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September 10, 2009

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Wanna be an Internet millionaire?

A 1-million-yuan Internet quiz show tests the "thumb tribe's" skill in using WiFi cell phones to answer complicated questions like how many buttons are on the suit worn by a pop idol. Xu Wei clicks. The hottest and richest game show in China is clearly the new "Internet Millionaire" that offers mega bucks for swiftly answering obscure questions that require cell phone Net surfing.

Three accomplished members of the "thumb tribe" will take part in the online finals on September 28 at 8pm on

The winner takes 1 million yuan (US$147,000) in cash.

It's believed to be the only Chinese mainland quiz show to give away a pile of cash. And it tests IT resourcefulness and fast thinking, not knowledge per se, trivia or memory. Hand-eye coordination too.

Everyone uses a standard cell phone with Internet access. They have 90 seconds to answer, but some questions take longer.

One example, from a press conference demonstration: How many buttons on the suit worn by Hong Kong pop star Andy Lau when he held hands with his fiance Carol Choo announcing they would wed at Kuala Lumpur Airport on August 25? The answer came in two minutes: Five buttons.

Most contestants are members of the "thumb tribe" that virtually grew up with cell phones and console game controllers in their hands. This is very much a quiz show for our times.

Ten finalists, aged 19 to 41, emerged on Monday after they demonstrated superb handling of a cell phone's Internet-surfing function to answer complicated questions - they also demonstrated team spirit in calling on ordinary Netizens for help.

Elimination rounds will narrow the field to three; rounds will be broadcast live.

Since it started in June, the new game show hosted by and Nokia has attracted more than 520,000 Netizens from all over the country.

Each of the final rounds will be broadcast live on

It asks questions like:

In "Romance of Three Kingdoms," what was the weather like when the warlord Liu Bei visited the famous strategist Zhuge Liang's house on his second visit?

Answer: Heavy snow.

Which Chinese character has the highest use-frequency?

Answer: De (of).

Which Queen poker card wears a weapon?

Answer: Queen of Spades.

What's the motto of high school detective Conan?

Answer: There is only one truth.

Many questions are submitted by Netizens.

Cao Qinghua, a 32-year-old white collar, is one of the finalists.

Like millions of Chinese people, he was captivated by "Slumdog Millionaire," the Oscar-winning film about a boy from the Mumbai slums who strikes it rich on a TV quiz show and wins 20 million rupees (US$411,482).

"If I'm lucky enough to win, I will buy a car," Cao says, "and use the rest of the money to start my own business."

Chinese TV quiz shows don't award such huge sums of cash. China Central Television's "Happy Dictionary" and "Lucky 52," among the most popular, usually give away household appliances and free air tickets.

"'Internet Millionaire' mostly tests contestants' fast thinking, resourcefulness and ability to improvise searches through mobile Internet search engines," says Cao. It also tests "good psychological quality," he says.

Faced by some real tough questions, finalists can turn to their friends or other Netizens for help through online chat, demonstrating the positive power of the Internet.

Celebrities will add some flare to the contest. Taiwanese TV host Jacky Wu, singer Banny Chen and local comedian Zhou Libo will comment on the questions and contestants.

Netizens can also take the quiz simultaneously with the contestants. If they give the correct answer faster, they will receive gifts.

Finalist Tang Yini, 20, from Shanghai University of Sport, says: "I'm too young to use such a lot of money, so I will ask my parents to keep it."

Contestants have a lot of dreams about 1 million yuan. They could buy an apartment, a car, start their own business, or travel to Spain to watch a Real Madrid soccer match.

According to Wang Wei, founder and CEO of, "Internet Millionaire" is a platform for anyone who wants an Internet income.

"The Internet has changed people's traditional way of acquiring information," Wang says. "China has a large number of mobile and Internet users, which encourages us to present more customer-oriented programs.", which has 200 million users a month, has already collaborated with traditional media and famous brands to host interactive events such as the "Tudou Angel" talent show and video series "Sufei's Diary."

To support small-budget films, has launched a film-making competition for Netizens and first-time directors. The winners will be helped getting their films screened and distributed nationwide.

Professor Gu Xiaoming, a media expert from Fudan University, considers game shows creative and meaningful if they can improve people's ability to use Internet search engines for positive ends.

"The Internet is not a cold virtual world," he says. "It reflects hidden needs. It's good that contestants can turn to unknown Netizens for help, which makes a strong Internet connection."

Professor Gu also stresses that this use of the Internet to connect people is very different from what is known in China as "human flesh" searches online. These mobilize Netizen vigilantes to dig up and expose all kinds of information about someone. 'Yellow River Cantata' choir draws 22,000 applicants A grand chorus singing the "Yellow River Cantata" to be held on September 19 at Shanghai Jiangwan Stadium has drawn applications from more than 22,000 musicians and music lovers. Many have applied online.

The 85-year-old artist Cao Peng will conduct the chorus to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the cantata composed by Xian Xinghai.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China, video Website will also present a series of interesting video clips. They include classic Chinese ads, famous Chinese snacks and grassroots folk exercises. Some of the clips are originals uploaded by the Netizens.


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