For those of you too busy to check in on the RADII website every day, we’ve got you every Tuesday with a summary of all we got on China’s youth culture from the last week. In this edition:
- The hashtag ‘The British Queen Has Died’ (#英国女王去世#) began trending on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo mere hours after Queen Elizabeth II’s death was announced.
- Chengdu’s first Shake Shack location has gone above and beyond to localize everything from its decor to its fries.
- Inspired by American coming-of-age films and TV shows, influencers have been flocking to Ikea stores dressed in what they perceive to be ‘American-style’ high school attire.
- While most of My China Roots’ clientele are from the older generation, its Discord server is attracting overseas Chinese youth with a burning curiosity about their heritage.
Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died on Thursday, September 8, at the age of 96. Mourners in Edinburgh, Scotland, began queuing on the evening of September 12 to pay their respects to the departed monarch at St. Giles’ Cathedral.
The Queen had a complicated relationship with China during her 70 years on the throne. She reigned through significant events in Sino-British relations, including the Korean War, the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Hong Kong handover and the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries.
In 1986, Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to visit China, touring the Great Wall in Beijing and stopping in Xi’an, Kunming, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.
In recent years, however, the relationship between the U.K. and China has cooled due to political unrest in Hong Kong and allegations of human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang autonomous region. (It may cool much further with Liz Truss’ recent appointment as prime minister. Truss, the former foreign secretary, is known for her hawkish language on China.)
The hashtag ‘The British Queen Has Died’ (#英国女王去世#) began trending on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo mere hours after Queen Elizabeth II’s death was announced. It has since been viewed more than 3.5 billion times.
Most people have expressed the feeling that they are witnessing a changing of the guard and the end of an era. Others have used Queen Elizabeth II’s death as an opportunity to express their discontent with the legacy of Britain’s monarchy and colonial exploitation.
One user of the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo wrote, “She was the symbol of a colonialist system and a defender of imperialism. Her prosperity was built on the blood and tears of oppressed people worldwide.”
Chinese-Canadian author Xiran Jay Zhao has been outspoken about Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Twitter, tweeting, “Raise your hand if your country has been personally victimized by the British Empire” and “I will stop celebrating the Queen’s death when the British Museum returns all the artifacts it plundered.”
Many, however, have offered the Queen a simple “Rest in Peace.”
Tracing one’s Chinese ancestry can be a daunting task, particularly in the 21st century, as ancestral villages are lost to China’s urban expansion, and family histories are obscured by the passing of time.
Paradoxically, however, the internet age provides ancestral sleuths with unprecedented resources at their fingertips, from digitized burial records to government migration data, and, perhaps most importantly, a community of like-minded individuals dedicated to the search.
For the uninitiated, MCR is a company that offers a variety of Chinese roots-tracing services — think ancestral field research in China, roots trips to China, an extensive online database to find records related to your family history, and more. But unlike the services offered by the company, access to its Discord server and its community is entirely free of charge.
What began as an idea less than a year ago has evolved into a dynamic and ever-growing online community of over 1,200 strong. Today, the MCR Discord server is defined not only by its roots-tracing mission but also by the friendships, teamwork, and shared desire for cultural connection among its members from every corner of the global Chinese diaspora.
- The capital of China’s Sichuan province recently welcomed its first Shake Shack outlet, and the restaurant’s localization efforts are genuinely noteworthy. Chengdu residents flocked to the fast food outlet for its unique design, exclusive dishes, limited-edition merchandise, and — drumroll please — a 1,499 RMB (216 USD) mahjong set
- In a new fad on the Chinese internet, influencers have been dressing up like American high school students and posing in front of Ikea lockers in China.
- Shanghai’s opening up as one of China’s first commercial ports in the 19th century led to the creation of a diverse array of words starting with the character ‘yang’ (洋), some of which were absorbed into Mandarin.
Are you a gifted meme maker? Or a storyteller crazy about Chinese youth culture? Take a look below, because we’re currently hiring for the following positions: