A Beginner's Guide to Chinese Karaoke

If you like the classics:

It doesn’t get much more classic than Teresa Teng, and you won’t go wrong with any of her songs. But the first two selections here are perhaps the most popular -- and it doesn’t hurt that the lyrics are incredibly easy to learn. Incorporate cheesy hand gestures and they become crowd-pleasers as well. The third selection, “A Lover’s Tears,” is also a widely-covered classic that could rightly be cross-listed under “Workin’ through some stuff.”

  • 甜蜜蜜  (邓丽君) “Sweet”

  • 小城故事 (邓丽君) “Small-town Story”


  • 情人的眼泪 (蔡琴) “A Lover’s Tears”



For anyone with two ears and a heart:

I have made it my life’s mission to make everyone I know watch the first song listed below, Jin Chi’s audition on The Voice of China. It is emotional and heartwarming and her voice is off the charts. She didn’t win that season, which frankly is a travesty, but at least we have these excellent karaoke tunes to help us deal with it.

  • 夜夜夜夜 (金池)

  • 心在跳 (金池)


Turn it all the way up:

Have you ever been out singing karaoke and looked up and realized you can’t see the table in front of you for all the empty beer bottles and peanut shells? Maybe you’re also feeling like it would be a good idea to order another round or two cause you’ve been having so much fun? Well, instead of imbibing your way into an alcoholic coma, select one of the following songs to belt out with your friends. Neither is very easy to sing in tune at maximum decibel levels, but by this point you are likely too drunk to care.


  • You Are My Superstar (S.H.E.)

  • 死了都要爱 (信乐团)


If you like a challenge:

Everything by Jay Chou (周杰伦)

Do not trust your ears while trying to learn the lyrics to these songs. Jay is my fave, but his putonghua is not what you would call “standard” or even “intelligible.” Still, he is one of the most talented Chinese musicians alive today, and most of his songs are top-notch. He touches on classic themes like love and loss, while his song “Listen to your Mom” (听妈妈的话) emphasizes filial piety (plus, the rap section is great for testing your language limits). The final song listed here, “The Secret That Cannot Be Told,” is also the theme song of a 2007 sci-fi-romance-thriller by the same name, starring Jay Chou himself.

  • 发如雪 “Hair Like Snow”

  • 听妈妈的话 “Listen to Your Mom”

  • 龙卷风 “Tornado”

  • 不能说的秘密 “The Secret That Cannot Be Told”


Workin’ through some stuff:

What good is karaoke if you can’t use it to deal with the feels? Not much. Each of these songs is about a different flavor of rejection. The “Happy Breakup” I’ve listed here - the cover by Taiwanese rock band Power Station - is actually the more upbeat of two versions of the song. If you’re feeling too mopey to tackle their take on it, go for the original with Fish Leong (梁靜茹).

  • 可惜不是你 (梁靜茹) “It’s a shame it wasn’t you”

  • 分手快乐 (动力火车) “Happy Breakup”

  • 普通朋友 (David Tao - 陶喆) “Just Friends”



Science has proven that two mics are better than one. For optimum fun, run through these ahead of time with your duet partner and wow the shit out of everyone in the room. Bonus points for “You Are a Song in my Heart” -- the harmonization will require you to actually practice, and parts of it are in Hokkein, not Mandarin.

  • 你是我心内的一首歌 “You Are a Song in my Heart” (Leehom Wang & Selina)

  • 千里之外 “Far Away” (Jay Chou & Fei Yu-ching)

  • 今天你要嫁给我 “Today You Will Marry Me” (David Tao & Jolin Tsai)


So you wanna dance with somebody:

This song is pretty ridiculous, but it will get everybody on their feet. You’re only really doing it properly if you make the same nonsense noises as the singers in the video and crank up the volume for “1, 2, 3, GO!” Use the tambourines too. That’s what they’re there for.

  • 嘻唰唰 “Xi Shua Shua” (花儿乐队)


Trying to be smooth, huh?

