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Your favorite reads of the year

You clicked, we counted: This year’s most widely read posts from TWOC’s print magazine and website defy categorization, spanning a diversity of topics from homecomings to unsolved mysteries to ancient emperors’ sexuality.

As we enter a new year (and with a few hours left for you to throw your favorites some extra clicks!), we revisit our most popular posts of 2019. Find our official rankings below:

Top 20 Posts of 2019

20. Gala Palaver – The Lunar New Year celebrations are not far off: Here’s our language guide to help you crack the formula of the annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala.

19. Up in the Air – Too much flattery can get you inflated, warns this language lesson from our Street Talk section.

18. The Chinese-Born American – Born to two American pacifists on a farm in Shaanxi, and raised in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, Yang Heping (also known as Dr. Fred Engst) talks to TWOC about his unusual childhood and complex identity.

17. 10 Year Challenge: Government Edition – State media and party apparatuses take on the infamous Facebook challenge, with mixed results.

16. Tai Chi Hustle – Formerly a combat style, now a popular exercise for retirees, the ancient martial art of tai chi faces an uncertain future.

15. The Han Over? – Once the leading light of the “little fresh meat” phenomenon, Lu Han’s influence may be on the wane as the singer approaches his 30s.

14. Doctored Degrees – The unprecedented growth of PhD programs in China has created the perfect environment for abuse and academic fraud.

13. The Faces of Zhu Bajie – Peppa Pig might be the king of internet memes, but China’s most iconic pig is still the half-man, half-swine spirit from Journey to the West, who has been portrayed by many memorable actors in film and on TV.

12. Lake of the Lost – We investigate the mystery of the “Bermuda of the Orient,” a narrow channel in Jiangxi province’s Poyang Lake where thousands of  of ships have reportedly disappeared.

11. The Great Hoards of China – Chinese cities face a growing clutter problem. Is culture or modern consumerism more to blame?

10. Gay Emperors in Chinese History – Modern China has a checkered record when it comes to LGBTQ rights, but a few kings and emperors from ancient history were well-known for their close relationships with men.

9. Dongbei Diaspora – Though well-known for their strong regional identity, northeastern Chinese have a love-hate relationship with their homeland.

8. Bad Romance – More than just one of the bestselling romance writers of all time, Qiong Yao is a cultural phenomenon, known for writing campy dialogue that has become widely copied and even parodied in everyday speech.

7. Where the Wild Things Are – Hubei’s Shennongjia National Forest is rumored to be the home of the yeren, a sasquatch-like “wild man” whose legend we attempt to trace in this cover story.

6. Fiction: The Socialite – This short story by Lynn Zhao is a perceptive portrait of the clash between different generations of the American-Chinese diaspora.

5. Sexual Healing – Do you require your future spouse to be virgin? What’s your opinion on premarital sexual behavior? This survey gives a little insight about sex positivity among the “post-95” and “post-00” generation.

4. Pig Mouth – Before the Year of the Pig ends, check out a few sayings related to the 12th zodiac animal.

3. East Side Story – Despite numerous touring Broadway productions and translated shows, China’s musical theater market is still in its infancy, and the country has yet to produce an original hit in its own language.

2. Home Bound – The “spring migration” (春运) is a well-known Chinese New Year tradition, but rural demographic changes and lifestyle differences create increasing feelings of estrangement among a younger generation of migrants, whose “return phobia” (恐归) we explore in this poignant first-person cover story.

1. Give Me a Girl at Age Eighteen – Our most popular post of the year is a brutal critique of the English translation of Feng Tang’s 2000 debut novel…that got an ironic thumbs up from the author himself.

Top 5 Posts by category


1. Campus Privilege

2. Farewell to Nanyuan

3. Motorized Menace

4. Social Media Misfires

5. Unexpected Trade-Offs


1. Country Driving

2. Seeking Immortals in Penglai

3. Out of Steppe

4. Peak Season

5. The Mountain and “the Marsh”


1. Gluttons for Gluten

2. Mock Meat Revolution

3. No Fortune, Just Cookies

4. Donkey for Dinner

5. Bug in Your Banquet


1. Top Internet Slang of 2019

2. Hello From the Chinese Side

3. Opposite Attractions

4. Choice Chengyu: Sexist Sayings

5. Choice Chengyu: Lunar Language


TWOC‘s editors are a bilingual, international team that is always on the lookout for original and human-centered stories to share with our readers. We are dedicated to accuracy, objectivity, and looking at each of China's stories through the eyes of its participants. Get in touch through our About Us page if you have a story to pitch!

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