CityU releases 2015 LIVAC Pan-Chinese Media Personality Roster

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The 2015 LIVAC Pan-Chinese Media Personality Roster was released on 28 December by the Department of Linguistics and Translation of City University of Hong Kong (CityU). As usual, major political figures are still the name of the game, but the roster also shows China’s rising status as a major player in global political and economic affairs. The appearance of Chu Li-luan and Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan on the roster also puts the spotlight on critical cross-strait relations, which have broad implications for both Asia and the world.
 
The roster shows that in 2015, 16 of the top celebrities appeared at the same time in Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing (see Table 1). This number is relatively small compared to that of the past few years. The roster lists five names from the mainland, two from the UK, two, surprisingly, from Taiwan and one each from the US, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Greece and Israel.
 
“The fact that the list includes only politicians shows that power politics and the competition among China, the US and Russia play a dominant role in the world today,” said Professor Benjamin Tsou Ka-yin, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Linguistics and Translation of CityU. “President Xi Jinping has emerged as a key figure, showing that China has become an energetic participant in international affairs. The appearance of both Ma Ying-jeou and Chu Li-luan of Taiwan grabs our attention for different reasons and shows that any new breakthrough in cross-strait relations remains a major concern in the Pan-Chinese and even international news media.”
 
This year’s media celebrities represent significant cultural icons, both new and old: (1) President Xi Jinping, with his ‘One Belt and One Road’ project, advocates a new era of peace and development; (2) Sino-Japanese relations centre around Shinzō Abe; (3) Alexis Tsipras is the key figure in the Greek debt crisis; and (4) Benjamin Netanyahu is the central figure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What’s particularly striking is that the meetings between President Xi and Ma and Chu placed Ma and Chu on the 2015 Pan-Chinese Roster, thereby stressing the significance of the cross-strait relations.
 
On the Hong Kong roster, Leung Chun-ying stands indisputably in first place. Chan Man-mun, Lau Wong-fat and Li Kwok-cheung are listed in the roster because of The University of Hong Kong pro-vice-chancellor selection controversy and subsequent events. Professor Tsou suggests that such controversies could be hints of wider social discontent. He also says the significant decrease in the number of popular sports and entertainment figures on the roster could reflect the increasing politicisation of the Hong Kong society.
 
The Taiwan roster is dominated by important political figures from the opposing Blue and Green camps. Tsai Ing-wen, head of the Green Camp, is ranked first, followed by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je in second place, ahead of Ma and Chu. Hung Hsiu-chu, the Blue Camp presidential candidate, replaced at almost the last minute, also ranks higher than Ma and Chu. As in past years, many popular sports and entertainment figures, like Jay Chou, Jody Chiang, Chen Wei-yin, Jeremy “Insanity” Lin, and Wang Chien-ming, rank high on the roster, reflecting the high social status of popular sports and entertainment figures in Taiwan.
 
Five of the seven new Politburo Standing Committee members in China are among the top 25 celebrities in the Beijing roster this year. The head of the CPC anti-graft commission, Wang Qishan, like last year, is not on the list. Professor Tsou considers this to be a case of “punishing one’s son behind half-opened doors”. The positions of Shinzō Abe and Barack Obama, third and fourth on the roster, respectively, this year, could be a significant hint about Beijing’s greater emphasis on Sino-Japanese than Sino-US relations.
 
Based on the LIVAC Synchronous Corpus, the Pan-Chinese Media Personality Roster is compiled by researchers using the cumulative statistics of the bi-weekly analyses of media personalities in Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei and other pan-Chinese regions. The 25 most frequently found personalities are included in the Bi-Weekly Media Personality Roster. This data is subsequently accumulatively analysed to compile the annual Pan-Chinese Media Personality Roster and local rosters. The research covers media reports in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Beijing and other pan-Chinese regions.
 
Launched by CityU in 1995, the LIVAC Synchronous Corpus regularly and concurrently filters and rigorously analyses data from newspapers in major Chinese communities. More than 500 million characters of news media text have been processed and analysed, building an expanding Pan-Chinese dictionary of nearly two million words. The annual pan-Chinese personality roster was launched in 2000.

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