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Wo Men Podcast

Author: Wǒ Men Podcast

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Two Women. One Country. Modern China from the Inside.
72 Episodes
Schools all over China have signs and banners exhorting students to hao hao xuexi, tiantian shang shang ("Study hard and make progress every day"). Being a kid -- or a parent! -- in China means a lot of pressure to compete and succeed and the educational system is built around the college entrance exams. Students sacrifice their childhood and freedom for hours and hours of homework and after-school programs to “win the game at the starting point” and secure a promising future. But are exams and homework the purpose of education? Quite a few people in China have been exploring alternative solutions and approaches. In this episode, we talked to Chen Zishu, a Harvard-educated student who brought her ideas and actions back to China. She tells us about her academic and professional journey and shares her observations about China’s education-industrial complex.
It seems like every email we have received recently begins with “In this challenging year…” Well 2020, your time is almost up. You only have a few days left before we turn the page to 2021. Every year at this time, we look back on the year that was and talk about our plans for the future. In this episode, Yajun, Jingjing, and Karoline discuss surviving a global pandemic, their thoughts on a new global order while also talking about their personal highlights (and low-lights) of 2020, including new babies, family health emergencies, lockdown blues, and the challenge of staying motivated while the world seems to be falling apart. Finally, the ladies share their new year resolutions because 2021 has got to be an improvement over 2020, right? Right!?!?!?
Over the past few weeks, the US election has dominated the news worldwide, even in China. Chinese people have been fascinated to watch an odd political soap opera unfold in the United States beginning with the election of Donald Trump back in 2016. Four years later, despite harsh rhetoric and aggressive policies directed at China, Trump still has supporters here. Today we ask the question: Why is Donald Trump still so popular in China? Joining us for this episode is Patricia, a Chinese lawyer who works in a multinational tech company. She Chinese. She is a woman. And she is a Trump supporter. If you’re wondering why, well…so are we. So we invited Patricia on our show to tell us her views about how she came to support Donald Trump and why she is still a fan.
China’s economy is getting back to normal. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 still changed many people’s lives forever. Some of them were fired while others spent months job hunting, and many more used the crisis to re-value the things they used to take for granted. Life almost one year after the first case of coronavirus is permanently different for many people. How has this changed their view of the world and their future? Karoline Kan speaks with Song, a 29-year-old man who used to work at some top international financial consulting firms and never met a challenge in his career. Song quit his job a few years ago to enroll in an international MBA program, hoping that experience would help him further develop his career. He was always confident in his educational background and working experience. Song never imagined an unprecedented public crisis would change his career path and how he feels about so many things in life and career. What to do now? Join a multi-national company or China’s state-owned system? Should he prioritize ambition or stability? In this episode, we look at the fragility of life for China’s middle class. How has the Covid-19 crisis changed people's hopes, fears, ambitions, and worries?
For many people worldwide, the protests in Hong Kong have been a news story in a year full of news. But the demonstrations and political crisis have deeply affected Hong Kongers dividing the city and even families. Michelle is from Hong Kong but living in Japan and has been arguing with her girlfriend – who is from mainland China – about the protests. What happens when different backgrounds, viewpoints, and media consumption starts to come between a couple? In our latest episode, Michelle explains to us why the Hong Kong issue is so complicated. Even in her own family, her parents, brothers, and Michelle all have different takes on the situation. Meanwhile, Michelle and her girlfriend try to communicate their different beliefs with patience, open minds, and open hearts. Michelle also shares the challenges a same-sex couple faces in Hong Kong and on the mainland and how she and her girlfriend have used persistence and wisdom to navigate a range of family obstacles as they build a future together.
2020 has been a challenging year. Many families experienced an incredible sense of loss, sadness, and desperation as they lost family members to Covid-19. Meanwhile, other families welcomed new life who brought love and hope during a difficult time. Our co-host, Jingjing, and our close friend, Annie, each gave birth this year and it was not easy. They suffered from both physical and psychological challenges that a new mother would not face in a typical year, including labor without an epidural due to a shortage of maternity staff in the hospital and risking exposure to the COVID-19 virus. They worried about how to ensure the safety of their new babies during a global pandemic. In this episode, Annie and Jingjing share their personal experience of giving birth in the year of COVID-19.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected many people’s lives and had a detrimental impact on businesses around the world. But some industries have inadvertently benefited from the outbreak — such as pornography. Even though porn is legally prohibited in China, such restrictions don’t stop many people from looking for adult content, most of the time by using a VPN to bypass the country’s internet censorship. For this episode, we talked to Annie Huang, who shares why she uses pornography as a healthy entertainment option to help relieve stress. She also explains why women should consider their sexual desires as normal needs, rather than something to be ashamed of.
In a recent podcast episode, we discussed how Covid-19 changed the outlook when it came to China’s consumption boom. As a part of the generation that had taken supercharged economic development for granted and had never worried about financial stability, the potential impact of Covid-19 on the economy also requires us to rethink our finances. In this episode, we have invited Jackie You — a former investment banker who previously joined us to discuss following your heart — to share her insights and experiences with us. Jackie shares how people in China are adapting to a new economic reality, as well as some lessons that can be applied universally.
To many readers of English-language media, “news assistant” is an unfamiliar term. Yet the people operating in this role are often integral to many overseas outlets’ coverage of China. Also sometimes referred to as “news researchers,” they are Chinese citizens working as journalists for foreign media who often do far more than mere research and yet are rarely credited for their work. News assistants’ responsibilities can include research, looking for interviewees, arranging interviews, translating, and some “researchers” even interview and write the stories independently — but with no byline. The Chinese government has rules prohibiting Chinese nationals from being full-time journalists for foreign media publications, but over the past few decades, many Chinese writers and reporters have managed to take advantage of a loosening system or regulatory oversights to grow into experienced journalists and hugely talented — and hugely important — storytellers.
As China continues to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, some experts expected to see a strong consumption rebound in recent weeks. However, it didn’t happen. Instead, the amount of saving in the first quarter of 2020 surged in China. Many Chinese, including the post-’90 and post-’00 generations who are used to living paycheck to paycheck, have started to save money. Seemingly, the global pandemic has changed many families’ and individuals’ consumption habits and lifestyles — at least in the short term. For this episode of the Wǒ Men Podcast, our three co-hosts share their different views on consumption and money-saving and how Covid-19 has changed their outlook when it comes to personal finances.
While the world is suffering from the global pandemic of novel coronavirus Covid-19, Jingjing talks to Donna, a Chinese student studying in the UK. In this episode, Donna shares her perspectives on life under lockdown overseas, including how she ended up getting military food and her experience with racism in the UK.  
When her hometown went into lockdown, Yuli Wang decided to help send messages of hope and support from around the world to Wuhan citizens. Yuli Yang, a journalist born and raised in Wuhan, shared with us her #GoWuhan social media campaign launched right after the Covid-19 outbreak began making international headlines. She and a group of volunteers translated kind and encouraging Twitter and Facebook messages sent from all over the world to the people of Wuhan and published them on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. This campaign aimed to boost the spirits of the people living in the epicenter of the disease and has received more than 3.3 million views on Weibo. She also shared her views on why she feels that Chinese people are much more tolerant and comply with extreme measures employed by the Chinese government compared with other countries. This interview was conducted one week before the podcast was released. Just this past week, many things have changed. The number of infections from the novel coronavirus Covid-19 has significantly increased in Europe and in North America, and many countries have started to employ lockdown measures as well.
As China continues to deal with novel coronavirus Covid-19, it’s clear that this crisis wasn’t only a test of China’s governance and public health system. It was also a challenge to the resilience of many businesses in the country, particularly small and medium enterprises. What are the biggest challenges they are facing and what kind of measures can be taken to keep them in business? For this episode, we talked to Benjamin Devos, the owner and CEO of the first French bakery in Beijing, Comptoirs de France Bakery. He shared with us the perilous challenges his business is now facing and some of the tough decisions he has had to make after 15 years of running a business in China. A small community in Beijing has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to support the Comptoirs de France Bakery and the local business it represents. If you want to contribute, please hit that link for more details.
Life Under Quarantine

