Live commerce and COVID feature in China’s top 2020 social media buzzwords

China’s National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Centre has released its top 10 buzzwords on Chinese social media during 2020:

  1. 逆行者 “people going against the trend”
  2. 秋天里的第一杯奶茶 “the first bubble tea of autumn”
  3. 直播带货 live commerce
  4. 云监工 remote cloud supervisor
  5. 光盘行动 “Clean Plate” campaign
  6. 奥利给 keep going
  7. 好家伙 good pal
  8. 夺冠 leap
  9. 不约而同 “do something spontaneously with friends”
  10. 集美 best friend

But what do they mean?

We’ve picked out several and explained the meaning and background behind the words and phrases which have created a buzz in 2020.

逆行者 (“people going against the trend” or “counter-marchers”) refers to the medical staff who worked hard to save lives during COVID-19 despite the dangers to themselves. Due to the pandemic, medical staff had to work during Chinese New Year and couldn’t return home to celebrate with their families.

秋天里的第一杯奶茶 (“the first bubble tea of autumn”) refers to one of the most popular drinks in China. The term became viral on social media after a lot of couples shared screenshots of their conversation with their partners who sent them money to buy a bubble tea on the autumnal equinox (September 22 which is considered the first day of autumn in China).

直播带货 live commerce has expanded considerably during 2020 with celebrities and KOLs taking to social media and e-commerce platforms to sell products via livestream. The e-commerce livestreaming industry is expected to reach 961 billion RMB by the end of the year.

云监工 (remote cloud supervisor) refers to the people who used the government’s online streaming service to watch the construction of Wuhan’s special COVID-19 hospitals Huoshenshan and Leishenshan which were built in 24 hours.

光盘行动 President Xi Jinping’s “Clean Plate Campaign” was launched after COVID-19 and highlighted the importance of preventing food waste and “maintain[ing] a sense of crisis about food security”.

Read more: “Shanghai ladies” and “labourer” feature in Baidu’s top 10 2020 buzzwords


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