Weekly #2 Five China stories you need to read
"Even though she had made her way to lose weight, she still didn't have the freedom to choose clothes"
It's heartening to see that the very first weekly roundup of the five China stories selected by GRR from China's social media platform has resonated so well with our diverse readership. Today we have carefully curated another compelling set of stories for this week, which covered the following topics:
1) How women's clothing sizes are becoming increasingly unrealistic and demanding in China's fashion industry
2) Why multiple bus routes in Baoding, north China's Hebei province, have been suspended
3) The story of Changhong and her 25-year-old son who reconnected through playing the online game Dungeon & Fighter (DNF)
4) What are the most regretted majors in China
5) The rise of municipally owned enterprises
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1.Who is shutting out the large size?
Overview: The article, published by 每日人物 [Daily Person], a WeChat blog exploring hot topics and business stories, talks about how women's clothing sizes are becoming increasingly unrealistic and demanding in China's fashion industry, causing many women to feel anxious and insecure about their bodies. It gives examples of how some popular brands only offer one size or small sizes that fit very few people, and how even celebrities and models are excluded from wearing them.
It is also pointed out how the current fashion trends of short, tight, and revealing clothes require women to have a very slim and perfect figure, which is hard to achieve for most people. The article implies that the clothing industry is creating a narrow and oppressive standard of beauty for women, and that women should not let their self-worth be defined by the clothes they wear.
A weight-loss blogger who stands at 5'3" tall and weighs 140 pounds visited a physical store and immediately felt overwhelmed by "having a body issue." Many women's clothing stores didn't even have any size L (L for large) available. She extended her hand and measured the waist size of an M-sized (M for medium) dress, which was at most 50 centimeters.
She wanted to try on the style, but the shop assistant sized her up and said, "You probably won't fit into it. If you insist on trying, be careful not to tear the clothes." She felt embarrassed after hearing that. Even though she had made her way to lose weight, weighing from 200 pounds to 140 pounds, she still didn't have the freedom to choose clothes; she could only "let the clothes choose her."
For example, Uniqlo, known for its casual and relaxed style, has started selling form-fitting knit sweaters with square collars and striped camisoles with ruffle edges, embracing the BM style. Fang He, a store manager at Uniqlo in east China's Shandong province, has noticed that in the past two years, the "spicy girl" style has replaced the traditional polo shirts and UT (Uniqlo T-shirts), selling well and requiring frequent restocking. However, there are also many people who complain when she announces the arrival of new spring and summer styles, saying, "Even Uniqlo is abandoning us ordinary people."
[GRR's note: BM style, a frequently-occurred word in the article above and also in the clothing industry, originating from the Italian teen brand Brandy Melville, was initially created to cater to slim girls by providing clothing in smaller sizes. With the slogan "one-size-fits-all," the most classic combination in this style is a cropped top paired with a plaid skirt. However, due to Brandy Melville specializing in petite women's clothing, the BM style has also been referred to as clothing exclusively for girls weighing less than 94 pounds. ]
BLACKPINK's stage outfits have to some extent led to the resurgence of "Spice Girl" fashion.
Comment: With the increasing popularization and accessibility of social media, people are more exposed to exploded information and tend to regard those Internet celebrities as the opinion leader to follow the trend in fear of lagging behind. Whether it's the currently popular BM style or the previously trendy A4 Waist Challenge and Belly Button Challenge (only when you are thin enough can you pass these challenges seen as "the test of a good figure"), people are easily swept up into the so-called trend, having a body issue and even fat shaming.
But just like the famous quote from the fashion designer Coco Chanel, "Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself." Choose the dress that reflects your own style, rather than chosen by the dress to cater to others' opinions. Don't put the cart before the horse.
2.Why are bus routes suspended in this city with a population of nearly 10 million?
Overview: Multiple bus routes in Baoding, north China's Hebei province, have been suspended. The reasons behind the suspensions are mainly two-fold.
Firstly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bus ridership has sharply declined, causing public transportation companies to struggle with insufficient revenue, with a shortfall of up to 30 percent. Secondly, the cost of manufacturing and maintaining new energy buses is relatively high. The power batteries of the initial batch of purchased electric buses have exceeded their warranty period, posing safety risks. As a result, they were forced to cease operations, significantly impacting the capacity of public transportation services.
The predicament faced by Baoding Public Transport is not unique. Many other places, such as Shangqiu in Henan Province and Dancheng County in Henan Province, are also experiencing bleak bus operations, which even lead to suspensions.
