Looking to the past
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century
Published 2019-08-28

When HarmonyOS, the Chinese self-developed operating system for Huawei mobile devices, was released on Aug 9, it quickly became a hot topic on social media. Many believe it not only represents the rise of the country as a tech power, but also pays tribute to classical Chinese culture by naming the system “Hongmeng” in Chinese.

“Hongmeng” is a classical word from the Taoist text Zhuangzi. In the ancient times of Chinese myths and legends, “Hongmeng” was used to describe the original state of the universe before matter existed.

For HarmonyOS, “Hongmeng” indicates the developers’ aim to make an innovative operating system, unlike any other.

Besides “Hongmeng”, Huawei has also registered many of its products under the names of legendary creatures from Chinese mythology. For example, the company’s Kirin mobile chip got its name after a mythical lucky monster called “Qilin”. And its server chip is called “Kunpeng”, a mythical creature that changed from a fish into a giant bird.

Many Chinese internet users and media have praised Huawei’s use of these names, “as they stand for Chinese wisdom and ancient people’s imagination and spirit of exploration”, Global Times noted.

In fact, Huawei is not alone in using traditional culture for modern ventures. Ne Zha, the new film, also portrays traditional culture in a modern context. Earlier this month it became the biggest animated movie in China and was called “the glorious light of domestic anime”.

The movie is loosely based on the well-known work of classical Chinese mythology The Investiture of the Gods. Unlike his attractive heroic character in previous cinematic works, Ne Zha is shown as a rebellious underdog, who has to overcome hardship and his dark fate to become a hero.

The main character, Ne Zha, has also changed his attitude, becoming “the epitome of the rebellious but righteous youth”. Many young Chinese people can relate to Ne Zha, who encourages them to become dream-chasers and fate-changers.

Indeed, the long history and splendid classic works have given China a profound culture. Myths and legends are the creative works of tremendous imagination. As Global Times put it, today by revisiting and incorporating a modern context, “ancient mythology has the power to ignite contemporary imagination in young people”. After all, imagination is the beginning of creation.

(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)
Devices  设备
Pays tribute to  致敬
Myths and legends  神话传说
Portrays  呈现
Context  背景
The Investiture of the Gods  《封神演义》
Rebellious  叛逆的
Underdog  劣势者
Fate  命运
Epitome  典范
Righteous  正直的
Tremendous  巨大的