East China’s small county turns 'center of the universe' on Chinese social media
East China’s small county turns “center of the universe” on Chinese social media
Published: May 19, 2021 01:53 PM
A store in Cao county sells Hanfu Photo: VCG

A store in Cao county sells Hanfu Photo: VCG

"The center of the universe - Cao county," and "I want a bed in Cao county more than a house in Shanghai," posts such as these have gone viral on Chinese social media platforms, reflecting the recent popularity of the heretofore unknown county in Heze, East China's Shandong Province.

The journey of the county's road to stardom started from several short videos by a Chinese's vlogger on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

The vlogger addition of "Cao county in Heze, Shandong, my baby" at the end of his videos and his local accent made a deep impression on many netizens. The county has become a familiar name among netizens since then.

With the rise in popularity, netizens have begun digging up interesting facts about the county. For example, around 90 percent of coffins in Japan come from the county as the wood for them is grown there.

A town in the county that is a base for making costumes for traditional performances produces about 70 percent of costumes in China annually. The production of Hanfu, the traditional clothing of the Han ethnic group, has spun off of this industry and has become a new major pillar for the county. Roughly one third of Hanfu sold in China hail from the county.

Xuan Xue, a Hanfu maker, told the Global Times on Tuesday that she first heard of Cao county as its name grew within the Hanfu community because of the large number of sales.

The town's villagers told Henan TV that during holidays such as Children's Day, daily sales of Hanfu can reach 70,000 yuan ($10,893).

Almost every household in the town has bought a car, and most of the villagers take car trips, leading to traffic jams in the village similar to those in large cities.

The hashtags "Cao county" and "Heze's Cao county" have earned more than 480 million views on the short video platform.

Netizens have come up with many memes about the county. 

"China's four biggest cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Cao county," and "New York has always been thought of as Western Cao county and its only not that it can just be mentioned in the same breath with Cao county" are just some of the memes that have spread online.

Liang Huimin, head of the county, said that some of these memes are for fun, but also reflect that "the changes in the county are really big. It's hard to believe."