北京国安 (Bĕijīng Guó’ān) is Bĕijīng’s premier soccer team. They make the city proud when their green colors fly over the Workers’ Stadium in the eastern part of the city.
Bĕijīng Guó’ān’s arch-rivals are Shànghăi Shēnhuā, and the two teams despise each other, perhaps reflecting the general rivalry between the two cities - and perhaps fuelled by that one time in 1997 when Bĕijīng humiliated Shànghăi with a 9-1 win. Ouch.
The rivalry thrives despite the fact that neither team ever really wins the Chinese Super League, except when Bĕijīng finally reached their potential (or, some would say, got lucky) and won in 2009.
Both teams have recently cast long wistful looks after Guăngzhōu Héngdà, whose 7-year league-winning streak has cemented them as China’s best team. And indeed, Guăngzhōu’s ambitions are not modest, their English slogan being “Be the Best Forever”.
Show Shanghai who's the capital! Wikimedia Commons
庄子 (Zhuāngzĭ) was a Daoist philosopher who lived in the 4th century BC. He is famous for his subtle humor and his animal-related allegories.
In Zhuāngzĭ’s best known quotation, he argues that one can never truly know what is reality and what isn’t:
“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither. I was happy, and unaware that I was myself. Then I woke up. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”
In a more humorous episode, Zhuāngzĭ and a friend walk along the river. “See how happy the fish are”, says Zhuāngzĭ. His friend objects, saying “How can you know what makes fish happy? You’re not a fish!”. Zhuāngzĭ smiles and retorts: “How can you know that I don’t know what makes fish happy? You’re not me!”
Sure looks happy enough. Pixabay
鹿晗 (Lù Hán) is one of China’s biggest celebrities - a triple threat dancer-actor-singer who has the record for assembling the “largest gathering of people wearing antlers” according to Guinness World Records. What? Read on.
Sometimes called “the Justin Bieber of China”, Lù Hán started his career as a member of Korean-Chinese dance group “EXO” - and perhaps as a result, he has had a highly impressive range of hair colors through the years.
Since then he has gone on to a colossal solo career, mass-harvesting awards for both singing and acting. Fame has also made him the brand ambassador for everything from Coca-Cola to Star Wars, and his face is on every street corner and magazine.
And the antlers? Lù Hán’s fans (Lu fans, obviously) have been quick to fawn (pun intended) over the fact that his family name means “deer”, and they are happy to dress to impress.
But... where are the antlers? Baidu Baike
绍兴黄酒 (Shàoxīng huángjiŭ) can be flatly translated as “yellow wine from Shàoxīng”, but the sweet drink has much more to it than that. Similar to fortified wine like sherry or port, the brew is spiced, aromatic, and beloved across China.
The amber-hued huángjiŭ usually has an alcohol content of about 15%, and is very much distinct from it’s much stronger cousin, báijiŭ, which is clear and usually closer to 50%. While báijiŭ is mostly wheat- or sorghum-based, huángjiŭ is usually based on rice, and thus closer to its other cousin, Japanese sake. Like sake, huángjiŭ can (some say should!) be served warm.
Huángjiŭ is great for cooking as well, for example in “drunken chicken”, 醉鸡 (yep, you guessed it, it’s a chicken dish with lots of booze), or as a key ingredient in “red braised pork”, 红烧肉, known as Chairman Máo’s personal favorite.
Elixir. Baidu Baike
双十一 (Shuāng Shíyī), or “Double Eleven”, is a day dedicated to the joy of being single and, perhaps more importantly, supermassive online shopping! And it’s coming up this Sunday!
First developed as a day for singles to celebrate their singlehood in a dignified way, the day also - perhaps unavoidably - became a time for singles to meet. There’s two 1’s in 11, after all!
But most people think “shopping!” when they think of Double Eleven. The world’s largest consumerist feast, it has a much higher sales volume than Black Friday in the US, with discounts on everything from cars, clothes, and electronics to furniture, cosmetics, and toys.
Of course, most people have the same love/hate relationship with the date as Americans do with Black Friday. At least here it’s mostly online sales - hopefully resulting in fewer trampled people?
So good luck, delivery companies. Don’t get too stressed.