Accept no substitutes: David Tao’s “The Beach” is the song you’re looking for. His crooning melody and melancholy expression will have all the girls/guys swooning over you in no time.

  • 沙滩 “The Beach”


I love you, man:

Like a Chinese version of “Closing Time,” Zhou Huajian’s “Friends” is a great song to end the night with. It’s got everything: a music video of rugby players hugging it out, easy-to-remember lyrics, and a heavy emphasis on how awesome friends are. This song almost always ends with everyone putting their arms around each other’s shoulders and swaying back and forth. Be careful of selecting it too early or the rest of the night can get a little anti-climactic.

  • 朋友 “Friends” (周华健)


What do you see in the Hong Kong protests?

I asked this of my friend Vikas Hsin, who was taking part in the protests: what they were like and why people were out on the streets? She wrote the following about what she sees as the causes and central aims of the protest. I've translated her essay into English, and the original Chinese is below.


The people of Hong Kong are known for their apathy toward politics. “Occupy Central” had been floating around for over a year; most assumed it to be merely the laughable rhetoric of a few marginal politicians. The “Student Boycott” had been in the works for months, and many thought it was just a bunch of young people carried away with their own political idealism. It was August 31 when Beijing announced it had approved the controversial draft on the framework of proposed elections in the city, crushing hope of true universal suffrage for which so many had fought, but even this did not stir many of the city’s residents to action. As of September 22, only a few thousand out of Hong Kong’s over seven million residents had joined sit-in protests. But when the first tear gas and pepper spray were released into the air on the night of Sunday, September 28, when police forced down the first line of protesters, social media selfies began to disappear, replaced by yellow ribbons. In that moment, 87 canisters of tear gas were enough to bring tears to the eyes of all of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s student movement began to coalesce in 2011, when students, parents and teachers alike stood up against proposed changes to the educational curriculum – changes that would have introduced “patriotic education” that some thought was little more than brainwashing. But this movement’s momentum was limited, it lacked professional training. So why did authorities send riot police against them, armed with tear gas and batons?

You could say it was because of bad judgment calls – on the part of the police and government as well as the protesters. Occupy Central, which had been scheduled to start on October 1st, announced Sunday morning that it would begin early, so the police officers in charge of maintaining order there traded a day of rest at home with their families for duty on the front lines. And as these police gathered, the students who had been there for days also became those protecting order on the front lines. Without any single leader, the goals of the protesters were disparate, and as a result, things began to spiral out of control on the scene. The police attacked the people they were supposed to protect, and the people screamed at the police officers they were supposed to trust.

The most heartbreaking part of it all was that the night pitted Hong Kongers against each other, though we all love this place we call home. The more tear gas was fired, the more people came running to the scene. It didn’t change the fact that some of us are still politically apathetic, some didn’t necessarily have a clear stance on the political reform. Some were not even inclined to support the student movement or Occupy Central. But because they believed that the democracy movement should not become a scene of violence, they gathered one by one, carrying their umbrellas. It was not for political beliefs, or for economic reasons, or for the causes of factions. They wanted peace for the people of Hong Kong.

On September 29th, a dreary Monday, public transit saw no crowds of professionals on their way to work. Those riding buses would smile when they saw another person wearing black in protest. Victoria Harbour, Admiralty, Causeway Bay, and Mong Kok, major commercial and political areas in Hong Kong, were paralyzed. The wide streets and small alleyways were blockaded, and the doors of stores shut tight. Protesters came by foot and bicycle, and people from all over Hong Kong donated generously to them.

Every ten meters or so, a makeshift stand would hand out water, food, sweets, fruit, tissues, face masks, goggles, ponchos, cooling patches, plastic wrap, and umbrellas. In each area, these donated goods seemed inexhaustible in their supply, coming in batches delivered almost continuously, just as people were constantly collecting trash and recycling. This was a peaceful demonstration neither violent nor uncivilized.

