Yakexi: The New Year’s Hottest Internet Slang?

Recently, the Chinese internet has been abuzz with the term yakexi [亚克西]. According to a post on Baidu’s Baike, yakexi is the Uyghur word for good. The word has been in general use as a brand name for some time now, but it took on new meaning at this year’s Spring Festival Gala, where one of the performances was a song called “The Party’s Policies are yakexi“. Many netizens, finding the song to be excessive in its praises, have taken to mocking it and the word yakexi itself. More on this below, but first, the source material:

Click here to view a video of the performance on Tudou (now part of it is also on Youtube via Radio Free Asia). Here is a rough translation of the lyrics (the chorus bit in bold):

“The Party’s Policies are yakexi

http://www.tudou.com/v/EoflvnnP1U8

Memet I am happy today,
Overtaking a donkey, heading to the city,
New products on my back,
And money inside,
What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah
The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi.

Farmers work the land their whole lives,
Paying taxes is reasonable,
Nowadays the nation has abolished the agricultural tax,
Sunlight warms the bottom of [our] hearts,
(The nation abolished the agricultural tax, yakexi!)
What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah
The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi.

I have labored from when I was young and can’t read,
I couldn’t raise the money for my children’s tuition,
Nowadays primary and middle schools don’t require tuition,
Children can happily attend school,
(Primary and middle schools don’t require tuition, yakexi!)
What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah
The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi.

All through the year in all kinds of weather,
When you get sick you worry helplessly,
Nowadays cooperative health care has been established in rural areas,
Ensuring health and a sound body,
(Cooperative health care has been established in rural areas, yakexi!)
What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah
The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi.

In the past we built houses with mud-bricks,
And could only raise chickens in bamboo-walled huts,
Nowadays the government provides relief funding,
Quake-proof homes arise from the flat ground,
(The government provides relief funding, yakexi!)
What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah
The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi.

Our uncle Memet,
He is increasingly well-off,
These days things are a little strange,
What to buy with all this money?

[After the song, there was a brief speaking portion, which we won’t translate here. You get the picture.]

The Big Yakexi Art Competition

Han Han, never one to miss an opportunity to be snarky, has responded to the skit by calling for a competition to commemorate the word he says could replace “Grass Mud Horse” as this year’s internet meme of choice. From his blog:

The rules of the Big Yakexi Art Competition are thus: aside from the “What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah, The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi” part, contestants have free reign to alter the other parts [of the song]. Entrants must register and post their names as a reply to this post. There will be a grand prize (5000 RMB), a second prize (3000 RMB), and a jury prize (2000 RMB). All prizes will be payed by me personally, and the winners will be published on this blog and in [my] magazine Solo Chorus. My blog will also link yours, and establish a formal friendship.

Han Han is also searching for judges. Submissions so far are exactly what you’d expect, with many commenters parroting the chorus and replacing the verses with ones like this one by 龙卷风:

Housing prices are high,
Bad housing [situations] are widespread,
The people’s lives have again become an abyss of suffering,
What is yakexi, what is yakexi, ah
The CPC Central Committee’s policies are yakexi.
Tuition is high,
Studies are wasted,
College students live lives of debauchery…

But, as commenter 兰汐 noted, the contest won’t be easy to win:

As soon as I saw that yakexi means “good”, and the rule that you can’t change the chorus, [I felt] that really raises the difficulty level!

When the contest concludes and the winners are chosen, you’re sure to hear about it: Han Han has an army of hundreds of thousands of readers, so the winners will likely be good. In the meantime, we hope everyone’s New Year was even more yakexi than the Party’s policies!

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0 thoughts on “Yakexi: The New Year’s Hottest Internet Slang?”

  1. Damn I saw this video a while ago but didn’t see the meme until recently. I also heard the use of 亚克蜥 [Yake Lizard], a play off the Baidu’s mythical creatures.

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  2. Joe,

    You saw it a while ago? The performance was only a couple days ago.

    Otto,

    At some points throughout the performance (I watched it live), the performers did in fact say Yakshi (without the ch sound, but just a K sound).

    Not really related to the article, but I remember reading a while back that during the Olympics ceremonies in Beijing, that of all the children dressed as minorities carrying the flag for the soldiers near the end, every one was a Han. Did this hold true in this most recent performance, with Hans dressed as minorities?

