Plas­tic friend­ship

NewsChina - - FLAVOR OF THE MONTH -

A vi­ral news story about a Chi­nese woman whose decade-long friend­ship im­ploded when her “friend” stole her wed­ding present has pop­u­lar­ized the term su­liao qing, mean­ing fake friend­ship.

Su­liao means “plas­tic” and qing “friend­ship.” But su­liao qing is a short­en­ing of su­liao jiemei qing, mean­ing “plas­tic sis­ters,” which came from an un­for­tu­nate vi­ral tweet that holds, “the friend­ship be­tween women is like a plas­tic flower – it's fake, but it never dies.”

It is un­clear when the term be­gan to spread among Chi­nese peo­ple, but it might be traced to China's wildly pop­u­lar TV se­ries about women of an­cient im­pe­rial house­holds forced to squab­ble among them­selves for the em­peror's love. A com­mon (and sex­ist) stereo­type sug­gests that women are more prone to jeal­ousy than men – par­tic­u­larly when it comes to their own gen­der. It would demon­strate su­liao qing for a woman to post online a photo with a friend in which her friend looks ugly. In the busi­ness world, a pop­u­lar trope holds that two women may ap­pear friends but, hear­ing the other is to be pro­moted, the first may get up­set or try to sab­o­tage the sit­u­a­tion.

Su­liao qing can also be used by a woman who dis­cov­ers her part­ner has cheated on her with her clos­est friend. In this case, even a “plas­tic flower” may die. Chi­nese peo­ple also now use this term to de­scribe a love­less mar­riage in which a cou­ple re­main to­gether. With no plan to di­vorce, they re­sign them­selves to pale life as a plas­tic flower with no fragrance.

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