Cartoons


Nip and stuck?
Oct 20, 2017 (WiC 384)

Facial recognition has become a hot investment theme in China, with the technology being used ever more widely (see WiC380). But a flaw in the concept may have been revealed by three Chinese women who are now stranded in South Korea. The issue: their faces are unrecognisable after having gone through extensive plastic surgery.

Media reports that during this month’s eight-day long National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday period, planeloads of Chinese women went to South Korea – arguably the plastic surgery capital of the world – to change their faces. However, Oriental Daily then pointed out that getting home was proving tricky. On October 10 it posted a photo of three women at a South Korean airport who had been unable to board their plane. Passport control officers reportedly told them they looked nothing like their passport photos and could not leave the country until “relevant departments” could confirm their identity.

The news sparked ridicule across China’s internet where a post went viral that stated “Even your mother wouldn’t know who you are!” Chinese customs officials also confirmed plastic surgery is a concern.

However, could this be just the latest example of a ‘fake news’ item? Website SupChina cites a subsequent South Korean newspaper report where the justice ministry in Seoul denied the incident.

Breaking the ice
Oct 6, 2017 (WiC 383)

“I came to China to see the Great Wall, to see hockey and eat insects,” Jolyn Tardio an LA Kings season-ticket holder jokingly told the Globe and Mail. Though not about the middle part: she was in Shanghai late last month to watch a series of matches being played in China by NHL teams, the Kings and the Vancouver Canucks.

The newspaper noted that while the stadium in Shanghai was only half-full, enthusiasm levels were high. A 27 year-old legal adviser named Wei was enthralled by the rough and tumble of the pacy, top-flight hockey. “Even if it involves some attacking and bodily harm, the experience of that excitement and the vibe of the live game is so unique,” she commented. The Kings won that game 5-2, but the match was closer a few days later in Beijing where the contest finished overtime tied at 3-3 and ended in a shootout (which the Kings again won). This time the LA Times was on hand to witness the slapshot action and saw a crowd of 13,000 munch popcorn and cheer at the spectacle.

CCTV now broadcasts four games a week from the North American league (whose 2017-18 season started on Wednesday) and the LA Times noted that the NHL’s entry into China comes at an “auspicious time”. That’s because China will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and its leader Xi Jinping has announced a plan to get 300 million Chinese involved in winter sports. Ice hockey is one of the sports being encouraged, as China seeks to boost its potential medal count at the 2022 games.

As the LA Times points out Chinese athletes won just nine medals at the 2014 Winter Olympiad, versus 70 at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Of course, ice hockey is starting from a low base in China, with only around 3,000 kids playing it regularly in the Chinese capital.

The LA Times noted that the NHL’s entry into China – CCTV now broadcasts four games a week from the North American league (whose 2017-18 season started on Wednesday) – comes at an “auspicious time”. That’s because China will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and its leader Xi Jinping has announced a plan to get 300 million Chinese involved in winter sports. Ice hockey is one of the sports being encouraged, as China seeks to boost its potential medal count at the 2022 games.

As the LA Times points out Chinese athletes won just nine medals at the 2014 Winter Olympiad, versus 70 at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Of course, ice hockey is starting from a low base in China, with only around 3,000 kids playing it regularly in the Chinese capital. But participation is rapidly growing. As we pointed out in WiC379, ice hockey has been identified by affluent parents as an ‘elitist’ sport that might help their kids get into good schools. As one Beijing mother told China Daily: “We can’t deny that to play hockey in China, you have to be economically well-off. You can play soccer or basketball anywhere and wear anything you like, but you have to be well equipped for hockey.”

Overweight Shanghai?
Sep 29, 2017 (WiC 382)

With big money comes big expectations, and it turns out Carlos Tevez isn’t fulfilling them for his Chinese football club. In January the Argentine striker moved to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua for a reported salary of $875,000 a week – a sum that makes him the game’s highest paid player. However, since arriving in China Tevez has scored only three goals in 13 matches and struggled with injury. This led the club’s chairman Wu Xiaohui to tell local media that Tevez “did not meet expectations”. Worse the club’s new coach Wu Jingui – who replaced the recently fired Uruguayan manager Gus Poyet – has accused him of being overweight.

Evidently the unhappiness flows both ways. In spite of being handsomely paid, Tevez has not been shy about criticising his new surroundings. In an interview with South American TV show La Casa del Futbol he dismissed Chinese players with the remark “technically they are not very good”. And he says that on its current trajectory, China’s league has a very long way to go before it rivals the top divisions like the English Premiership and Spain’s La Liga. “Their football is very different. I don’t think they are going to get to the same heights, not even in 50 years,” he said.

Tevez has previously enjoyed success with leading European clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus. So if the quality of the Chinese Super League is so much lower than in Europe (as he has made plain in his TV comments), you’d think the prolific striker – who scored 39 goals in 66 appearances for Juventus – ought to be scoring hat tricks in most games. The fact that he isn’t hitting the back of the net perhaps lends credence to the view of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua’s chairman that Tevez is underperforming or else that the 33 year-old is simply well past his best.