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So it’s been agreed long ago and we won’t be original at all when we say that China is one peculiar place.

Today we selected top 3 most culturally shocking – in our humble opinion – Chinese phenomena. Here we go!

1.FAKE DIVORCE -假离婚. 假 jiǎ líhūn


A brief ‘contemporary history’ note. In March 2013, in order to control  housing prices, the State Council announced that those who owned more than one apartment would have to pay 20% tax on the capital gains when they sold the second house (when previously it was just 1 to 2 %). And if that wasn’t enough, banks in Shanghai were banned from granting loans for buying a third home, and in Beijing an individual could purchase ONLY 1 home. BUT! Necessity is the mother of invention. Especially in  China.  Resourceful citizens, anxious to allocate loads of Mao ye-ye-s in real estate, had been thinking so intensively, that they discovered how to act ‘outside the box’ – or rather ‘outside the marriage’. The loophole in this vicious law allowed the couple to avoid higher tax if they split up, so after divorce (which btw costs just a FEW YUAN!)  each ex-spouse could own one house. And that’s not all – following líhūn, one individual can freely and ‘generously’ transfer home ownership to the ex-spouse AND even purchase  a new house as a first time buyer (which frequently comes with incentives). Next steps – sell one property, and then just romantically – remarry. Simple as that.  According to Reuters, in early March of 2013 in just one of Shanghai’s districts 53 couples filed for divorce. And last year, a grand total of 53, 244 couples ‘happily’ divorced in Shanghai. It’s no longer weddings or birthday parties in China, but the jiǎ líhūn days that became the most joyful events attracting the attendance of the entire family.

2.SQUARE DANCING - 广– guǎng chǎng wǔ


A quick peek at the historical background to explain that: in 1949 modern China began. More than ten years later, General Mao put the Cultural Revolution into effect. During that time, smart individuals were sent to the countryside to spread the love for Chairman Mao and his visions. And it was there, in the rural areas, where Mao’s cohort witnessed how the peasants, not really excited about the extreme requirements for food production, relieved their fatigue. The key word was Yangge – a popular, traditional performance , practiced in the North during special celebrations on the agricultural calendar, like harvest time. And since fun has the biggest impact on people, the Communist Party tried to take advantage of it – they politicized Yangge, appropriating it to communicate their own messages. Its goal was also to relieve the tense relationship between the party and the people. Soon after they changed their minds, though, and Yangge was banned, just like any other forms of art. Fortunately, fun memories die hard and the generations who experienced the Cultural Revolution kept the tradition of collective dancing alive. So when China was born again thanks to Deng Xiaoping and his ‘gaige kaifang’ ( open policy ), the aging people who experienced Cultural Revolution in their teens didn’t hesitate for too long how they wanted to spend their found leisure time and keep fit. This is how 广 – guǎng chǎng – square ;  ( short form of 跳舞 – tiào wǔ) dancing – was born. Even now, no matter which Chinese city you visit – Shanghai, Beijing or Sanya – one thing they all have in common – guǎng chǎng wǔ is still a daily ritual. Every day between 7 and 8 at various squares, parks, or closed communities you will see them all – the tuhao ones and the humble diaosi , in their 50s and up, some even dressed to impress, gathered on a flat, paved area, ready to rock their grooving moves. Although the dance can be pretty much free styled, the space itself needs to meet quite a few criteria that were observed in a serious study on guǎng chǎng wǔ. The area needs to: 1) Be flat and paved 2) Have overhead lighting for nighttime dancing 3) Be large enough for 30 – 60 bodies 4) Have overhead protection from burning sunshine 5)Be an appropriate distance from residential areas or office buildings to avoid noise complaints 6) Include nearby facilities for resting 7) Have a special boundary to help create a sense of place 8) Be close to home 9) Be visible to spectators. Quite a list – isn’t it?


Picture source:

Back in 2014,Zhang Shifan - a representative of powerful social group in China – called  dà mā or simply – ‘old grannies’ (yes – the same ones you see around 8 pm all over China taking over various squares to show off their dancing skills of guǎng chǎng wǔ ) came up with a one-of – a kind initiative. It was so arresting that it even gained a foothold in fancy French circles. First, one important reminder.

The Chinese ideal of beauty is white skin. And rule number one to remember is ' yí bái zhē bǎi chǒu’ – white skin can hide hundreds of defects’. That’s why, especially during summer, cosmetic giants usually rub their hands, expecting to make millions on Chinese women ready to spend any amount just to keep their skin white. Well, that’s how it used to be until last year, when the dà mā gang launched their counter attack.. The clever grannies decided to change beach fashion forever. Not just in China , but worldwide, as it turns out. They designed a unique mask that covers a swimmer’s whole head and neck, down to the collar bones. Only eyes, nostrils and mouth get a peekaboo at the sun. This groundbreaking invention bears the name 脸基尼 (liǎn jī ní ) and consists of two words:  liǎn – face and 基尼 jī ní – bikini and its Chinglish version goes ‘face-kini’.

Picture source:

On October 15 Zhang Shifan released the seventh generation of her product on a mountaintop in Qingdao, Shandong province. The new model is a balaclava cap crocheted from wool that can be worn while working outdoors, taking part in winter sports or traveling in cold weather, according to Zhang. Drawing inspiration from an octopus, the design has a thick, black, wool “mustache” around the mouth, which is used to absorb heat from the sun and block cold air, she said.

Agree with us? Or would you add other items to the list? Let us know!

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