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The Fuwa ( ; literally "good-luck dolls", also known as "Friendlies"), are the mascot of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The designs were created by Han Meilin, a famous Chinese artist. The designs were publicly announced by the National Society of Chinese Classic Literature Studies on 11 November 2005 at an event marking the 1000th day before the opening of the games.

There are five fuwa: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini. Together, the names form the sentence " ", or "Beijing huanying ni," which means "Beijing welcomes you". Originally named 'The Friendlies', they were promoted as 'Fuwa' when there were concerns the name could be misinterpreted.

While originally given artistic licence in his commission, Han Meilin was subsequently requested by officials to include various Chinese design and fauna in the Fuwa. Han Meilin drew 1,000 models of possible Fuwa (including a dragon and an anthropomorphic drum) before settling on the five characters. He has since disowned the Fuwa and did not include them in his museum.


Name Beibei (贝贝) Jingjing (晶晶) Huanhuan (欢欢) Yingying (迎迎) Nini (妮妮)
Gender Female Male Male Male Female
Cultural inspiration Traditional Chinese New Year decorative picture of lotus and fish; fish design from Neolithic artifacts. Giant panda; Song Dynasty lotus-shaped porcelain. Olympic flame; Fire design from the Mogao Grottoesmarker. Tibetan antelope, Tibetan and Xinjiang ethnic costumes. Swift, a sort of swallow; Beijing's Sand Martin kite.
Olympic Ring Blue Black Red Yellow Green
Represented Element Sea Forest Fire Earth Sky
Actual Fengshui Element Water Wood Fire Earth Metal
Personality Friendly, and a leader Honest, optimistic Extrovert, enthusiastic Lively, independent Just, Kind
Represented ideal Prosperity Happiness Passion Health Good fortune
Represented sport aquatic sports weightlifting, judo, etc. ball sports/racquet sports track and field gymnastics
Notes In traditional Chinese culture, the fish represents prosperity, as the character for fish (鱼 / 魚) sounds the same as that for surplus (余 / 餘). The "carp leaping over the dragon gate" is a traditional allegory of following one's dreams and achieving them. The patterns from Beibei's headgear comes from artifacts unearthed at Banpo, site of a Neolithic village of the Yangshao culture. As an endangered species, the panda is both a national symbol of China and an international symbol of environmentalism. Jingjing's forest origins also symbolize the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature. Huanhuan represents the passion of sports, the Olympic spirit of "faster, higher, stronger", and the passion of the Beijing Olympics. Huanhuan's headgear comes from a fire design in the Mogao Cavesmarker, the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes. The Tibetan antelope is an endangered species native to the Tibetan Plateaumarker, known for its swiftness. Yingying's headgear incorporates elements of Tibetan and Xinjiang ethnic costumes. The swallow is a messenger of spring and happiness in Chinese culture, and is seen as a symbol of good fortune. The Chinese character for swallow (燕) is also used in Yanjing (燕京), an old name for Beijing; thus the swallow alludes to Beijing. Nini's headgear uses the design of Beijing's Sand Martin kites, which are colourful cross-shaped kites modeled after swallows.


TV series

A 100-episode Olympic-themed cartoon series featuring the Fuwa was released in China, primarily on BTV (Beijing's municipal television network), on 8 August 2007. Titled The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa ( ), it was jointly produced by BTV and Kaku Cartoon.

There are also two other cartoons created by CCTV.

Video game

The characters made cameo appearances in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games video game.

China Environmental Awareness Programme

The China Environmental Awareness Programme program, started in 2001, has the Fuwa raising public environmental awareness by spreading clean, green messages.

Fuwa theater show

A large-scale fairy-tale drama entitled Friendlies (or Fuwa) has been directed by to Beijing Children's Art Theater Cooperative to promote the five mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As ambassadors of peace, the Fuwa will make a world-tour, visiting all seven continents.


Groups seeking to raise political issues in tandem with China's hosting of the Olympic Games have used the Fuwa or have created similar mascots.

  • Nu Wa, a monkey with a red bandana, was created by Amnesty International. Nu Wa means "angry young boy".

  • Gen Gen, a red and yellow character wearing a skull and crossbones gun and a fuel bowser nozzle head-dress, was developed by a group seeking to raise attention to the People's Republic of China's involvement in Darfurmarker. Gen Gen's name is derived from the term genocide.

