Asia

The stories that 'broke' China's Internet in 2014

Updated 9:39 AM ET, Wed December 31, 2014
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Beijingers coined the wry phrase "APEC blue" after authorities resorted to extreme measures -- shutting factories and ordering mandatory holidays -- to turn the capital's skies blue during November's two-week APEC summit. The smog quickly returned once world leaders departed but the phrase lives on among the city's residents, who use it ironically to describe something beautiful that quickly disappears. "He's not really into you. It's APEC blue!" went one joke about a short-lived relationship.

Research and text by Serena Dong, Vicky Wong and Katie Hunt.
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Guo Meimei, 23, learned the hard way that social media is not the place to brag about illicit activities. The socialite had almost 2 million followers on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, where she was best known for showing off her wealth, looks and extravagant lifestyle. But her careless posts tipped off police that she'd been running a gambling den in an upscale apartment building. After her arrest in July, she appeared on state television in prison clothes and without makeup and confessed to funding her lavish lifestyle by being a $16,000-per-night prostitute. She's yet to appear in court.
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When star actor Wen Zhang, right, went public with his marital problems on Weibo in April it smashed all social media records, although perhaps not in a way he's proud of. Caught cheating on his then pregnant wife with a co-star, Wen's heartfelt apology attracted record numbers of comments and shares. But it was wife Ma Yili's (left) philosophical response that became an Internet meme: "Being in love is easy, being married is not. It is to be cherished," she tweeted in a phrase that has been widely mimicked. "Buying a new car is easy, getting a license plate is not. It is to be cherished," wrote one wag about Beijing's notorious car registration lottery. Feng Li/Getty
China's "dama" -- wealthy middle-aged ladies whose kids have left home -- first made waves in 2013 when they began buying up gold, sparking a global rally in the precious metal. This year, the Chinese Internet reacted with consternation when a group of dama were photographed dancing en masse outside the Louvre in Paris in April and shimmying on Moscow's Red Square in June. While it's common for "aunties" to strut their stuff in public spaces in China, many Internet users felt that they were giving China a bad name. "Overenthusiastic square dancers should take a step back," said an opinion piece in the official English-language China Daily. WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
Described by China's state broadcaster as "'Old MacDonald' on steroids," the "Chick Chick Song" by pop star Wang Rong became a viral hit, racking up 11.8 million hits on YouTube since October and 2.5 million on Chinese equivalent Youku. The video features the singer squawking and dancing like a chicken, dancers in poultry-themed outfits and topless men wearing animal masks. Wang Rong
It was in 2013 that Chinese President Xi Jinping first used the phrase "to hunt tigers and swat flies" to show his determination to take down corrupt officials of both low and high rank. But it was this year that the campaign really stepped up. When the official investigation into former security czar Zhou Yongkang, one of the country's most powerful men, was finally announced in late July, authorities also lifted a ban on using his name on social media. For months, "netizens" had been referring to Zhou by code names such as "Big Tiger," "Master Kang" -- a noodle brand that contains a character in Zhou's name -- or simply "you understand who I mean." Getty Images
The detention in July of one of China's most famous news anchors just minutes before he was about to go on air sent shock waves through Chinese social media. Rui Chenggang hosted CCTV's flagship "Economic News" show, which regularly drew more than 10 million viewers. One of China's most controversial TV personalities, he once led a successful campaign to get a Starbucks outlet kicked out of the Forbidden City. And in 2010, when U.S. President Obama said he would give the final question at a press conference in Seoul to South Korean media, Rui declared: "I'm actually Chinese, but I think I get to represent the entire Asia." Rui's arrest occurred a month after his boss was detained for allegedly accepting bribes. He has not yet appeared in court. ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images
Actor Jaycee Chan, left, son of screen legend Jackie Chan, and 23-year Taiwanese actor Kai Ko, right, were among at least eight Chinese celebrities who were caught in drug raids in 2014. The pair tested positive for marijuana. While Ko was released after 14 days in detention, Chan remains in police custody and in late December was charged with "sheltering others to take drugs."
Singer Li Daimo was sentenced to nine months in jail for hosting a crystal meth party at his home, according to the China Daily, while screenwriter and novelist Chen Wanning, known as Ning Caishen, was detained for possessing and using methamphetamine. Not content with using the full force of China's legal system, authorities also said entertainers who broke the law would have their work banned from the airwaves.
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A musical ode to President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan received more than 2 million hits in the five days when it appeared online in November. The three-minute video features more than 30 photos and cartoons of Xi and his wife and was created by a group of musicians in Zhengzhou. The songwriter calls the pair "Big Daddy Xi" and "Mama Peng" and said he was inspired by the "obvious" chemistry between them. "Men should learn from Xi Dada / women should learn from Peng Mama / to love like them / the warmth of love could warm millions of families," goes one refrain. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)