David Wertime

Today's Most Viral Image: Mayday Rocks Beijing

What’s this image?

This photograph depicts beloved Taiwanese band Mayday (五月天) playing to a rapturous reception in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium on May 5 as part of their Nowhere World Tour 2012 (or 诺亚方舟, which translates literally as “Noah’s Ark”).  With over 33,000 re-posts, it is Sina Weibo’s most viral image of May 7, 2012 according to Hong Kong University’s Weiboscope.

Where did it come from?

This image was posted by Mayday’s lead vocalist, Ashin (@啊信) via his Weibo account–which, interestingly, links to his Facebook account, even though the latter is blocked in mainland China. He uploaded it via his iPhone on Saturday night.

Why is it so popular?

Mayday is beloved in Taiwan (which includes the island’s many Weibo users) as well as the mainland. Mayday was one of the most prominent bands to popularize the Hokkien language in the island’s pop music.
And in the mainland? In addition to the band’s catchy tunes (see a video here), it’s their message of peace through music. Given the tensions that often arise between mainland China and what its government views as the rogue breakaway province of Taiwan, Mayday’s peaceful message has left many Chinese netizens “moved.” As Ashin writes via Weibo, “We’ve felt the vastness of 200,000 people singing together at two concerts in the Bird’s Nest, and a gigantic rainbow…From beginning to end I believe, music can change the world, to this day I don’t doubt it.” 
If Ashin’s Weibo message is a bit anodyne, the same message shared via Facebook is slightly more political. He adds: “There are perhaps many differences between Taiwan and here; I can even see many armed police standing in front of us. But what doesn’t change is the warm chorus, penetrating the clouds.”

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.