Great Mysteries of the Most Talked-about Chinese Writer – Han Han

Today (July 24th) is the premiere day of a closely watched Chinese film – 后会无期 (literally means Never Meet Again but officially The Continent), which will inevitably cause a lot of controversy, just like the great disputes on its 32-year old director – Han Han (韩寒), who published his maiden novel Triple Door (三重门) at 17 and caused enormous social repercussions.

The disputes on Han Han occurred at the beginning of 2012, when Internet celebrities Mai Tian (麦田) and Fang Zhouzi (方舟子) accused Han Han publicly of ghostwriting. They insisted that all Han Han’s novels and blogs were written by one or several ghostwriters, and Han Han’s father is the biggest suspect, who is a writer himself.

Han Han

Han Han

At first, almost no one believed what Mai Tian and Fang Zhouzi said, but as more and more evidences emerged, many supporters of Han changed sides, angry at being fooled for so many years, while others stubbornly believed Han is innocent.

In the lyric of his new movie’s theme song Ordinary Path, Han Han writes: “I owned everything, but they disappeared like smoke suddenly. I was depressed and disappointed, losing all my directions, till I find the only answer of being ordinary.”

Despite of what he wrote, Han Han still has countless die-hard fans and supporters in China, that’s why his virgin film attracted 50 million yuan RMB investment and immense attention.

As for the disputes on him, it seems undoubtedly that Han Han used ghostwriters, proofs include prior release of Han Han’s articles (deleted soon but unfortunately crawled by a search engine) on his father’s blog, unusually tidy manuscript of his first novel on which some Chinese characters seems to be transcribed into irrelevant ones with similar form, abundant allusions in his works occurred before Han Han was born and during his father’s youth, as well as few signs of literary talent or rich knowledge shown in video interviews, in sharp contrast to his brilliant works.

However, to what extent did he resort to ghostwriters? In other words, how many of his works are written by others? Is he really a literature idiot only good at picking up girls, as Fang Zhouzi said?

These questions have become great mysteries, and a bigger question is, why the current mainstream of public opinions doesn’t mention a word about the “Ghostwriting Gate” anymore, as if nothing ever happened? Instead, people in China, especially young people are filled with anticipation at Han Han’s new film.

The reasons are surely complicated. I remember a middle-aged Chinese writer once introspected himself and concluded: if someone were brainwashed by an authority since he is young, when he grows up, he will instinctively show sympathy and preference to the authority even if he rationally knows that the authority is wrong. This may explain a bit the weird situation of opinions towards Han Han in China.

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Why Chinese Youth Become Unprecedentedly Lazy?

Although Chinese have a reputation for being hard-working, the youth generation of Chinese today is unprecedentedly lazy.

Such laziness is reflected in all aspects of daily lives.

For example, most young people would never climb stairs as long as there is an elevator, even if their target floor is only the second floor. The same thing happens when they go downstairs, no matter how low they are and how long they need to wait.

And another example, when there is no bike in a public bike station, most young people prefer to call the dispatching center and wait for old staff to send bikes than go to another station with plenty bikes just 500m away.

The reason might be various. The typical one is that most youth people are not used to exercises, they have been busy with studies such childhood; besides, as most young people work in office today, they might be accustomed to sitting all day.

As a result, humpback, beer belly and weakness are very common for Chinese youth.

Otaku is often used to refer to young men (Zhai Nan 宅男) and women (Zhai Nv 宅女) in China, who naturally accept the label. They like to stay at home all day long in weekends and holidays, surfing on the internet.


Such phenomenon also exists in other countries, but it seems to be much more serious in China. One thing impressed me was that when I was in university, there are often more overseas students from South Korea than Chinese students swimming in the sea, especially in severe weathers, despite the fact that the number of Korean students was far less than Chinese students.

Statistics have shown that average height of young Chinese today is lower than their contemporaries in Japan and South Korea, which say a lot.


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Hypes Dominate China’s IT Industry

At a meeting with CEO of Lenovo Yang Yuanqing in China this year, CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk said he doesn’t like the conception of “marketing”, because it’s like “cheating people to buy something”. Instead, Yang Yuanqing defined “fans economy” as a kind of brand economy.

In China, marketing is taken as the top priority by IT companies, instead of quality or technology. Insufficient marketing can be dangerous.

