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Tea Leaf Nation

Tea Leaf Nation is a channel on ForeignPolicy.com that decodes Chinese media—mainstream, social, local, special interest—to illuminate the country from within.

Last Updated: February 10, 2016

Media

03.10.15

China’s Good Girls Want Tattoos

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
“It seems that Chinese men don’t want to marry a girl with tattoos,” complained one such girl on the Chinese online discussion platform Douban. She posted a picture of her body art, an abstract design on her lower back. “In East Asian cultural...

Media

03.09.15

China’s Real Inconvenient Truth: Its Class Divide

Rachel Lu
China is talking about its pollution problem, but its equally serious class problem remains obscured behind the haze. Smog leapt to the forefront of Chinese national discourse after the February 28 release of "Under the Dome," a 103-minute...

Media

03.03.15

The Word That Broke the Chinese Internet

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
It might be gibberish, but it’s also a sign of the times. The word duang, pronounced “dwong,” is spreading like wildfire throughout China’s active Internet—even though 1.3 billion Chinese people still haven’t figured out what it means. In fact, its...

Media

02.23.15

Five Predictions for Chinese Censorship in the Year of the Sheep

Blocked websites, jailed journalists, and nationalist rhetoric have long been features of the Chinese Communist Party’s media control strategy. During the Year of the Horse, which just ended on China’s lunar calendar, President Xi Jinping and his...

Media

02.19.15

Why 700 Million People Keep Watching the Chinese New Year Gala, Even Though It’s Terrible

Rachel Lu
The Chinese New Year Gala, which aired live on February 18 on Chinese Central Television (CCTV), is a four-and-half hour variety show with song and dance, comedic skits, magic tricks, acrobatic acts, and celebrity cameos. The show celebrates the...

Media

02.10.15

Chinese Corruption, Now Officially Hilarious

Rachel Lu
Corruption is finally funny—at least, according to the Chinese Communist Party. That’s because comedic performances in the upcoming February 18 performance of China’s annual New Year Gala, a variety show on China Central Television (CCTV) expected...

Media

02.05.15

Why Chinese Promote Confining New Mothers for a Month

Rachel Lu
HONG KONG—Giving birth is never easy, but for new Chinese mothers the month following a baby’s arrival is particularly fraught. Immediately after I became pregnant for the first time, I started to hear about zuoyuezi, or “sitting the month.” It’s a...

Media

01.22.15

Xi Jinping’s Pay Raise

Alexa Olesen
It just got slightly less difficult to be a clean Chinese official. State media reported on January 20 that Chinese civil servants had received their first pay raise in ten years, a move that includes a 60 percent bump for President Xi Jinping and...

Media

01.13.15

This Culture Has Not Yet Been Rated

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
It all started with plunging necklines. After the sudden withdrawal and subsequent sanitizing of a popular Chinese show, viewers in China have renewed longstanding calls to strip government censors of their power, using one simple solution: a...

Media

01.13.15

‘Where’s Our Unity March?’ China Wants to Know

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian & Rachel Lu
The January 7 terrorist attack on satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead has mostly inspired unity in the West, but the massive march held in its aftermath is spurring controversy, and even some disdain, in China. While the...

Media

01.08.15

What Will Happen to Uber in China?

Ride-sharing app Uber has expanded around the world at a blistering pace, launching in a new city every one or two days. At first glance, China would appear the ideal fit for the Silicon Valley startup. Most urban residents in the world’s second-...

Media

12.18.14

Hong Kong, the Resilient City

David Wertime
The tents have folded. After 75 days of camping on the street, braving police crackdowns, occasional civilian attacks, and the city’s (admittedly mild) winter chill, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters have cleared out. As promised, police moved in...