown, however, can cause significant losses to the already battered local economy.

to go deep

  • In recent years, live sales have become one of the most profitable channels for small online entrepreneurs in China. Sixth Tone shows how the harsh divide between rural and urban areas is even more evident in this format. (free, in English)
  • The Brazil-China Business Center launched a page with a compilation of all 18 lives and 20 original publications produced by the body last year. Among the topics covered are Chinese investments in Brazil, opportunities in Chinese ecommerce, among others. (free, in Portuguese)
  • The submission of articles to the “China Dossier”, an academic publication of the Catholic University of Salvador, is open until April 15th. Interested parties can contact the organizers and check the call for proposals at this link. (free, in Portuguese)

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