At five o' clock, students arrived in their uniforms, carrying their book bags. At seven, professionals came in their business attire and their high heels. At nine, young people, ethnic minorities who grew up in Hong Kong and spoke fluent Cantonese, arrived on the scene to proclaim their support for the peaceful movement. Around eleven, tattooed punks began to arrive by motorcycle and delivery truck, unloading material goods to help those gathered there. Such a spontaneous outpouring of mutual aid was unprecedented in Hong Kong, and brought rounds of applause as well as tears as protesters welcomed the selfless donations from people of all walks of life, and everyone put aside their disagreements and differences. On that night, a feeling of peace truly suffused the over 100,000 Hong Kongers who had joined together.

But underneath that peace there was a current of anxiety. The shut-off areas were too peaceful. Some began to play games with the donated goods, some brought their pets to the crowds to enjoy the atmosphere, some got riled up and demanded protesters march to the front lines, and some politicians even seized microphones and called for the downfall of the CPC. The peaceful movement had begun to change, turning into a carnival or an extremist meeting.

But just as things reached this point, people gathered there began to call for the crowds to calm down and be cautious, reminding everyone that this movement was about peace, and urging them not to forget its original purpose – they were not here to have a good time, or to lash out in violence, but to seek peace together. Everyone was able to calm down, and unite once more.

Although this peaceful movement was not a single entity, there was a special kind of understanding everyone shared, an understanding that when a clash with the front line of police occurred, everyone would step back and disperse, not hold fast and oppose them. This sounds like a kind of retreat, but in truth it was the peaceful resistance of Hong Kongers, who are not violent vandals but law-abiding citizens. We knew that we did not need to sacrifice those on the front lines, only to act rationally, as a united whole. Although physically advancing is a form of progress, in this particular instance, retreat was a better choice. After waiting until the site became more orderly, everyone silently returned to their originally positions, opened their umbrellas and sat down in silence, sticking together in non-violent resistance.

The power of the Internet was easy to see in all aspects of the movement. Protesters distributed needed items to the various areas they were gathered based on information they received via smartphone and app, while updates on the status of different groups were shared in the same fashion. But at the same time, misinformation crept in, and some people tried to stir up trouble and spread lies.

Several times, it seemed that things might erupt in violence. Conspiracy theorists believed that this was a plot by China’s central government, that once the protests got out of control, they would have reason to use the troops based in Hong Kong to crush them. Whether true or not, when things began to shift, Hong Kongers who had remained at home took to their computers and waged an all-out war against the false reports, and protesters on the scene verified and disproved the rumors floating around. They also reminded everyone not to be fooled or incited to rash acts. Though the police may have acted improperly, the people of Hong Kong did not need to strike back. The government may have been cruel in its enforcement of the law, but the people protesting had no need of violent retaliation. The purpose of the umbrella movement is to demand change with peace, to respond with peace. It began this way, progressed this way, and at each turn, at each moment it might spin out of control, it remained this way, depending on everyone working together to maintain calm.

In that respect, is it not much like psychological warfare? Perhaps, but the people of Hong Kong have not started a war nor have they engaged in one – they have only resisted peacefully. 








MIIT: It is forbidden to install five types of malicious software on smartphones

State-run media reported today that Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released new restrictions on software that may be installed on smartphones, to take effect later this year. Internet users have noted that the 4th provision of this announcement may be the most notable, as it could be used to further restrict freedom of speech. The full translation of the article is below.


MIIT: It is forbidden to install five types of malware on smartphones


Source: Beijing Morning Post

Beijing Morning Post (Journalist Jiao Likun): The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology posted the “Notice Concerning Enhancing Mobile Smartphone End-client Management” on its official website yesterday, enhancing management of internet access by smartphones. In the notice, the MIIT clearly addressed public complaints that have long circulated about malware, clearly outlining “five major software that are forbidden to install.”