Fill it up. Pixabay
狐假虎威 (Hújiăhŭwēi) is a figure of speech that means “the fox exploits the tiger’s power”. It’s used to describe someone who uses somebody else’s authority to get an advantage.
One time, a very hungry tiger spotted a fox and pounced on him, ready to devour the unlucky creature. “Stop!” shouted the unusually clever fox. “If you eat me, the gods will smite you, because I’m the Chosen One!”
“Ha”, said the tiger, “prove it!”. But the fox had a plan: If the tiger would just walk a few steps behind the fox, then he would see how every other animal in the forest would scream and run away as soon as they saw the Mighty Chosen Fox.
And indeed - with the tiger behind the fox, everyone fled in fear, and the tiger had to concede that the fox was indeed divine.
Who's going to mess with the Chosen One? Pixabay
韩寒 (Hán Hán) is a blogger, writer, critic, singer, film director, and professional rally driver. What? Yes. Time magazine has called him one of the most influential people in the world.
Always controversial, Hán Hán has been described as “the voice of his generation”. After failing out of high school, he published the novel “Triple Door” (三重门) about a high school student who fails at everything, including love, school, and parents. It became the defining youth novel of a generation, and kick-started his career.
He then turned his attention to race car driving, which has only added to his image as a rebellious teenager. He won lots of prizes, making the establishment sigh with a mix of envy and indignation.
His scathing and irreverent blog has since been one of China’s most-followed. Everyone has an opinion about Hán Hán. And he probably has one about them.
Visionary? Annoying? Both? Baidu Baike
松鼠桂鱼 (Sōngshŭ guìyú), or “Squirrel Fish”, is a visual feast of a dish, usually identified with the area around Sūzhōu.
A squirrel fish is a sweet and sour, de-boned mandarin fish (or perch, or carp) with puffed-up, deep-fried meat that almost looks like a fluffy squirrel tail.
The legend goes that once, when the emperor visited Sūzhōu, he went to a restaurant and pointed to a particularly majestic fish in their pond, saying he wanted it for dinner. The restaurant owner started to sweat, because the fish was a sacred sacrificial type, not meant for eating. After a quick huddle with his cooks, an idea was concocted: Spruce up a different fish until it looked nothing like a fish at all!
With a little culinary ingenuity, and lots of sweet and sour sauce, the emperor was kept happy, and China became an iconic dish richer!
Squeak, squeak. Baidu Baike
孟母三迁 (Mèngmŭsānqiān), “the three moves of Mencius’ mother”, is a story about the importance of education and the determination of a mother.
Born 200ish years after Confucius himself, the philosopher Mencius (or Mèngzĭ) is sometimes called “the second sage” of China. But his wisdom may not have been so great if it weren’t for his almost-as-famous mother.
Mama Mèng was poor, and lost her husband early. When she and Mencius moved to a house near a cemetery, she saw her son grow up while imitating the cries of the mourning - certainly not a place for a child!
They next moved close to a marketplace, but here the kid learned to boast and lie like the travelling merchants. Not good either, she thought, and moved again.
Finally, the little family settled next to a school, where well-mannered scholars conversed and studied. “Here is a place for my child”, she thought, and Mencius grew up as a lover of wisdom - a philosopher!
Location, location, location. Flickr
中国男子篮球职业联赛 (Zhōngguó Nánzǐ Lánqiú Zhíyè Liánsài), also known as the Chinese Basketball Association, or the CBA, is China’s top-level basketball league.
The CBA is increasingly visible on the world sports stage. More and more NBA profiles also take an interest in the league, and superstars like Tracy McGrady have played there while others have coached.
The CBA is headed by Yáo Míng, the legendary Houston Rockets center known as “the moving Great Wall”. One of China’s most recognizable celebrities abroad, he took over as chairman in 2017 and plans to make Chinese basketball greater than ever before.
Like in its American cousin, the league’s teams take on more or less fear-inducing names like the Bĕijīng Ducks, the Fújiàn Sturgeons, and the Sìchuān Blue Whales.
Last year, the league was won by first-time champions Liáoníng Flying Leopards.
If hornets and leprechauns can play basketball, why not ducks? Wikimedia Commons