How does Weibo react to England and Wales’ legalisation of gay marriage?

Apr 13, 2014


Just a couple of weeks ago, on the first day of England and Wales’ legalisation of Gay marriage the social media picked up on all the buzz, and there were countless tweets, Facebook posts and even instagram photos all talking about it, but probably unknown to most was that thousands of miles away Chinese internet users were also talking about this historic event, with many Weibo users expressing their views on Weibo, and Wechat users sharing news articles related to the equal marriage act with their friends on Wechat moments (Facebook like newsfeed in Wechat).

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David Cameron's Weibo account[/caption]

Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of UK’s legalisation of gay marriage has so far been reposted over 20,000 times on Weibo, and the prime minister even made it into Weibo’s hot topics when he said “When people’s love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change”. This became the most quoted sentence on Weibo that day.

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Tom Felton's Weibo[/caption]

The Harry Potter Star Tom Felton posted a “coming out” post both on his Twitter and Weibo account, with the latter proving far more popular, reaching almost 50,000 reposts.


If you ask a Chinese about his/her first impression of the UK,  “Fu” (腐) will probably be the their first answer.  “Fu” is a friendly Chinese  word for “gay love” (similar to the Japanese term: “Yaoi” and there are a large number of people, especially Chinese female Internet users who identify themselves as funü – young women who like gay stories, who have helped popularise this term, and causing it to enter the daily vocabulary of most young Chinese.

Unlike other countries in which men are perceived as very masculine, UK men are often perceived as quite feminine with a gentle stature and soft polite nature, making the UK the most “Fu” country among Chinese internet users. 

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The UK’s official tourism broad: visit Britain referring to itself as 腐国 (FuGuo, Gay Country)[/caption]

British drama’s have become extremely popular in China in the past few years (Sherlock and Downton Abbey especially) and the “基友” (“Ji You”) or “bromance” as we would say in English has only solidified the “Fu” status of the British.

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Many Chinese sites host Sherlock fan-fiction depicting Sherlock Holmes and Watson as a couple[/caption]

Homosexuality is not widely promoted or discussed in China, but internet users have found new ways to have their voice heard on this topic through social media, and there are always new innovative ways for users to bypass government  sensitive topics by the adaptation of the Chinese language. “Fu” has made a big impact on the Chinese, and apart from meaning gay, it stands for openness and acceptance and its viral nature has been well utilised by the UK government in its social media marketing.

For any British business who wants to achieve success on Chinese social media, “Fu” is a phrase that should not be being ignored in social media marketing, but with its politically sensitive meaning you have to make sure you are applying it in an appropriate way, something PingPong Digital can help you with.

Article by: River Huang, Jimmy Robinson