China Weekly news
20th Aug, 2022
- Dior accused of “cultural appropriation”, led to student protest in Paris.
- Media criticized for mocking grassroots youngsters when trying to defend a young celebrity.
- Ride hailing giant Didi fined for $1.2 billion, netizens called for regulations on monopoly and cybersecurity.
- Chinese Internet infuriated by Pelosi’s Taiwan visits, questioned state’s inaction.
- Government restricted skyscraper construction in commitment of environmental friendly goals.
This Week’s Headline
Christian Dior sparks criticism for ‘cultural appropriation’ of centuries-old traditional Chinese skirt.
Chinese international students gathered outside Dior’s flagship store in Paris, France on July 23, to protest the luxury brand’s new skirt for cultural appropriation of Chinese traditional costumes. The protesters, who dressed in Hanfu clothing, held signs like “Dior, stop cultural appropriation” and “This is Chinese traditional attire” at the scene.
At issue is a $3,800 black pleated skirt from Dior’s fall collection, described by the French fashion house as a “hallmark Dior silhouette”, but which Chinese social media users and protesters claim closely resembles a Chinese traditional skirt known as a “mamianqun,” or “horse face skirt”. The hashtag #Dior plagiarism# racked up more than 540 millions views on Weibo.
“Dior appropriated traditional Chinese clothing and claimed to be its own iconic design? As a Hanfu fan and Dior consumer for many years, I am very disappointed”, wrote by a fashion influencer with two million fans, Ten Tone Shiyin. “Many Hanfu lovers wouldn’t be so angry if Dior had used the Hanfu element on its clothes and noted where it comes from, just as the brand’s former chief designer John Galliano has used Chinese culture elements many times but was always clear about their original sources”, says one protest organizer.
The protesters demanded Dior attribute the design inspiration to Mamian Skirt. The skirts are often worn by members of China’s growing “hanfu” culture. Wearing Hanfu has grown into a phenomenon among upper middle class young people, many who are luxury brands consumers, to celebrate their cultural identity.
Tracing cultural roots and heritage has gone beyond classes and spread across the entire younger generation. In June, several Chinese TV series caused a flurry of criticism by netzines for the use of Japanese Kimonos in place of traditional Chinese costumes, suggesting that young Chinese are calling for the recognition of their cultural heritage and a post-hegemonic attitude towards style making.
Trending Among Gen. Z.
The Internet raged against state-affiliated media for using the term “small town swot” to mock grassroots people.
Controversies were originally raised around a young actor, Jackson Yee, for taking on a governmental job. Government jobs are highly competitive in China due to their stability and require nationwide exams. Netizens accused Yee of taking away normal people’s job opportunities despite his privilege as a celebrity. One state affiliated media, supporting Yee’s choice in an article, called these raging grassroots netizens “small town swot”, a term mocking working class students who are only good at exams and grades.
Internet considered it as class discrimination and responded with huge backlash that eventually forced Yee to gave up his job position and many other state media to speak out in support of grassroots youth.
The incident is one of the many demonstrations that grassroots youth on the Internet is turning against elites and celebrities because of their possessions of more resources and privileges. The millennials are becoming more empathetic and respectful towards grassroots figures instead of the elite ones.
Consumer & Businesses
Netizens celebrated Didi’s $1.2 Billion fine for illegally collecting users’ data.
Ride-hailing giant Didi was fined $1.2 billion on July 21 for violations of China’s network security law, data security laws and personal information protection law. Netizens showed strong support of the regulation. Some comments under the news announcement said “Didi should be fined more!” and “punishing Didi is not enough!”
After acquiring Uber’s China business in 2016, Didi essentially grew into a monopoly power in the ride hailing industry. In recent years, social media has been calling for government regulations of monopolies in the tech industry, such as Alibaba, along with the increasing concerns about private data being controlled and potentially misused or sold by corporations.
China government’s regulatory action came partly in response to public anger over the enormous power of internet giants. It’s a common misconception that Chinese citizens are happy to give up personal privacy for the sake of convenience. In reality, public protests against violations of personal information had forced internet giants to issue apologies and change their practices before the actions of regulatory authorities.
Chinese Internet infuriated by Pelosi’s Taiwan visits, questioned state’s inaction.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on August 2nd, despite repeated warnings from China that her visit could trigger “serious consequences”. Prior to the visit, the Chinese government’s warning received a landslide support from netizens across platforms.
Chinese state media made extensive coverage on the issue to gather national attention and conveyed very tough messages to the public. A top state-media commentator said China has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets or even shoot them down.
However, after Pelosi’s successful arrival, social media was disappointed by the government’s reaction and rallied for a stronger response. Many state affiliated media were questioned by netizens for building up momentum of tension in the first place. The state media, to some extent, failed to accurately reflect the state’s actual position and plan regarding the situation, thus creating disappointment and rage among the public.
China no longer allows constructions of skyscrapers over 500 meters and places heavy restrictions on buildings planning to be over 250 meters.
The National Development and Reform Commission re-stated the restrictions on skyscrapers, making it the fourth time for the Chinese government to implement regulations on skyscrapers. Mega buildings are considered to be energy-inefficient and with high maintenance costs. Social media mostly applauded the decision, as skyscrapers over 500 meters have also been raising concerns about its rescuing capability during an earthquake or fire.
The policy is one of the many reforms in response to Chinese governments’ goal to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. More policies on environmental issues and the green industry are likely to keep emerging.