A typical example is Meizu’s Smartphone, founder of Meizu J. Wong is a very low key man, unwilling to stand under spotlight, his MX series smartphones are among the best home products of China, but suffered low sales for years. In contrast, Xiaomi Phone’s founder Lei Jun is pretty high profile and good at marketing through social medias like; as a result, Xiaomi Phone has witnessed explosive sales.

J.Wong and Lei Jun

J. Wong and Lei Jun

According to J.Wong, before founding Xiaomi, Lei Jun met him as an angel investor, and elicited a lot of business secrets on phone production from him. As you can see, student can defeat his teacher by better marketing in China.

Luo Pang and Lao Luo I mentioned before are also masters of marketing, or you can call it hyping. To some extent, such approach is inspired by Steve Jobs, whose personal charisma greatly contributes to sales of iOS products in China, and he is a god in eyes of Chinese Internet entrepreneurs.

However, maybe it’s much harder to copy the spirit and ability of technical innovation, Jobs’ entrepreneur fans in China seldom talk about technologies of their products.

Similar phenomenon also exists in Chinese Internet media world. Many journalists, editors and even writers don’t believe in quality of content; instead, they believe in gossips, hyping, wild guesses and false reports, the target of which is to raise attention and expand popularity.

Moreover, shortcoming of content can be remedied easily by translating articles from their foreign counterparts.

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How Staff of China’s SOEs Keep Screwing Things Up?

When I got my position transferred and didn’t have to work with staff from China Mobile any longer, I felt relieved.

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China have been notorious for their inefficiency. As one of the largest SOEs in China, China Mobile is totally worthy of the reputation.

As one of the three mobile telecom carriers and the largest one of them, China Mobile never has to worry about revenue, yet its behaviors of arbitrary charging are not restrained until recent years.

Its monopoly position has inevitably caused inefficiency, and even stupidness. Sometimes you just cannot imagine how inefficient and stupid they are.


Instead of being constructive and helpful, staff of China Mobile I met are almost always uncooperative, destructive and superfluous in work. Knowing little about what they are responsible for, they are good at suspecting, rejecting and discarding your plans, but proposing ridiculous and infeasible ones. The torturous thing is that, as an employee from the outsourcing company, I had to rely on their rights to get things down.

I worked in a government institution before for three years, the government agencies are also inefficient, but staff there are not stupid; they may be idle, but they seldom screw things up. That’s the difference.

Usually senior management of China Mobile tries to make some achievements and stop private enterprises from snatching food from their jaws, but they always fail.

A typical example is Fetion, an IM product designed to compete with QQ, which is the most popular IM tool from Tencent, but a series of strategic mistakes and product defects have prevented Fetion from becoming really popular, even though China Mobile has unmatched natural advantages and deep pockets for marketing.

Such situation is attributable to its rigid work mechanism, as well as ignorant staff and negative outsourcing companies, who are used to present deceptive and meaningless KPIs, it’s easy to fudge numbers by taking improper calculation methods or referring to inaccurate sources.

China’s new administration has vowed to promote efficiency of SOEs, but there is a long and hard way ahead.

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Migrant Workers and Their Mobile Gaming Exploiters in China


The above is a photo of ironic contrast.

The nearby low temporary buildings are dorms of migrant workers, and the distant mansions are built by the migrant workers; meanwhile, people working in the mansions are making mobile games for their target users – the migrant workers.

I took this picture downstairs, yes, I’m one of the staff in the mansions, yet not the kind of people thinking about earning players’ money all day, like game designers.

At first thought, it may seem strange that migrant workers are target players of mobile games, but explanation from game developers is: migrant workers have very few entertainment activities, and mobile game is a good choice for them.

The subtexts are: the workers are very easy to be satisfied, and they are willing to pay for inferior games; besides, they are easy to be cheated, for illegal hidden charging does exist, or the paying button would jump out suddenly to make you hit it by accident.

These are the facts.

Although some mobile developers in China claim that even their front desk clerks are game lovers, their products have little appeal for hardcore players or ordinary people who do not play games often, compared to overwhelming popular games from the west, such as Angry Birds and Clash of Clans.

They admit that their target customers are the “Three Lows” population, “Three Lows” refer to “low income, low educational degree and low age”, migrant workers and students are typical of them.

Anyhow, along with the popularity of smartphones, mobile gaming has been booming such 2013, producing lots of millionaires and billionaires, but situation of their target customers are not likely to become better.

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Lost Chinese Youth Intrigued by Emerging Civil Brainwashers

As China is experiencing its pain of social and economic transformation and the new generation is entering their adulthood, the young generation gets lost.

