2021 Year of the Ox

Chinese zodiac

Learn here some details and background about 2021 Year of the Ox.
This overview is a compilation from multiple sources.
The name ‘Spring Festival’ (春节 Chūnjié)  is actually quite modern: it’s from 1912, when the Republic of China adopted the Gregorian calendar. The old name for the lunar new year (Yuan Dan 元旦 Yuándàn) was re-appropriated for January 1st and Sun Yatsen came up with the term Spring Festival for the Lunar New Year.

The 12-year Chinese zodiac determines which dates and years are auspicious or unlucky. Each lunar cycle has 60 years divided into 12 smaller cycles, each of which is represented by one of the following animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
The Year of Your Animal Sign Is Not Your Lucky Year.
See here my “wishes” for 2021:


2021 is the Year of the Ox according to Chinese zodiac. This is a Year of Metal Ox, starting from Feb. 12, 2021 (Chinese New Year) and lasting to Jan. 31, 2022. Ox is the second in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign. Years of the Ox include 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033…

And Oxen are…

Oxen used to be capable farming tools in an agricultural society, which attach to the symbol of diligence, persistence, and honesty. In Chinese culture, Ox is a faithful friend that made great contributions to the development of the society. Like the ox, people born in the Year of the Ox are industrious, cautious, hold their faith firmly, and always glad to offer help.

It is said that Ox ranks the second among the Chinese zodiacs because it helped the Rat but was later tricked by it. The myth goes that the Jade Emperor declared the order of zodiac signs would be based on the arrival orders of 12 animals. Ox could have arrived the first but it kindly gave a ride to Rat. However, when arriving, Rat just jumped to the terminus ahead of Ox, and thus Ox lost the first place.

With the dwindling birth rate in China, the Year of the Ox could be worse… See below why!
The 2021 Ox is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支 / dì zhī) Chǒu (丑). In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳 / yīn yáng), the Ox is Yang.

  • Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Chou
  • Wu Xing (The Five Elements): Tu (Earth)
  • Yin Yang: Yin

Is it ox, cow, bull, buffalo or…

Ox (牛  Niú)
The main difference between Bull and Ox is that the Bull is a male individual of cattle and Ox is a common bovine draft animal. A bull is a not castrated adult male. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals easier to control. Bad for birth rate!!!
In Chinese the character for cow and ox are the same.

Water buffalo (水牛 Shuǐniú)
The buffalo is the second animal symbol in the 12-year cycle of the Vietnamese zodiac, taking the place of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac. Water buffalo are industrious and patient.
The water buffalo, also called domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo is a large bovid originating in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and China.
The domesticated water buffalo is the “living tractor of the East”. There are two types, river and swamp, each considered a subspecies. The breed was selected mainly for its milk, which contains 8 percent butterfat. Swamp buffalo more closely resemble wild water buffalo and are used as draft animals in rice paddies throughout Southeast Asia. Children ride them to their wallows after their labours and clean their faces and ears.

English Didi app is resurrected

Confusing for sure

After my warnings about the app on the iPhone, the app finally crashed. But now the English Didi app is resurrected. See the earlier post: Didi app disappeared from App Stores, https://www.beijing1980.com/2019/05/15/didi-app-disappeared-from-app-stores/

The Didi people had made warnings that the app needed an update and it would not work anymore at some point.
It continued however to work pretty well while requests for “updating” always failed.
That stopped late last year with an update for the iOS. The app remained on my screen but could not be opened. Luckily I did not delete it on my iPhone.

The app was still on the ‘purchased list on my Belgian Apple store but the app itself had disappeared. All the more confusing as the store has a Didi Driver app, to recruit drivers.
As I used Didi regularly I tried other channels:

– through the Alipay app: problem, all in Chinese. Then it also did not to work well for me, getting strange error codes like “bad pol id”. Ugh… Selecting a more expensive ride than seemed to work but without the easy use of the original English Didi app;
– through WeChat: also a bit complicated to find it and to navigate when using it. Again without the easy use of the original English Didi app. (screenshots added 21 Feb 21)

I looked into other services but missed the Didi app. And while the app was “dead” I continued to receive promotion messages…

Out of the blue

Then a few days ago suddenly there was a new message with Didi news. When I clicked, I could not believe: the app was working again without an update from the Apple Store!
I had to try several times to convince me, yes, it was working indeed.

Finding the version of the app is a challenge. It is difficult to locate and even more difficult to read. With some photo enhancing, see finally the version I have: V5.2.51.
How they did it, no idea but I am happy again!

Can we trust Chinese vaccine?

A backlash abroad over China’s vaccines

Can we trust Chinese vaccines? Some have doubts:
Writes NYT 26 January 2021:
The full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/25/business/china-covid-19-vaccine-backlash.html

China’s coronavirus vaccines were supposed to showcase the country’s scientific prowess and generosity. Instead, in some places, they have set off a backlash.
Delays, inconsistent data, spotty disclosures and the country’s attacks on Western rivals have marred an effort by Beijing to portray itself as a leader in global health. Recent studies showing that the one of the vaccines has an efficacy rate of just over 50 percent — much lower than earlier claimed — have caused some concern. (*)
Governments in Malaysia and Singapore are now having to reassure their citizens the vaccines are safe, and Philippine lawmakers are criticizing the government’s decision to purchase the vaccine made by Sinovac, a Chinese company. Sinopharm, a state-owned vaccine maker, and Sinovac have said they can produce up to two billion doses this year.
Details: Officials in Brazil and Turkey have complained that Chinese companies have been slow to ship the doses. At least 24 countries signed deals with Chinese vaccine companies after they were pushed out of the market for Moderna and Pfizer jabs by richer countries.
China’s response: The state news media started a misinformation campaign against the American vaccines, questioning their safety. Their videos have been shared by the U.S. anti-vaccine movement.

 (*) What I understand: this report from Instituto Butantã in Brazil is based on a different method than the usual way to test efficacy so it should not be compared to other results.

My remarks

The Chinese vaccines have been used since July 2020, see my LinkedIn post and SCMP:
“As I reported earlier… I would trust the Chinese vaccine, not the Russian one: China already using COVID-19 vaccine candidate on key workers, official says”

As far as I know, there have been no serious adverse reactions. Even if the government covered up the bad news I believe bad news would have leaked out one way or other.
The approach in China for the vaccination program is radically different from the West where old people (e.g. above 80 in some cases) and people with underlying health issues may have priorities. Gradually in the West the age limit has been lowered.
In China, in the first phase of the program: only for people aged 18-59 and priority for special categories such as supermarkets, restaurant, cold storage workers, health care workers and other. People with underlying health issues and pregnant women: no.
According to China Daily, after Chinese New Year the program might be extended to all.
At some point is was said that the first phase was not for foreigners but what I know foreigners in the right categories did receive the vaccine.

Why the difference?

There are many questions raised with the Chinese approach, and some comment:
– China is not sure about the safety of the vaccine for the categories excluded from the vaccination.
– Why is China exporting the vaccine to many countries where it is used for all people while in China there are restrictions?
– Why is China exporting massively the vaccine while limiting the vaccination inside China? Why this “priority”?

Overview of current vaccines

See this article:
How the coronavirus vaccines compare and who can get them

  • The race to carry out the biggest inoculation programme in history has begun, with six products approved and more to follow
  • What are some of the differences between the various vaccines and how many doses have been ordered around the world?


See the tables:

Do note that normally the vaccination in China is 2 doses with 2 weeks interval. As for efficacy rate, the figure is contested as noted already.

Vaccines: deliveries delayed

While currently many Western countries find out the promised deliveries are running behind schedule and the EU is complaining to the manufacturers, China does not clarify if their production capacity can meet the expectations of the population, and when and how older people and  foreigners will be able to get it.
Due to Chinese regulations, none of the overseas vaccines can be used in China as none has been approved. Foreigners could theoretically get in in their embassy but no any embassy has mentioned this possibility. Except for the Belgian embassy who seems to say “it won’t happen”.

Present situation

As far as I understand vaccination is now available to more citizens like in Beijing, but still with the restriction: only for 18 to 59 years old, not for pregnant women, people with “health issues”, …

See here the official Chinese announcement for our compound in the Worker’s Stadium area.

The next/present big question:
“5 things you need to know about post-vaccine travel”
See this article from TimeOutBeijing 26 January 2021:

In my case, I can only wait… wait… being over 59 and a foreigner.

Rotary Nuertingen Kirchheim Teck


My good friend Eli Khoury who worked a few years in Beijing is now the president of Rotary Nuertingen Kirchheim Teck Club in Germany. We miss him and his lovely family.
The club: https://nuertingen-kirchheim-teck.rotary.de
He invited me to give a talk about Beijing using ZOOM. I finally found a way to do it so that my face is not sun-burnt red – the camera of my iMac desktop sucks. The iPhone is much better, and with some extra lights it looks really so much friendlier.

Topic of the E-Meeting

“Surviving Beijing during the pandemic. What’s next for the economy?”

Time was 13:20 CET / 19:20 Beijing time on 16 September 2020 and the talk with Q&A took some 40 minutes. I gave an overview on how the COVID-19 epidemic started and how Beijing (and China) handled the fight against the virus, with the today result it is the safest place to be for the virus. I explained how life was during the “lockdown” – that was not really a lockdown as in other countries, while somehow draconian. I survived it very well. Now Beijing is slowly back to “normal” but still with some restrictions.

I also talked about the impact on the economy and what we can expect in the near future.
I also explained there is a lot of fake news, such as the story that China “made the virus by purpose”. And that it is clear another virus of the same kind can be expected in the future; to ward it off, China is clamping down on the trade of wild animals and improving the sanitary conditions of the “wet markets” where vegetables, fish, meat and so much more is sold.


The new buzzwords

Call it Digibesity, Mal de Coucou or OCUD, I often wonder if it is not worse than COVID-19.
Like for the dreaded virus we face now, this mobile virus has a few names:

Digibesitas (Dutch) or “Digibesity” for our English readers.
Cellfish: Those who continue to talk on their cell phone, oblivious to the effect on others around them.
Nomophobia: refers to the fear of being without your mobile phone or without a cellular or WIFI signal.
OCUD (Obsessive cell phone use disorder) describes a person who continually talks on their cell phone or checks updates on mobile apps in public, while driving, meeting friends or eating in a restaurant. Or going to a classical concert. Mal de Coucou is a new buzzword, says China Daily: “Describes a phenomenon in which a person has an active social life but very few close friends”.

The plague of the new era

I already published a few posts with some hilarious (not sure this is the right word!) pics and cartoons:

Digibesity books and articles: https://www.beijing1980.com/2017/04/06/digibesity-books-articles/

Digibesity can harm, and kill you: https://www.beijing1980.com/2017/04/04/digibesity-can-harm-kill/

Digibesity the new social plague: https://www.beijing1980.com/2017/04/04/digibesity-the-new-social-plague/

Do you suffer from OCUD or Mal de Coucou? https://www.beijing1980.com/2015/12/03/do-you-suffer-from-ocud-or-mal-de-coucou/

Call me old-fashioned

You can, but I don’t care. However, do note I am also hours on my mobile, plus desktop where I am active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and a few others. I stopped Instagram, not that interesting. Livestreaming for foreigners in China is totally forbidden. Can’t use the app Douyin and always failed to activate TikTok. Well, maybe not missing that much.

But I hate to sit with “friends” at a restaurant when they have more interest in their mobiles (and making stupid selfies), and people walking, biking and even driving glued to their mobile screens. They totally ignore the real world around them and are only alive in their artificial world.
I love to walk around and see what’s around me. And enjoying my food. BTW be aware it is bad for your health to eat AND look at your screens at the same time.

I miss the pre-mobile era

Looking at an old VHS of Madonna public performances (she is one of the greatest performers), one interesting aspect: no mobiles yet. People chatting with each other, not glued to their mobile, not taking pictures. The public during the shows actually is listening to the music and paying attention to the performers.
I miss that time.

When I was young we had no mobiles, only the fixed line at home that we had to share with the whole house. Privacy was often a problem so I learned to whisper in the phone to the annoyance of my parents. We survived very well, managed to meet and date, and have fun.

Love the pics

Here some more funny pics.


And a tell-all video:

More to come!