Baidu unveils its own “Year in Search”. What were PRC netizens “Baidu-ing”?
In Western countries, the list of what people were Googling over the year has become almost a tradition. In China, the nation’s biggest search engine Baidu released its own “Year in Search”, putting together the report “based on trillions of trending queries” to present a “social collective memory” of internet users, said Baidu. 802 million people have come online in China as of August, and many of them use Baidu to look things up daily.
And the winner is “World Cup”, but “Trade War” let netizen involved in politics. “Super Typhoon Mangkhut“ was also closely followed by Chinese netizens.
China shares its top search with the rest of the world. Despite China’s national team failing yet again to even get close to qualifying, World Cup managed to capture a massive Chinese fan base who supported an array of foreign teams. And Baidu wasn’t the only one paying attention, with a host of Chinese brands slapping their logos all over the tournament.
Beyond the number one spot there were a host of interestingly high volume terms. The word “Gaming” came in second, but the third most popular term was unequivocally political in nature: “China-America Trade War“.
The runner-up comes as no surprise, given the escalating conflict between the world’s two main economies. Plus a series of events have stoked more fears of the stand-off, including the arrest of Huawei’s financial chief.
This search term was immediately followed in popularity by “Apple Release“, demonstrating that despite Beijing-Washington trade war – and despite US tech company’s new turmoils in China – the release of its new products is still interesting for the Chinese market.
“Super Typhoon Mangkhut“ was also closely followed by Chinese netizens. The massive tropical cyclone swept across the Pacific Ocean in September, once in Shenzhen, the Chinese city dubbed the Silicon Valley for hardware, reportedly submitted almost $20.4 million in damage claims after the storm.
“The Story of Yanxi Palace” — iQIYI’ blockbuster — is in the list as well. iQIYI were responsible for the 7th most-searched term in China in 2018 too: “skr“. The term itself has no meaning. It is a buzzword courtesy of pop idol Kris Wu, who extensively used it on a whim during iQiyi’s rap competition “Rap of China,” prompting his fans and internet users to bestow it with myriad interpretations.
The term also topped Baidu’s list of “popular phrases”, meaning that despite its complete and utter over-saturation, we might not have heard the last of it just yet.
No one really knew what Wu was on about when he uttered it, but the number of queries for “skr” meant it ranked above things such as the Changsheng defective vaccine scandal and the 40th anniversary of China’s “reform and opening” policies in Baidu’s 2018 list.
Space for new words and urban dictionary. Terms such as 小奶狗 “Little Dog“ – for describing loyal and obidient boyfriends – and 钢铁直男 “Iron Straight Guy”, referring – in positive way – to a man who will always go along with what his girlfriend wants gained the top list. And what about talent shows?
Made popular by tv program Produce 101 this year, C位 “C Position” was also highly-searched in 2018: the translation is “center position”, meaning “the most important spot”. This slang word is now extremely popular in China, due to the huge success of talent show Produce 101 – a format broadcasted on Tencent Video involving several popstars and entertainment KOLs.
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