Making a comeback, challenging authority and no more humble-bragging

Slow Chinese 每周漫闻


Happy Saturday!

My ‘Words of the Week’ to massage into your language learning this weekend:

  1. Idiom: Luckin Coffee founder Charles Lu makes a comeback

    重出江湖 (Chóngchū jiānghú) - make a comeback; back on the streets

  2. Gaming word: #MeToo protest challenges Ali authority

    冲塔 (Chōng tǎ) - ‘attack the tower’; protesting to challenge those in authority

    And a colloquialism about there being a long way to go:

    冰冻三尺,非一日之寒 (Bīngdòng sān chǐ fēi yī rì zhī hán) - ‘It takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three feet deep’

  3. Social media: Chaotic fan groups of live-streamers

    打卡点 (Dǎkǎ diǎn) - social media hotspot'; ‘a must-go-to selfie spot’

  4. Internet word: no more bragging entrepreneurs

    凡尔赛 (Fán'ěrsài) - ‘Versailles’, humble bragging

A quick word count:

  • General words and phrases: 4

  • Internet / social media words: 6

  • Idioms: 6

  • Slang: 1

  • Colloquialisms: 5

  • Poems: 1

  • Total: 24

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1. Charles Lu makes a comeback: 重出江湖 (Chóngchū jiānghú)

Charles Lu (陆正耀 - Lù Zhèngyào) is the founder of Luckin coffee, and still $320 million in debt after his company was accused of financial fraud.

He’s back with a new noodles chain Quxiao Noodles (趣小面 - Qù xiǎo miàn) which is now open in Beijing.

An article in 36Kr explains that the healthy instant noodles sector is booming. In part, thanks to the rapid growth of the ‘single economy’:


With the rise of "single economy" and "food for one person" the noodles sector has expanded rapidly (see 13 March newsletter).


Two colloquial phrases to talk about a crowed market:

  • 狭路相逢,勇者胜 (Xiálùxiāngféng yǒngzhě shèng) - meeting on a narrow path, the brave will succeed; fortune favours the brave

    如今,速食面赛道“狭路相逢” - Nowadays, the instant noodles space is so crowded, it will be the most aggressive companies that succeed

  • 百花齐放、百家争鸣 (Bǎihuāqífàng, bǎijiāzhēngmíng) - ‘let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred school of thought contend’; The Hundred Flowers Campaign - meaning ‘a chaotic and busy sector’

    当前面食连锁品牌已出现百花齐放、百家争鸣的局面 - currently the noodles food chains market is a very crowded space

    • The Hundred Flowers Campaign happened between 1956 and 1957, during which the CCP encouraged citizens to express openly their opinions. Read more here.

Useful words

Two words about a leading market position:

  • 卡位 (Kǎ wèi) - a controlling position

    所谓“品牌即品类”的卡位 - in the so-called lead position among brands and products

    • Kǎ wèi in basket ball is to be in the right position to win the ball from the other team

  • 龙头 (Lóngtóu) - ‘dragon head’; industry leader

    自2015年以来,康师傅等龙头,持续布局售价5元以上的面食市场 - since 2015 industry leading brands such as Master Kong have continued to make inroads to the RMB 5 and over instant noodles market


Three idioms about making a comeback and advancing in a new market:

  • 重出江湖 (Chóngchū jiānghú) - ‘reappear on the rivers and lakes’; make a comeback; back on the streets

    传言他于近日重出江湖 - there are rumours he’s back

  • 重返巅峰 (Chóng fǎn diānfēng) - back on top

    试图靠“一碗面”重返巅峰 - attempting to return to the top through a ‘bowl of noodles’

  • 跑马圈地 (Pǎomǎ quān dì) - ‘running horse, encircling land’; claiming markets through preemptive investments

    三方面食品牌的竞争只会让新老玩家加速跑马圈地 - the competition between the three main noodles brands will only lead to more aggressive investments by old and new players


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2. #MeToo protest challenges Ali authority: 冲塔 (Chōng tǎ) - ‘attack the tower’

A female employee at Alibaba alleged she was forced to drink at a business dinner, groped by a client and sexually assaulted by her boss.

A protest in a company canteen and a viral essay pressured Ali into eventually taking action.

The sacking of her boss, and criticism of Ali in the media, means China’s drinking culture might start to change:

打响了大公司反职场畸形酒桌文化的第一枪 - fired the first shot in combating ugly drinking culture at big companies

According to media reports, Ali is sick and in need of a drastic solution:

  • 刮骨疗毒 (Guā gǔ liáo dú) - ‘scraping poison from the bone’; a drastic solution is required


    Ali has a ‘big company illness’, perhaps it is time for the business to take drastic action

    • Idiom from the Three Kingdoms period. The General, Guan Yu (關羽), on being hit by a poisonous arrow needed a ‘magic doctor’ to remove the poison by cutting through his flesh to scrape it from his bone.


