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Why do millions of Chinese people want to be 'spiritually Finnish'?

A Finnish cartoon about a socially awkward stickman has become a hit in China – even inspiring a new word in Mandarin. Why has it struck such a chord?

Privacy is something of a luxury in China, a land with a population of 1.4 billion. Personal space is not a concept that ordinary Chinese are familiar with. Pushing and shoving is a basic survival skill in cities. If you fail to push with fellow commuters to get on a packed underground train, you’ll be met with impatient stares.

Privacy is also political: the concept of “private property” or “private space” was castigated in the Mao era as an evil of the bourgeois class – and this communist ideal is very much alive today. Throughout China, people are happy to lie down for a nap just about anywhere: in an office pantry, on a park bench, even in a museum or concert hall foyer, looking as comfortable as if the public space were their own living room.

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