The popularity of 'city bu city' is not accidental: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 28, 2024 12:32 AM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Recently, a foreign blogger filmed a short video while visiting the Great Wall, in which he said “city bu city,” (literally means city or not city, questioning whether the place has the fashionable style and atmosphere of a big city), making this mixed Chinese-English phrase a popular internet term. With the implementation of the 144-hour transit visa-free policy, more and more foreign tourists are starting to share their experiences of traveling to China on social media. ChinaTravel-related topics are becoming increasingly popular. Various aspects of contemporary Chinese society, especially the Chinese way of life, are being shared by these bloggers in a more emotional, friendly, and natural way.

Indeed, from Northeast China's Guobaorou (fried pork in a scoop) to the Chaoshan raw pickled, from the high-speed rail network covering the whole country to the clean and orderly subway system, from mobile payment to the ubiquitous delivery robots, the many details of contemporary Chinese lifestyle far exceed the previous understanding of China by most foreign tourists. Therefore, when a large number of foreign tourists can easily come to China through the 144-hour transit visa-free policy and truly experience the rich, colorful, and three-dimensional contemporary China, witnessing a China that's completely different from the one constructed by various colored filters of mainstream media in the West, quickly taking out their phones to record what they see and hear becomes a completely heartfelt and autonomous choice for them. Once breaking through the "information cocoon" carefully constructed by Western public opinion, for many foreign tourists, all worries and concerns before their trip to China instantly dissipate, replaced by firsthand experience and objective narration of all aspects of contemporary Chinese society.

This is by no means a coincidence; rather, this phenomenon is "very Chinese." Even when viewed on a global scale, the ability for ordinary people to share their daily lives, including travel, through short videos is a new phenomenon that has only emerged in the second decade of this century, driven by the influence of mobile internet on the global historical process. In this historical process, Chinese society completed the construction of nationwide telecommunications infrastructure earlier, and internet companies in various fields have emerged one after another like mushrooms after rain, bringing great convenience to the daily lives of the vast population of our country. In recent years, Chinese internet companies have successively gone global, pushing various business models embodying the Chinese experience of mobile internet to the world, making significant contributions to the historical process of global mobile internet.

Compared to Hollywood and the "Korean Wave" cultural models, the Chinese public rapidly and widely have access to information after the Chinese society established the infrastructure of mobile internet. While the people are enjoying the dividends of China's reform and opening-up, they have also empowered Chinese internet companies with unique competitiveness in various fields. Therefore, when Chinese internet companies go global, they quickly provide new products and services beyond the Hollywood and "Korean Wave" cultural models, expanding new cultural experiences and spaces.

This new cultural experience emphasizes respecting local customs, focusing on localized operations, and maximizing the enthusiasm and creativity of internet users. Today, cultural phenomena such as Chinese online literature, online dramas, and online games are gaining popularity worldwide, bringing a more dazzling "Chinese style." New cultural formats such as micro-dramas and script entertainment are constantly innovating, transmitting more contemporary Chinese experiences to the world, based on the spirit of equality and inclusiveness.

The fundamental reason why more foreign tourists are sincerely and voluntarily sharing a distinct image of China that is clearly different from the Western filter lies in the Chinese way of life that respects multiculturalism and is able to accommodate different values. According to the Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 report released by the World Economic Forum, China has risen to the eighth place and shows a clear upward trend. Data released by the National Immigration Administration shows that in the first quarter of this year, the number of foreigners visiting China increased by more than three times compared with the same period in 2023, with tourism being the most popular reason, accounting for over 30 percent. The contemporary world calls for a new international order that is more equal, orderly, diverse, and varied, breaking down various ideological barriers. The diverse cultural experiences represented by contemporary Chinese lifestyles will promote friendly exchanges among people of all countries and further advance the international society toward greater diversity.