One of Chinas most popular television shows Super Tongue, provided by Ifeng.com (NYSE: FENG) and Shenzhen TV, tests the frontiers of professional debate and public interest.
At its debut in January, Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor-in-chief of Chinese news outlet Global Times, told his traumatic memories of being a war correspondent in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
The soup on his lunch table bounced up when fire started just around the corner, and when bullets skimmed past the head, it was Death that was rubbing your ears, he said.
Together with three other brilliant lecturers, Hu mentored 48 young candidates of diverse backgrounds, on striving for the debate champion, to showcase the charm of being quick-minded and smooth-tongued.
Among them were not only professional debaters, but also lawyers, scholars, anchors and even singers. As the only debater without a Chinese root, Italian boy Mattia Romeo has impressed the audience with his verbal proficiency.
During each debate, they argued about a topic that addresses certain social conflicts and answers Chinese youths anxiety. For example, one question was raised as which input can help alleviate poverty more efficiently, educational or industrial.
Those topics were deliberately selected based on big data of public opinions online, which aimed at tracking the most discussed issues and initiating a national brainstorm. The show has achieved massive attention. The hashtag #SuperTongue has attracted more than 210 million views on Weibo.
It has also ridden the tide of debate popularity in recent years. A similar show, Qipa Shuo, or U Can U Bibi in English, set a good precedent that has been especially liked by Chinas millennials.
However, the latest season of Qipa Shuo has been accused by some of being too entertaining and superficial. Super Tongue, catching up with the debating spirit, has been trying to achieve a more serious and international model.
This debate today may overturn the traditional debate mode and pushes it to a new era, commented Zhang Zhaozhong, a retired navy general who was another mentor of the show.
Established in 1998, Phoenix New Media Limited (NYSE: FENG) is a leading new media company with an integrated platform of websites, mobile apps and video channels.