The article comes from 中国新闻周刊 [China Newsweek], a Chinese weekly magazine founded in 2000 and based in Beijing, China. Published by China News Service, the magazine is one of China's most well-known periodicals, providing extensive reports on current affairs and political news.
The revenue of public transportation enterprises comes from operational fares, as well as supplementary business industries and government subsidies. Government funding support is reflected in the provision of vehicles and subsidized public transportation services for certain population groups, such as free rides for senior citizens. It means that the cost is covered by the government rather than directly paid by the elderly.
As a sustainable mode of transportation, the bus system requires significant promotion. However, major cities should also provide more supportive policies to assist the bus system in recovering passenger flows on the supply side.
For example, setting up dedicated bus lanes in areas inaccessible to cars and enabling bidirectional bus operations on one-way streets designated for cars. The transportation department in Beijing has already proposed the idea of bridging the gaps in bus lanes, aiming to establish a bus network coverage exceeds that of cars.
Additionally, in a certain southern tourist city, the front entrance of hotels is reserved for bus terminals, while the back entrance serves as the entry point for car users. Similar urban facilities can help stabilize a portion of the passenger flow for public transportation companies.
Comment: A well-functioning public transportation system is essential for the efficient movement of people and goods, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and fostering economic and social equity within a city. This predicament faced by several cities in China highlights the need for supportive policies from the government to help public transportation systems recover by addressing the decline in ridership and financial constraints. After all, it is essential to promote and support public transportation as a sustainable mode of transportation.
3.My 50-year-old retired mom decides to join me in playing Dungeon & Fighter (DNF).
Overview: The article comes from 差评 [Poor Rating], a WeChat blog aiming to debug the world by covering technology, digital trends, automotive industry, business and economy, and gaming. It tells the story of Changhong and her 25-year-old son, Magua, who reconnected through playing the online game Dungeon & Fighter (DNF).
Changhong, a retired woman in her 50s, had limited computer skills but decided to join her son in playing DNF after he invited her. Through the game, they bridged the generation gap and found a new way to communicate.
Changhong's gaming journey, documented in her son's online videos, garnered a small following, with viewers admiring her willingness to engage in gaming and communicate with her son through the medium. Although initially unfamiliar with the game, Changhong gradually learned the mechanics and even participated in team-based dungeons. Despite making mistakes and encountering challenges, she persevered and earned the recognition of her teammates.
Through the game, Changhong sought to connect with her son and regain a sense of companionship. The article highlights the unique bond they formed and how gaming provided them with a shared experience and a means of communication.
一棵倒下的大树挡住了她的去路，系统提示使用普通攻击即可破坏。坐在一边的麻瓜对她又解释了一遍： “ 树横在你面前了，让你破坏这棵树。 ” 长虹有点犹豫，她把自己半辈子的人生经验套在了游戏上： “ 我靠，环保局不会找我来吧。。。大家不都让环保吗，我把树给砍了。 ” 弹幕里网友笑作一团，有人开玩笑说，环保局不来，但林业局会过来罚款。
A fallen tree blocked her path, and the system prompted her to use a normal attack to destroy it. Sitting beside her, Magua explained it to her again, "The tree is blocking your way, so you need to destroy it." Changhong hesitated for a moment, applying her life experience to the game, "Oh no, will the environmental protection bureau come after me? Everyone talks about protecting the environment, and here I am chopping down trees." The barrage of comments from viewers erupted with laughter, and someone jokingly said that the environmental protection bureau might not come, but the forestry bureau would come to impose a fine.
不过麻瓜也是从零开始，一点点耐心教老妈玩，希望她能更开心一些。双方的长幼身份仿佛发生了逆转，麻瓜成了一个忍着焦躁温柔教导的长辈，而长虹却成了一个学习新知识的 “ 老小孩 ” 。
Magua patiently taught his mom to play from scratch, hoping to make her happier. The roles of the two generations seemed to have reversed, as Magua became a patient and gentle mentor suppressing his impatience, while Changhong became a “child” learning new knowledge.
The generation gap eroded by the river of time couldn't hinder the mother and son from taking steps towards each other's hearts.
Comment: This heartwarming tale emphasizes the power of gaming in fostering connections and nurturing relationships. Changhong's ultimate goal was to reconnect with her son and find companionship, and the article beautifully showcases how gaming provided them with a shared experience and a unique bond. It is a testament to the transformative potential of technology in bringing generations together and breaking down barriers. Changhong's story serves as an inspiration for others to explore new avenues of communication and embrace the positive aspects of gaming as a means of connection.