The MIIT made clear that in recent years, mobile smartphone end-clients have developed rapidly, and while they have benefited users with their convenience, all kinds of security issues have come about; for example, some collect users’ information without their permission; this seriously infringes upon users' legal rights. This “Notice” further clarifies regulations related to management of smartphone internet access, and forbids manufacturers from installing apps with the following characteristics:

1) Those that actively collect and alter users’ personal information without notifying or obtaining agreement from the user;

2) Those that actively alter the end communications functions without notifying or obtaining agreement from the user, resulting in a waste of data, monetary losses, information leaks, and other negative consequences;

3) Those that impact the normal functionality and secure communications network operations of mobile smartphone end clients;

4) Those that contain informational content whose posting and dissemination is forbidden in
“Regulation on Telecommunications of the People's Republic of China;”

5) Those that infringe upon the personal information security and legal rights of users or diminish network and information safety in other ways.


In June of last year, the MIIT submitted this Notice to the public to seek feedback on it. In the past several years, smartphones have become increasingly prevalent; however, problems involving issues such as information security and malware charging users fees have spiked sharply.


The aforementioned “Notice” will take effect on November 1st, 2013. Companies have been given six months to comply before it becomes officially enforced. The MIIT requires cellphone manufacturers to improve their products in accordance with relevant standards, and improve cellphone security. Furthermore, from April to December of this year, the MIIT will carry out a campaign against spam messages; the long-discussed “Regulations on the Management of Communications Messaging Services” is expected to come out shortly. 


SARFT to enhance control over editors’ online activities

This article was published nearly simultaneously by almost all state-run media organizations in China. I could not find the actual notice spoken of on the SARFT (State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television) website, but I have translated the article about the regulations in full below:



SARFT to enhance control over editors’ online activities

14:14:44 4/16/2013

Source: China Publishing Press and Publishing Journal


Editors setting up professional Weibo accounts must receive approval from their work units; if they have not received approval, they may not publish any information obtained through their professional activities.


   ● All news work units are forbidden from using news/informational products from foreign media or foreign websites without first obtaining permission;

   ●It is expressly forbidden for editors to use internet platforms to participate in activities such as seeking illegal benefits; such editors will be investigated according to the law;

   ●News work units that have established official Weibo accounts must keep records for their managing work unit and appoint a person to be responsible for posting information.


In order to allow the internet to play as active a role as possible, and in order to promote the establishment of a healthy news order, SARFT recently released “Notice on Enhancing Control over Editors’ Online Activities,” which requires that control be enhanced over news editors’ use of online information and registering of personal Weibo accounts, as well as other online activities.


The “Notice” requires that news editors must uphold the policy of encouraging unity and stability, and promoting positive coverage in the main, while actively using traditional media, news sites, blogs, Weibo accounts and other methods of information dissemination to broadcast mainstream information, guide public opinion, and take the initiative to  reject leaks and broadcasts of harmful information; they must not use or report online information that has not been verified through official channels, and must not disseminate or repost online rumors or speculative information.


The “Notice” outlined “3 Steps Forward”: one step forward in the improved regulation of news editors’ actions, one step forward in the enhancement of management over media news websites, and one step forward in the management of blogs and Weibo. Of these, in the portion pertaining to improved regulation of news editors activities, the “Notice” requires strict control over news editorial activities and the editorial and review process by news work units; and the prevention of the production of false news intended to gain as many readers, viewers and listeners as possible through one-sided, sensationalist coverage. All news work units are also forbidden from using news or informational products from foreign media or foreign websites without first obtaining permission.


Regarding the one step forward in the enhancement of management over media news websites, the “Notice” requires that news work units must enhance control over news website content-review process checkpoints and the online activities of news editors, and must strictly review and verify all information posted by news websites according to the standards and procedures by which traditional media report the news. It is forbidden to lend, rent out or entrust news editorial work in websites and website channels to others, and it is forbidden for individuals without news journalist permits to interview others or post reports on websites or online channels. All news work units are forbidden from posting unverified information provided from news “informants,” special authors, public organizations, commercial organizations, or other sources without receiving permission.