    Also, and again not related to the article, does anyone know how it became “tradition” to watch this show on every spring festival eve? I’d really like to know how the word “tradition,” which is usually associated with things such as culture, art, and hanzi; became associated with a TV show that is used as a medium to pimp the CCP.

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  3. @ Josh: Actually, he might have seen it a while ago. It was one of the first skits to be announced and dress rehearsal footage has been floating around the net since early December, but it seems things didn’t really take off until after the actual show (when, of course, nearly the entire country saw it).

    @ Joe: Yeah, I’ve seen 亚克蜥 around too. They love their mythical animals.

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  4. Josh,
    As I know, the song was created a long time ago. Chinese people first heard this song in 1999 spring festival gala. I believe it was also called Yakexi, with same rhythm but different lyrics. The 1999 lyrics was more “normal”, with much less shoe-licking phrases.
    The new version was first performed and shown on Xinjiang TV. Chinese writer Han Han posted the video of the song one or two month ago, but it wasn’t until the spring eve gala that many more people are aware of this song.
    My guess is that most those performers, if not all of them are Han Chinese. It’s a quite common practice for Han performers dressing in minority clothes.

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  5. The yakexi song has been around awhile in different forms, here’s one from 2006.

    The refrain is done in both Chinese and Uyghur. If you’re wondering what ياخشى is supposed to sound like it comes after the two “shenma yakexi”; “nime yaxshi, nime yaxshi, dangzhongyangning siyasiti yaxshi”

    Regarding the first word 买买提 usually that’s the standardized pinyin for the Uyghur name Memet, which is frequently adopted as just the “generic” name for a Uyghur male (as in the female “Guli” – see http://autonomousregion.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/guli/)

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  6. “…where one of the performances was a song called “The Party’s Policies are yakexi“.”

    FFS. Really? If only that performance and those lyrics had been intentionally satirical. Perhaps they were – one can only hope.

    I’d be interested to know whether the performers were Uyghur or not.

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  7. Insulting idiocy like that skit is just begging for mockery. To embed from Tudou, just click on the link that says “站到博客或BBS“ then copy the HTML code

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  8. Stuart,

    See #6.

    Honestly, when I see stuff like Hans dressing as minorities and singing the party’s policies are yakexi, it makes me wonder if the CCP hired The Onion to do their program coordinating. I can see it now: The Onion sends a Chinese rep to the CCP offering rock bottom prices and the CCP agrees with alacrity, not knowing how foolish it seems to both Chinese and foreigners to have Hans dressed as Uighurs singing about how Uighurs love the ZF.

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  9. Josh,

    Thanks – missed that! I’m not at all surprised, though. It’s the same thinking that dresses 50 Han kids in minority costume for the Olympic opening ceremony.

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  10. too busy to find and watch the video for yourselves? quote an anonymous commenter xyz on a blog and use it as evidence. most of the performers clearly had turkish facial features at the new year show, very different from han looks.

    and it’s so good stuart, after travelling through time and making the biggest joke of himself on this blog, came back in this new year with usual chinese-bashing. keep up the good work.

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  11. @ Kaiser: Thanks, I am an idiot. (I was looking for some button on the flash bit itself, didn’t think to scroll down and look at the stuff below. It should be embedded now).

    @ Someone else: Yeah, the song has been around since the ’99 gala but it had different lyrics, I believe these lyrics are new as of this winter/this Gala (although it was seen before then, obviously)

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  12. I am uyghur .I think,I can give some information.unlikely to 2008 beijing olympic ,all the singer and dancer in this performance are uyghur or other xinjiangs minorities,they are from hotan region.so maybe all of them uyghur.because hotan area’s 97% populations are uyghur.im 100% sure that none of these performers not han chinese.the song was created long time ago as said. but the text is different from this one.the former ones text mainly about nature,and people’s ordinary life.and name is yakexi 亚克西。composer of the song were 王洛宾 wangluobin.the word yakexi 亚克西 means good.pronounce[ jah ʃi]亚何西 yahxi as said.but reality of xinjiangs very different from what the song said.I think its very ironic. i hope these informations helpful to you.I hope that you guys undestand if there any grammatical mistakes in my comment.I am sorry for my poor english.

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  13. ibrahim,

    It’s cool, dude. Post more often, as a minority opinion such as yours is hard to come by in what often turns into an “east vs. west” shitstorm.

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  14. “… but reality of xinjiangs very different from what the song said. I think its very ironic.”

    Truly this is the most informative comment thus far.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the CCP don’t do satire – which is what makes them so good at it.

    Like

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