Set a “small goal”
In a TV interview, China’s richest man Wang Jianlin recalled that when his apprentices would say “I want to be China’s richest man” at the early stage of their careers, he would instruct them to “Set a small goal first, for example, earn 100 million Yuan to start with!”
To achieve Wang’s “small goal,” young people who own no property and earn mediocre salaries would “have to work 1,000 years without eating or drinking,” a 19-year-old wrote on Weibo after watching Wang’s interview.
Chinese internet users now use “Set a small goal” when they make similarly “small” resolutions, like praying for something unthinkable.
The “Ge You slouch”
A screenshot of a skinny, balding, middle-aged man slouching on a couch went viral on the Chinese internet this year. Ge You, a guest star in the 1990s sitcom “I Love My Family,” played a scam artist who tried to sell himself as an inventor. After the family on the show invited him into their house, the freeloader pretty much glued himself to the couch 24/7, except when having meals.
Chinese netizens coined the phrase “The Ge You slouch” to describe a state of idleness which they called “living without hope.”
After breaking her personal record and qualifying for the final of the women’s 100-m backstroke on Aug. 7, 2016, Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui said in a poolside interview, with hyper-excited facial expressions, “I didn’t hold back… I’ve already used all of my mystic energy.” Her phrase “mystic energy” has since become a meme.
When asked what happened at a traffic accident scene, a senior citizen told a Chinese reporter, “I know nothing, I was eating a watermelon.” This is said to be the origin of the meme “watermelon-eating spectators,” which refers to bystanders who know nothing about what is going on.
The current people are not okay
In March, an official wrote in the People’s Daily that every Chinese citizen is responsible for building a corruption-free society.
The author Xi Hua argued that the party’s anti-corruption drive has “achieved huge accomplishments” in recent years, but in order to keep this momentum going, the bigger challenge is to stop everyone from offering bribes in the first place. For example, patients should never give “red envelopes” of money to doctors ahead of surgeries.
The article soon garnered scathing responses on the internet, with many bloggers commenting with the line “The current people are not okay” to ridicule the author’s argument, which is now used to mock official misconduct or social problems.
This is very halal
It all started with a joke. In 2013, a Chinese blogger posted a picture of two cans of meat that almost looked identical—one marked “braised-pork can” and the other marked with a halal symbol.
Pork is, of course, not allowed according to Islam. The company that produced the canned meat, soon released a statement that the two cans are of different products. The one with the halal logo is a can of braised beef, it claimed.
The incident was mysteriously revived this year. “This is very halal” became a meme making fun of something inauthentic or someone who says one thing but does another.
It is also often used as an offence to Muslims. For example, cartoons depicting bearded Muslims as terrorists carrying weapons accompanied with text such as “Heard you are not halal?” are commonplace on China’s internet.
Don’t talk back to your father
“Father” is a word that automatically implies authority and superiority in Chinese culture.
Chinese trolls flooded Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s Facebook page with the message that Taiwan and China are part of the same country after her victory in January’s election. Tsai’s party, the Democratic Progressive Party, has espoused pro-independence views, much to Beijing’s displeasure.
Many cartoons depict China as a panda with a man’s face, accompanied with text like “Don’t talk back to your father” or “How dare how you speak to your father like this!”