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Top ten China stories that amused the world in 2013

While 2013 was a good year for China, with the economy stabilizing and international status rising, the year also caused some embarrassments. 

Top 1: People’s Daily tower—a perfect match for Central Television’s Big Underpants

China’s state media the People’s Daily and China Central Television (CCTV) this year surprisingly ‘partnered’ for mounting to be the top ridicule of the year. Check out the following two pictures and you’ll know why.   

In the top picture, the new tower of People’s Daily is on the left side and the famous Big Underpants of CCTV is on the right. A line of Chinese in the bottom picture says, “(They) finally get together!”

The year 2013 witnessed the new tower of People’s Daily ‘rise to international fame overnight’. Sadly, the reason is quite apparent—it looks like a big phallus.

Pictures and videos about the building made rounds on China’s social media, foreign newspapers and websites for a while. The infamous Jimmy Kimmel also joked in his late-night show, “How can that be an accident? There are thousands of people working on this thing. Have none of them been naked before? ”

Some innovative minds also found that, with a little creative Photoshop job, the "Giant Phallus" building could fit snugly between the "legs" of the China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, sometimes referred to as the "Big Underpants" building.

It was also widely reported by the foreign media that mockery comments and public sniggering on social media about the new tower were soon censored by China’s government. 

A search on Sina Weibo for “People’s Daily” and “building” would result in a message that says the keywords have been blocked “in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results cannot be displayed”.

Top 2: Surprising benefits of China smog

Toxic air has inflicted north China for quite a while, but when a large part of the eastern coast also begun to be shrouded in the notorious haze starting from December, the state media just could not help but try desperately to make up for the widespread discontent among the common public.

Shanghai covered in heavy haze. For a large part of December, 2013, most areas of southeast China are shrouded in dangerously hazy air. Photo:

CCTV (China Central Television) released a list of five ‘surprising benefits’ of smog.

1. It unifies the Chinese people.
2. It makes China more equal.
3. It raises citizen awareness of the cost of China’s economic development.
4. It makes people funnier.
5. It makes people more knowledgeable (of things like meteorology and the English word haze).

And the Global Times published a piece that said air pollution might help the Chinese military by obscuring sight lines, reducing the effectiveness of surveillance and weapons systems.

No wonder, the two ‘open-minded’ media soon took the relevant articles off their websites due to comments of strong resentment by China’s vocal micro-bloggers.

Yahoo News commented that these acts by China’s state media take "we had to burn the village to save it" saying to a completely new level.

Top 3: Dead pigs in Huangpu River

In early March 2013 over 12,000 dead pigs were fished out from the Huangpu River, which supplies the city of Shanghai with some of its drinking water. The pigs were dumped by farmers in neighboring Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, a major pig farming area that is upstream of Shanghai.

A March 19 report on Xinhua News Agency claimed that possibly intensive farming was the cause. The BBC reported that some pig corpses were infected by porcine circovirus.

Almost all mainstream foreign media covered the incident in detail and apparently, the western world was shocked and worried about negative effects on environmental protection and food safety.

One Weibo user commented, “Do you know when a river supplying drinking water being polluted by 12,000 dead pigs affected with virus would not be called a public health issue—when it happens in China.

Ang Lee's movie poster Life of Pi was 'photoshopped' to be Life of Pig by sarcastic netizens due to the Huangpu river dead pig incident. Photo:

Top 4: China’ new rich show off wealth—by smashing fancy cars

In May 2013, a man hired three people to destroy his Maserati, a luxury car worth almost half a million dollars.

People may guess this is an innovative way for Chinese new rich to show off their ‘indestructible’ wealth.

But the truth is, the disgruntled Maserati owner surnamed Wang claimed it’s time for foreign luxury car producers to acknowledge that Chinese consumers are entitled to get the same level of services as in other markets, considering there is a growing group of luxury car buyers in China and the country has overtaken the US as the biggest automobile market in the world.

Wang complained that the dealer had replaced faulty parts in his vehicle with used parts.

This is actually not the first time that a high-end vehicle was destroyed by angry Chinese customers because they could not get their cars fixed or receive a decent after-sales service. 

Actually, the problem has long been a hot topic on China’s social media. Common people in China complained that the new rich should not rush to buy foreign luxury cars and so they deserved their current troubles.

Most foreign media believes the owners are using the public show as a way to garner attention to claiming entitled rights as customers. 

Top 5: Chinese dama defeated Wall Street

Chinese dama, literally meaning Chinese big mama, gained international fame in 2013, while being advocated by Chinese state media to have defeated the Wall Street and proved the world they are the ones who hold purse strings to China’s spending.

Earlier this year, the international gold market began to trend downward, although no one back then would expect the fall of gold price seemed good chance for the Chinese dama to make a bargain. Anyway, they’ve got all the time, money and herd mentality to invest in something that became much cheaper than it used to be.

Although the downward trend for gold was only temporarily turned around by the group of Chinese dama, their ‘force and ability’ of sustaining a steadfast market for quite a period did shock the international financial markets including elites of the Wall Street.

However, as it turned out in the end, the declining destiny of gold market could hardly be saved. Chinese dama endured their loss while mocked by comments by some media that they only pursue cheap things and lack investing wisdom. 

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