Ali was criticised for brushing such issues under the carpet:

  • 大事化小、小事化了 (Dàshì huà xiǎo, xiǎoshì huàle) - ‘minimise big problems, ignore small ones’

    秉着“大事化小、小事化了”的原则处理问题 - Ali follows a principle of brushing problems under the carpet

Even though the company did eventually take action, it’s believed there’s still a long way to go:

  • 冰冻三尺,非一日之寒 (Bīngdòng sān chǐ fēi yī rì zhī hán) - ‘It takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three feet deep’; similar to Rome is not built in a day'

Useful words

  • 冲塔 (Chōng tǎ) - ‘attack the tower’; challenge those in authority with words and actions (protest)

    通过在公司内网“冲塔”的方式声援该名员工 - other employees showed solidarity with her through protesting on the company’s internal web

    • Chōng tǎ is originally a gaming word from League of Legends (英雄联盟)

  • 撤热搜 (Chè rè sōu) - removed from the social media rankings

    过去还能低调“撤热搜”的阿里 - recently Ali has maintained a low profile, being removed from the social media rankings

  • 冷处理 (Lěngchǔlǐ) - ‘cooling down - sorting out’; two meanings: 1) taking the pressure out of situation by allowing it cool down; 2) kicking something into the long grass

    先是各层级管理者间相互推诿,试图“冷处理” - different levels of the organisation were blaming each other, attempting to kick it into the long grass


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3. Internet word of the week: ‘social media hot spot’ - 打卡点 (Dǎkǎ diǎn)

China’s 14-year old Olympic gold medal diver, Quan Hongchan (全红婵 - Quán hóng chán), is now an internet sensation.

Quan’s home city of Zhangjiang (湛江 - Zhànjiāng) has become a social media hotspot for thousands of fans and vloggers:

  • 打卡点 (Dǎkǎ diǎn) - social media hotspot'; ‘a must-go-to selfie spot’

    全红婵在湛江的老家就成为广东乃至外地主播蜂拥而至的“打卡点” - Quan Hongchan’s hometown in Zhanjiang has become a selfie hot spot that vloggers flocking there from across Guangdong and the rest of the country

But fans have taken things too far:

  • 直播打卡乱象 (Zhíbò dǎkǎ luàn xiàng) - live-streamer visit chaos

    她和家人正在成为下一个“直播打卡乱象”的最新牺牲品 - she and her family are becoming the next victims of chaotic live streamer visits

A new word has been invented to describe obsessive live-streaming fans:

  • 露音癖 (Lù yīn pǐ) - recording addicts

    有人专门发明了一个词来形容公共场合外放的人——露音癖 - people have invented a new term to describe these people - recoding addicts

    • From the word for voyeurism - 窥私癖 (Kuī sī pǐ)


Regulators may turn their attention to chaotic live-streamer fans. If they do, here are two idioms about timing that you might drop into conversations about it:

  • 姗姗来迟 (Shān shān lái chí) - long overdue; too little too late

    但这种骚扰发生之后的事后处理,总让人感觉姗姗来迟 - trying to address the harrasments after they have happened is too little, too late

  • 悔之晚矣 (Huǐ zhī wǎn yǐ) - too late to regret

    等到一篇文章让腾讯蒸发数千亿市值的事情重演,就悔之晚矣 - it will be too late for regret when another article causes Tencent to lose hundreds of billions of market value


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4. No more “humble-bragging” entrepreneurs: 凡尔赛 - Fán'ěrsài

An article in Sina this week says it’s time for China’s entrepreneurs to focus on what’s important:


In this age we don’t need entrepreneurs that chase the spotlight and perform; we welcome silence and a focus making profits in a socially responsible way

There’s no need for talking:

  • 语不惊人死不休 (Yǔ bù jīngrén sǐ bùxiū) - no astonishing words written, no stopping; won’t shut up

    这位一贯“语不惊人死不休”的大佬为何突然销声匿迹呢 - why has this normally effervescent entrepreneur suddenly gone totally silent?

    • From a Du Fu poem about his commitment to his craft: “Until I can find lines that knock you off your feet, I won't stop”; here it means “won’t shut up”

And there’s plenty of younger entrepreneurs that can take their place:

  • 长江后浪推前浪,前浪死在沙滩上 (Chángjiāng hòulàng tuī qiánlàng, qiánlàng sǐ zài shātān shàng)

    New waves on the Yangtse river drive those before them, the older waves die on the sandy beech; “the younger generation replaces the old”

Useful words

Three-character words to talk about showy entrepreneurs:

  • 凡尔赛 (Fán'ěrsài) - ‘Versailles’; social media word describing people who brag through fake humbleness - ‘humble bragging’ in English

    大佬们都恨不能收回之前的语录,更遑论重新凡尔赛了 - there is no way entrepreneurs can recall what they’ve said before before, and there’s certainly no room for any more humble-bragging

    • 凡尔赛文学 (Fán'ěrsài wénxué) - ‘Versalles literature’ became a popular comment on social media last year to criticise over privileged celebs who complained about their lavish lifestyles (Read more in Sixth Tone here).

  • 蹭流量 (Cèng liúliàng) - attracting web traffic

    网红是挖空心思地蹭流量 - internet celebs will do anything to drive web traffic

  • 算旧账 (Suàn jiùzhàng) - settling old scores

    大佬们还得“担心”被算旧账 - big entrepreneurs are worried that they may be hit by old scores being settled


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Doing your homework

Here are some business and internet words from previous newsletters that came up in these news stories this week:

  • 种草 (Zhòng cǎo) - ‘seeding’ by micro influencers online

    See 29 May newsletter)

  • 小鲜肉 (Xiǎo xiān ròu) - little fresh meat, heartthrob

    See 13 Feb newsletter

  • 私生饭 (Sī shēng fàn) - ‘sasaeng fan’, obsessive fans

    See 26 June newsletter

And three idioms to describe celebrities in a difficult spot:

  • 风口浪尖 (Fēngkǒulàngjiān) - ‘in the eye of the storm’

    See 31 July newsletter.

  • 义愤填膺 (Yìfèn tiányīng) - indignant

    See 27 March newsletter

  • 不胫而走 (Bù jìng ér zǒu) - [gossip] spreads like wildfire

    See 1 May newsletter

That’s it for this week. 

Thanks for reading. 

Please do help share this newsletter with anyone who you think needs to brush up on their spoken, written, slang, idiomatic, poetic or classical Chinese language skills.

Thank you!

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