Life Under Quarantine


The novel coronavirus Covid-19 has taken hundreds of lives and caused disruption and psychological damage throughout China and — increasingly — across the world. With millions still under lockdown and self-imposed quarantine within China, and many Chinese unable to return home at an important time of year due to travel restrictions, Wǒ Men hosts Jingjing, Yajun, and Karoline discuss their personal experiences and perspectives of life during the virus.
Last week, before the break out of the coronavirus, much of the world’s attention focused on Davos, a little European ski resort town in Switzerland where this year the World Economic Forum celebrated its 50 year anniversary and welcomed more than 3,000 political, business and other leaders. Jingjing and Yajun, the two co-hosts of Wǒ Men Podcast, met up there and shared their experiences and highlights at the summit from both a participant and organizer’s perspective, respectively.
Podcast hosts Yajun Zhang and Jingjing Zhang come together at the start of 2020 to discuss their hopes, aspirations, and resolutions for the New Year.
This year more than 220,000 Chinese people sent online endorsements of gay marriage to China’s top legislative body, arguing for a same-sex marriage amendment to be made to China’s marriage laws. For the system to change in China, the LGBTQ+ community needs allies. Olivia Wang explains to us how she takes action to support the LGBTQ community by attempting to influence both China’s legal system and the people around her.
The China Fear?

The China Fear?


China dominates global headlines right now — and few of those headlines are positive. But is fear of the country justified? How to separate the people, the government, and the Party? And what impact is the breakdown in dialogue between China and the English-speaking world having on Chinese living and travelling abroad? Hosts Jingjing, Karoline, and Yajun share their perspectives from around the world.
Have you done lots of shopping on Double 11? The reason we ask is that 11/11, also known as Singles Day, has become China’s biggest online shopping holiday and become the Chinese retailer equivalent of Black Friday in the west. Is Singles Day still a culture phenomenon in China where if you have not participated, you feel you would be left out?  I have heard some people have started to lose interest this year as they feel the shopping rules have become quite complicated.  Do you feel the same? Do you use shopping as your retail therapy?  This is an encore episode in which Yajun and Jingjing discuss the "buy buy buy" culture in China.
This week, we have a special guest — who for the purposes of the recording we’re calling “C” — who bravely came forward to share her deeply sad personal experience of being a victim of sexual assault when she was just 4 years old. Through discussing this horrendous experience, this episode looks at the underlying problems in some rural and undereducated areas in China, where gender inequality is a manifest of some purportedly “patriotic” values. It also examines how some criminals can take advantage of the concept of “面子 mianzi” (face) and a pervasive family shaming culture to cover up their actions.
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