4.The most regretted majors: Journalism doesn't make the top five | 2023 Youth Ideal Major Report
Overview: "2023 Youth Ideal Major Report", which involves 1,231 participants, reveals that over 70 percent of people regretted their chosen majors, with philosophy, agriculture, and management ranking as the top three most regretted disciplines. The main reasons cited for regret include generalized subject content, low job prospects, and a lack of practicality. Many individuals who regretted their choices switched to computer science/software, economics, and business management.
The article comes from youth36kr 后浪研究所, a WeChat blog focusing on young people under 36氪 [36kr], an outstanding brand and pioneering platform serving participants in China's new economy. It provides cutting-edge and in-depth business coverage, emphasizing trends and value.
The results show that 50.6 percent of young people are still deeply engaged in their corresponding professional fields, while over 30 percent of young people have ventured into other industries. When it comes to specific positions, the medical and legal fields have the highest "employment purity", with 70 percent and 60 percent respectively being in professions directly related to their majors.
There are also quite a few individuals who actively abandon their "ill-fated" major when they discover it to be a potential quagmire. Among our respondents, 417 people (33.9 percent) have switched majors. Among them, 15.5 percent have transitioned to computer/software-related fields, while economics, business administration, journalism, and artificial intelligence have also become popular destinations for some young individuals.
Every year after the college entrance examination, when it comes to choosing university majors, many families would clutch on to thick reference books, meticulously comparing the available majors and institutions with their students' abilities, striving to make the most of their exam scores. This leaves many individuals in a state of confusion, as they choose a major relying entirely on the promise of "good job prospects" and, under their parents' advice or even coercion.
However, upon actually experiencing that chosen major, they realize that they don't enjoy it or that its career prospects are not as promising as their parents had imagined, leading them into an endless cycle of pain and regret.
Comment: This article can be seen as a sequel to the last issue of our newsletter regarding Zhang Xuefeng, an internet influencer making videos of consultations on postgraduate major selection. In a recent live stream, Zhang Xuefeng persuaded parents not to choose journalism as their children's university major. However, this article concludes through data analysis that journalism is actually not the most regrettable major to choose. On the other hand, this report shows that law is the most satisfying major. Your Ginger River guesses this might be true both in China or the United States.
5.The rise of municipally owned enterprises
Overview: Municipally owned enterprises (MOEs) are organizations that are owned and operated by municipal governments, as opposed to private enterprises, provincially-owned enterprises, and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). They have risen to prominence in recent years in China owing to audacious and successful ventures in new energy, NEVs, chips, and modern manufacturing. They have become primary drivers of local economy and indicators of industrial growth.
Guangzhou, capital city of south China's Guangdong Province, ranks No.1 in terms of municipally owned enterprises, the article posits. Northeastern provinces, on the other hand, are significantly lagging behind despite strong industrial bases.
The article was originally published by Guominjinglue (National Strategies), a WeChat account focusing on macroeconomics, big companies, and city developments in China.
地方国企一般有三类企业，一是基础设施及公共领域类国企，二是相对市场化的产业类企业，三是投融资类企业。第一类多转型成了城投平台，肩负起融资功能，但地方债问题不容忽视。 第二类产业类国企，覆盖汽车、电子、医药、集成电路、商贸等领域，市场竞争相对充分，是地方国资的主力，也是资产增值保值的主要来源。 至于投融资类国企，则是地方政府“投行化”的缩影，也是逐鹿新赛道的主要力量。
There are generally three types of MOEs - those dedicated to infrastructure and public sectors, those turned into market-oriented manufacturers, and those focused on venture capital.
The first category has mostly been transformed into estate investment companies, taking on financing functions but also resulting in serious local debt issues.
The second category covers areas like automobiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, integrated circuits, and commerce. They participate more fully in the market competition, being the staple of municipal assets and the main source of asset appreciation.
Municipally-owned VC enterprises are a typical case of local governments operating more and more like investment banks. They are now the main players in new arenas.
Comment: As over-reliance on land sales revenue pushes local governments to seek new growth engines and revenue sources, equity investment gives them an opportunity to share in the upside of emerging industries. The rise of MOEs signifies a significant trends in China's economy - the government is stepping in to foster new champions in strategic sectors to upgrade their industrial bases and move up the value chain. And what better instruments than SOEs to allow direct control over investment direction?
However, the rise of MOEs does not necessarily mean a blow for private enterprises. As facts have shown, the spillover effect of MOEs can be a boost shot to the private sector, as they help fund R&D and provide patient capital to high-tech startups.