China / Society

Looking back at the most memorable moments of 2015

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-04 07:55

In the first of a two-part series, China Daily reporters recall the stories and incidents that stood out last year.

Peng Yining: From tattoos to Tian'anmen

Looking back at the most memorable moments of 2015

Best story: My favorite story of the year was a feature I wrote about young urban residents in big cities getting the needle. Although tattoos are often regarded as an art form primarily associated with criminals and gang members, most of my interviewees were "normal" people with decent jobs, who pay their taxes and love their families.

Urbanization continues at a scorching pace in China, and for many younger people the process has resulted in feelings of alienation and loss of identity. These frustrations and emotions have seen the popularity of tattoos, once a symbol of rebellious subculture, soar.

Most interesting person: I met a young designer in Beijing, who I interviewed for the tattoo story. He told me that he likes the Monkey King. Actually, a lot of people do, because the Monkey King is one of the great figures of Chinese literature and used his immense strength and intellect to rebel against Heaven. He has long been regarded as the Chinese version of a superhero.

However, the 25-year-old designer said: "I like the Monkey King, not because he was a rebel, but because he gave up. He stopped rebelling."

As the main character in the classic Journey to the West, the Monkey King surrendered to the Buddha and undertook a journey to search for sutras, sacred Buddhist texts.

"I did that too, in a way. No matter how wild and amazing your youth was, eventually, you cover up your tattoo and go find a 9-to-5 job," he said.

That was my favorite interview of 2015. When I spoke with this designer and other ordinary young people, I felt they had shared their most intimate feelings with me.

Most memorable reporting experience: I was spending the entire night in Tian'anmen Square as I waited to cover the parade to mark 70 years since the end of World War II the next morning. Very few people get the opportunity to watch the stars in the middle of the night at Tian'anmen.

Best quote: The best quote of the year came from another interviewee for the tattoo story: "People always look at me with surprise when they see my tattoos, and that moment makes my day. I feel I am different, different from the gloomy crowd on the bus."

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