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Soft power or national shame: Net users debate singer’s extravagant birthday celebrations

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    11:46, September 23, 2016

On Sept. 21, 11 LED screens in Times Square broadcast posters and photos of Wang in celebration of the star’s birthday.

In celebration of the 17th birthday of singer-celebrity Wang Junkai, Chinese fans arranged an over-the-top series of festivities worldwide, which has sparked a debate among Chinese netizens. Wang is the leader of popular boy band TFBoys.

On Sept. 21, 11 LED screens in Times Square broadcast posters and photos of Wang in celebration of the star’s birthday, while airports and metro stations in South Korea, Japan and even Iceland all advertised his big day. In Wang’s hometown of Chongqing, fans spent close to 10 million RMB to decorate the exterior of a light rail with Wang’s photos, the Global Times reported.

Photos and videos of the celebration soon went viral on Weibo under the hashtag “HappyBirthdaytoWangJunkaiOnSept21,” which garnered more than 1.5 billion page views and received more than 8 million comments as of press time. Some netizens supported the celebration for “showing Chinese soft power to the whole world,” while others dismissed it as a “shameless performance that severely tarnished the country’s image.”

“Fans have not only celebrated Wang’s birthday, but also promoted China’s soft power worldwide. I bet many people in the U.S. know about Wang now – isn’t that a new method to disseminate our modern culture?” one netizen commented on Sept. 21.

However, others hold a very different opinion.

“The celebration is shameless and servile. It has impaired the country’s dignity. How on earth can such a shallow and ridiculous show represent China’s modern culture? Fans should use the money to do something better, like helping delinquent students in China,” another netizen wrote.

Wang’s birthday has caused a frenzy among his fans every year since he started his career in 2013. The young singer, who has over 18 million fans on Weibo, made social media history after his birthday greeting was reposted an astonishing 42,776,438 times in 2015, earning him a world record for the most Weibo reposts ever. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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