The 6 Most Viral Memes in China in 2015

By THAT'S, December 22, 2015

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This part of our China's 2015 Year in Review series. For more on 2015 Online trends in review, read our interview with author Liz Carter here and a list of the 10 most popular WeChat accounts here.

New memes, viral videos and gifs appear so quickly that the very concept of a calendar year seems as archaic as pre-Weibo social media. So summarizing a year in online phenomena can only ever be – just like most of the Internet – an arbitrary collection of funny things. This year was fundamentally no different from the one preceding it, though some of the details changed. ‘APEC Blue’ became ‘Winter Olympics Blue;’ praise for the Facebook CEO’s Mandarin became scorn for the Xiaomi CEO’s English. Viral trends are fleeting and sure to be forgotten. But for one more time this year: Enjoy. Forget. Repeat. 

Lots of things went viral this year, but some viruses are worse than others. Like how polio is worse than herpes.

1. Belly button challenge

Belly Button Challenge

In a collective act of unashamed narcissism, the belly button challenge saw Weibo users attempting to touch their own navel by reaching around their backs. It was, of course, a thinly veiled excuse for people to show off their slim bodies (which is actually more a sign of shoulder flexibility, but whatever).

2. Duang

Jackie Chan: Duang

It all began with Jackie Chan’s shampoo commercial: “...after filming, visual effects are added, the hair – duang! – becomes black, very shiny and very smooth,” he exclaimed. No one knows what ‘duang’ means, but that’s kind of the point. It soon spread across the web as a multi-purpose sound effect.

3. Me, my selfies and I

Sergio Arguero, Xi Jinping, David Cameron Selfie

The following photographic masterpieces proved particularly popular: Xi Jinping with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero; Premier Li Keqiang with Indian PM Narendra Modi; Aibaba’s Jack Ma with French President François Hollande and assorted tycoons.

4. Brother Orange

Brother Orange and Matt Stopera

This one had all the ingredients of viral gold: stolen goods, selfies in front of fruit trees and a nationwide hunt for the man with Matt Stopera’s phone. The Buzzfeed writer and a guy from Guangdong (forever known as Brother Orange) went global with their bromance. Heartwarming stuff.

5. The ‘magic bunny’

Ily Pika

There are two important things to know about the Ili pika: it’s cute and it’s endangered. Awareness of the rarely sighted Chinese mammal spread throughout the net (albeit under the technically inaccurate name ‘magic bunny’) after it was profiled by National Geographic.

6. Wang Sicong

Wang Sicong

The son of China’s richest man was a constant source of fascination and controversy in 2015. Social media exploded when Wang gave his dog Apple Watches, when he spoke English with a British accent, and when he made vulgar comments about women. Thankfully, most reacted with outrage.

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Liz Carter on China's Biggest Online Trends in 2015

We spoke with the author, journalist and former Tea Leaf Nation editor on the biggest online trends of 2015.

China's 7 Hottest Names and Trends in Fashion in 2015

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China's 2015 in Review

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The Hottest New Trends that Took Over China in 2016

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China's 10 Most Viral Memes of 2016

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Luo Jingjie on the World of Chinese Fashion in 2015

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​Zhang Li on China's 2015 in Arts

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