In addition, Beijing residents have allegedly created their own Fuwa set consisting of a swan, a dragonfly and a taxi. Collectively their names – "Ya", "Ting", "De" – spell out "bastard" in Beijing slang. (Note that among friends, "ni ya ting de", which means "you bastard", is a common term of endearment but is considered crude by many.)



Mascots on display in Beijing
the months leading up to the Olympics, coincidental similarities between the characters and several events became were noted on the internet blogs under titles such as "Curse of the fuwa". Some Chinese have taken to calling the characters "Wuwa" (witch dolls). Online criticism of the dolls has frequently been censored.

Killer barracuda

The Fuwa Beibei is represented by a Chinese sturgeon. Five sturgeons were presented by China to Hong Kong with each fish representing an Olympic ring, in addition to the "motherland's love" for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The smallest of the five sturgeon (1.1 meters) was bitten by one of the barracudas housed in the same aquarium, and died the day after being publicly released into the city's theme park aquarium Ocean Parkmarker. Necropsy showed that the bite was not aggressive, but a reflex action from contact between the fish. Ocean Park said no one is at fault since in the almost 10 years the eight barracudas had been with the park, they had never showed any signs of aggression. Feng shui experts were divided about the death of the sturgeon, there were some that said this event may imply misfortune, and there were some that said 'the public did not need to worry too much because all fish die' and 'Can I say it's a bad omen for the Olympic Games if, for example, my five tadpoles - which I say represent the Olympic rings - die at home?'. Beijing's central government replaced the one that died with five more sturgeons.

Han Meilin

The 72-year-old artist Han Meilin suffered two myocardial infarctions while designing the Fuwa.


Human Rights

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China group led by Szeto Wah have said the Olympic slogan should be changed to "the same world, the same human rights, the same dream, vindication for the 4 June Tiananmen Square protestmarker". The group added that the five Fuwa dolls should represent democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law and peace.


  1. CCTV - retrieved 11 September 2007
  2. Mascot renamed Fuwa in English
  3. The Wall Street Journal "[1]." Here's Another Olympic Sport:Skewering the Mascots Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  4. Beijing official website.
  5. Feng Shui FAQs Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  6. [2] Five FuWa to star in a national campaign to promote Green Olympics.
  7. [3]Large-scale Fairy Tale Friendlies (Fuwa).
  8. " Uncensor." China's Choice: A New Human Rights Record Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  9. Playfair "[4]." Respect Worker's Rights in the Global Sporting Goods Sector Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  10. " Dream for Darfur." Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  11. The Wall Street Journal "[5]." Here's Another Olympic Sport:Skewering the Mascots Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  12. Yahoo. " Yahoo." Curse of the fuwa. Retrieved on 2008-06-21.
  13. Khaleejtimes. " Khaleejtimes." Chinese link earthquake to ‘unlucky’ Olympic mascots. Retrieved on 2008-05-19.
  14. The Wall Street Journal "[6]." Here's Another Olympic Sport:Skewering the Mascots Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  15. Wall street journal. " WSJ." Here's Another Olympic Sport: Skewering the Mascots. Retrieved on 2008-07-26.
  16. The Wall Street Journal "[7]." Here's Another Olympic Sport:Skewering the Mascots Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  17. Olympics.scmp. " Olympics.scmp." Fishing for an angle to Olympic fortunes. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.
  18. Chinadaily. " Chinadaily." Chinese sturgeon dies in Hong Kong aquarium. Retrieved on 2008-07-18.
  19. Thestandard. "" Blame game all a bit fishy. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.
  20. "" Hong Kong red-faced after killing China Olympic mascot fish. Retrieved on 2008-06-25.
  21. Chinadaily. " Chinadaily." Chinese sturgeon dies in Hong Kong aquarium. Retrieved on 2008-07-18.
  22. HKStandard. " HKStandard." No one at fault in sturgeon death says Ocean Park. Retrieved on 2008-06-25.
  23. HKStandard. " HKStandard." No one at fault in sturgeon death says Ocean Park. Retrieved on 2008-06-25.
  24. SCMP. "[8]." Fung shui expert fishing for an angle to Olympic fortunes. Retrieved on 2008-06-25. This link may get relocated like most SCMP links. Look in the archive for the article title.
  25. "" Beijing to give five more sturgeons to Hong Kong. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.
  26. The Wall Street Journal "[9]." Here's Another Olympic Sport:Skewering the Mascots Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  27. Mingpao yahoo. " Mingpao yahoo." mingpao 支聯會奧運概念悼六四. Retrieved on 2008-05-19.

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