The Chinese youth, especially the 80s (born in the 1980s), are eager for suggestions from the older generations, meanwhile impatient of preaches of their old-fashioned parents.

A new kind of youth tutors emerge under such circumstances, they make good use of popular social medias, including Weibo (a prevailing Chinese micro-blog website) and WeChat. And Luo Zhenyu (nicknamed Luo Pang, which means Fat Luo) and Luo Yonghao (nicknamed Lao Luo, which means Old Luo) are typical figures among them.

Luo Pang opened his own talk show channel “Luo Ji Si Wei” (罗辑思维) at, calling himself a “Read Man” and committing to narrate and explain good books for his followers, who may not have the patience of actually reading a book. He also presents a 60-second speech via Wechat every morning, commenting on professional careers, lives and current affairs in China and giving his seem-to-be pertinent and reliable advices. By doing these, he has successfully attracted millions of young people in China and charged millions of RMB from some of these youth, who are referred to as fans, or die-hard fans.

And Lao Luo, a former English teacher of GRE, has been boasting about his deep understanding of mobile phone and outstanding aesthetic ability of user interface and icons on the phone at Weibo for a long time. By his “strong ability of marketing” praised by Chinese tech media blogs, Lao Luo managed to win hearts of tons of Chinese young people and also developed a large number of die-hard fans. Lao Luo has made himself a popular star, whose words and behaviors are admired and repeated by his fans on China’s internet.

Luo Pang & Lao Luo

Luo Pang & Lao Luo

Luo Pang and Lao Luo are also mentioned a lot by Chinese media and are acknowledged as a representative of “We Media” and “Marketing Master” respectively. Their “playing methods” – tactics are discussed, worshiped and imitated by countless Internet practitioners.

But problems also follow, Luo Pang is criticized by some people as “cheating” and “brainwashing” young people, some of his opinions including completely denying traditional Chinese medicine are being resisted and disproved, and the first batch of Lao Luo’s mobile phones are undergoing quality crisis. However, die-hard fans would not give them up easily.

Even though idols like the Luos may offer many inspirations and good advices to the youth, Chinese young people should learn to think independently and keep their independent personality first.

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Weak Awareness of Internet Copyright in China

Last night I told my wife I’ve opened an English blog. This move is a bit confusing because my Chinese blog is under good operation and has a lot of readers, but my wife understood it after I explained.

One important drive is that, I’m losing my passion and impetus of writing Chinese posts, and a major reason for this is the poor copyright consciousness of Chinese.

My Chinese posts are often wholly republished by other blogs without my permission. In some cases, they even claim that the posts are their original works.

I’ve taken various measures to prevent such malicious copying, such as implanting my name and blog name into the posts, but they can be easily removed by the plagiarists.

Similar situation even exists in media sites operated by legitimate companies. For example,, a very famous Chinese blog on internet start-ups, rose by translating articles from Till today, a large number of their posts are translated and edited from famous blogs in the U.S., without any authorization.

Now has set up its own Chinese site, and a verbal battle on plagiarism broke out between the two sites early this year.

But the situation is different outside mainland China, my wife once worked at a Taiwanese publishing company – Kang Hsuan Educational Publishing Group, who often pays high prices for a single photo to be used in their publications, but this is unthinkable for internet media sites in mainland China.

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SEO Obsession in China

As I made traffic of Mobile Gaming Portal of China Mobile grow several times, many companies in Nanjing want an interview with me, but we always disappoint each other.

In my opinion, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just an auxiliary means for content of websites, but those companies don’t think so, SEO is their panacea.

For them, SEO has little to do with content, and the word SEO is equivalent to black hat SEO, which is unacceptable for an editor, translator and writer like me.

Therefore, I wrote in my online resume that I don’t accept pure SEO position, which has nothing to do with content. It seems that interview calls of SEO posts have decreased since then, but still there are some HR personnel don’t understand it.

I attended an interview this Monday, the interviewer told me on the phone that the post was about copywriting and online marketing, and they need to determine my position after an interview.

But during the interview, the interviewer said he is most interested in my SEO specialty. He seemed to be regardless of what I wrote in the resume, what I explained on the phone, and my current title of “Chief Editor”.

I have to say, idiots always exist.

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I’m a blogger, editor and translator from China, now chief editor of a mobile gaming media site in Nanjing city.
This is my English blog.
"Internet in China" refers to the special internet environment in China blocking foreign services and creating unique phenomena.
Contact: (#→@)
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