While the US was Googling for Game of Thrones, “Old Town Road”, Area 51, and Baby Yoda, what was China searching for in 2019? Search engine Baidu — often labelled “China’s Google” (slightly misleadingly, but let’s not get into that now) — has put out its own answer to Google’s 2019 trends with a comprehensive run-down of the approved terms to cross its servers this year.
Here’s a quick-fire guide to what the world’s biggest online population was searching for in 2019:
The “70th anniversary of new China” came out top of Baidu’s most-searched terms this year, after the PRC celebrated seven decades in existence. The patriotic theme is strong throughout Baidu’s lists of the year, with a whole section for “China pride” search terms (which range from Daxing Airport to swimmer Sun Yang’s World Championships win).
Similarly, two films with strong nationalist themes — The Wandering Earth and My People, My Country — occupy the second and third places on Baidu’s overall search term list.
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In fourth, just ahead of terms related to the women’s volleyball team and men’s basketball World Cup, is “trash classification.” In July, Shanghai introduced a new Domestic Waste Management Law that required residents and corporate entities to classify trash into four categories: wet, dry, recyclable, and toxic. The move — which included fines for any trash transgressions — caused a wave of online commentary and complaints as people grappled with which type of rubbish to put into which bin (though a couple of months later residents had pretty much gotten used to it).
In addition to listing top news stories and political terms, Baidu breaks out the most heart-wrenching stories of the year into a separate category. It’s a fairly grim list of famous deaths and disasters (both natural and man-made). But interestingly, it’s not all China-focused — making the top 5 this year is the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, a term which also ranked highly on Google’s lists in the US and many European countries.
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Given the above, it’s no surprise that The Wandering Earth and My Country, My People are top of 2019’s most-searched movies on Baidu. They’re followed by animated blockbuster Nezha, Avengers Endgame, and The Captain, while Better Days also makes the top 10.
When it comes to TV shows, Tang dynasty action epic The Longest Day in Chang’an lands in the top 10 searches for dramas, while rock ‘n’ roll contest The Big Band is top of the reality TV section after being something of a “dark horse” in the streaming charts this summer. The iQIYI show even makes Baidu’s overall top 10 list, demonstrating just how much previously underground rock bands entered into the mainstream consciousness this year.
“The Big Band” Effect: Underground Chinese Rock Stars Catapult to Mainstream Influencer Status
Another winner for streaming platform iQIYI, at least in terms of Baidu search traffic, is I Can I BB, the oddly-named debate show that deals with a host of trending topics, including overwork and 996 (which incidentally made Baidu’s top buzzwords for 2019).
Of course, it wouldn’t be an end of year list without a bit of star power. Baidu’s list of the most-searched celebrities of 2019 is topped by Xiao Zhan, the “little fresh meat” star of period drama The Untamed (co-star Wang Yibo is fourth).
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Li Xian, another name on our little fresh meat round-up above, also features in the top 10, along with fellow actor Zhu Yilong and NINEPERCENT member Zhu Zhengting. Pop singer and Rocket Girls 101 member Wu Xuanyi is the top-ranking female celebrity.
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