As for the one step forward in enhancing control over blogs and Weibo, the “Notice” requires that news work units that have established official Weibo accounts must keep records for their managing work nuit and appoint a person to be responsible for posting information. It also requires that they must quickly delete harmful information. News editors must receive permission from their work units to set up professional Weibo accounts, and must not post information on Weibo that violates laws, regulations, or managing rules from their own media organizations. Without approval, they are not permitted to post any kind of information obtained through their professional activities.


The “Notice” has also clearly regulated the enhancement of supervision over the news and public opinion, requiring news work units to continuously enhance and improve the supervision and control over public opinion. News editors are not allowed to exploit control over public opinion to seek readers, advertising, or assistance from grassroots organizations or individuals; they are not allowed to post false information online, and without review, verification, and approval from their news organization, are not allowed to publish news information obtained through professional interviews on foreign websites.


Furthermore, the “Notice” makes clear that news and publishing industry government administrative departments everywhere and all news and media management work units must fully carry out their responsibilities in management according to their region and level, and must enhance supervision and management of news journalists and their news activities in local media, media under their jurisdiction, and journalists in their jurisdiction from central media organizations, as well as central media branch organizations, and local channels on news sites.


Editors using internet platforms to participate in activities such as seeking illegal benefits must be expressly opposed, and will be investigated according to the law; these editors may be barred for an appropriate period of time, or forbidden in perpetuity, from working as news editors. (Journalist Pu Yasu)



Li Chengpeng on the murder of Haobo: "Evil never walks alone, but with its like"


Recently, a car thief discovered a 2-month-old infant was in the car he had stolen, and murdered the child, burying her in the snow. The case has drawn national attention in China, dominating discussion on social media. Below is my translation of an essay by Li Chengpeng, detailing his thoughts on the case. 
Evil never walks alone, but with its like
1. The story is really very simple. A husband and wife opened a small convenience store, one with a chain security gate. They drove to the store with their child. It was cold, and the husband went in first to turn on the heat. The wife saw that the 2-month-old baby girl was sleeping soundly, and entered without turning off the light. After ten minutes, they came back out to find that the car and baby were both gone. This tragedy is really quite simple. It’s just like the time that a mother went upstairs to take down the clothes she had hung out to dry, and her 2-year-old child Xiao Yueyue somehow ran out into the street to play, and was hit by a car. 
2. These tragedies have nothing to do with the system, there are evil people in the world, that’s all. Sooner or later, you’re bound to come into contact with the evil of humanity. My grandfather told me, before he passed, that not all people you see walking along the streets are human: some are demons wearing human clothes.
3. I don’t deny that the mother of little Haobo made a mistake. Even if she was leaving her daughter in the car to help her stay waarm, she should have considered the danger posed by those 10 minutes. However, looking back, many of us have grown up in such rough environments, with the keys to our house hanging around our necks, running wildly through busy streets and industrial areas. We have slid down bannisters in tall buildings, run away to swim in the river without telling anyone…Haobo’s mother is just an example of a small mistake leading to a big mistake, and not an example of criminal neglect. I don’t think the mother should be charged. She has already been subjected to the cruelest punishment on earth.
4. There have been too many children who have died in unusual circumstances lately. What I care about more is whether we can do something for the future of other children. Undoubtedly, the social reform that we are promoting actually means we must change ourselves, including the way we raise and educate children. Chinese parents’ love for their children is a matter of bloodlines, and lacks societal abilities. Parents that can afford a car, but haven’t bought a child seat for their baby, who can’t bear to let their children run from them in a field, but let him run up to the roof to jump off…some Chinese parents don’t understand ways of supervising children in modern society, and they need guidance.
5. However, China’s law protecting minors seems to be a long-form essay full of slogans, not even as specific as the regulations in a high-class neighborhood’s property bylaws. There are no guidelines for implementation or quantitative standards. Every state of the US, on the other hand, has detailed laws requiring the minimum age at which children can be alone at home without parental supervision: in Maryland and Georgia, it is 8 years old; in North Dakota, it’s under 9; in Washington it’s 10; in Nebraska it’s 11; in Colorado it’s 12, in Illinois it’s 14. Around the same time those 4 boys drowned in Zengcheng, Guangzhou, an American mother was imprisoned for a year and fined 18,000 USD for letting her three children go swim by themselves in the river.
6. While people are smuggling baby formula as if it were heroin, officials are thinking about how to get their hands on mistresses while regular people are thinking about how to get their hands on baby formula, these comparisons are a luxury. A woman said on Weixin yesterday, “Oh God, they dare to have a baby, how do they dare?” Just as they confirmed that it was Zhou Xijun who killed Haobo, news also came that an American car thief had discovered a car as he stole it, and reported it twice to the police, leaving a note…these totally different choices by two car thieves drew another round of heated discussion on Weibo: “Does the case of the murdered infant have anything to do with the system?”
7. I truly don’t think it has anything to do with the system. Although China has always had this or that problem with protecting women and children, this is the result of the level of development in the economy and society. I have also done some research and found that in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, a woman who was only 20 years old put her newborn infant in the refrigerator, where the baby died. The autopsy showed that the poor child was still alive when she was put in the fridge. There was also another instance of cruelty in Germany’s history: A 39-year-old woman killed 9 of her own babies from 1988 to 2000, and then buried them in her own flowerpots and buckets.
8. I also discovered that on the evening of November 28th, 2001, Xu Deyong and Xu Gongwei climbed a wall to look for money and were discovered by a husband and wife, whom they subsequently stabbed to death. Afterwards, Xu discovered that there was also a 10-month-old child in the room, and stabbed it to death. There is also the case in Heilongjiang, Jiamusi city, when a 35-year-old man surnamed Gu fought with his girlfriend, and then forced her to kill her 3-month-old on her bed. He then forced his mother-in-law to dismember the infant’s body.
9. It’s clear that such cruel murders of infants occur in China and abroad. They just do not believe in hell. The act of killing a baby is not related to the system or education. The “human evil” of the individual is the source of violent acts. However, in contrast with how officials made sure to demonstrate their moral education after the Xiao Yueyue incident, in Germany, the government came out to conduct psychological examinations and documentation for the criminal: “We could not prevent the criminal act, but we can deeply investigate in order to lower the rate at which these tragedies occur.” Brandenburg’s local government head also took responsibility and expressed to the public that in the face of these cases of infant murder, all of German society must examine their own hearts, no matter if they are in the government, relatives of the woman in question, neighbors, local doctors or government departments, everyone should reflect upon it. 
10. The German media reported on this widely, criticizing the government’s reaction, but didn’t contact the government departments in charge at all.
11. The evening of the day before yesterday, Changchun’s local papers received a notification: the case could not be on the front page, and it should emphasize the capabilities of the police, playing down the piece. After 6 days, it was forbidden to make any report on the case. Very obediently, one paper only ran a small article in its inner pages, while another didn’t make any mention of it at all. Yesterday evening, reporters sent to the scene by the Southern Weekly also received similar orders.
12. To kill an infant who is totally unable to resist you just to steal a car; to use the image of the murdered child to run an ad for a GPS system; for a man named Li’er Chaisi to first say the search for the infant was just a publicity stunt, and then to put on performance art about it; to pretend that the streets have been peaceful, that everything under heaven is in order, a single order made it as if none of the above had happened at all, that it didn’t exist. Evil never walks alone, but with its like.
13. Something that has happened everywhere in the world, and was a product of human evil that didn’t originally have anything to do with the system at first, later did have something to do with the system…that’s what inevitably happens with so many matters in this country.