Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Vocabulary for the Tencent vs. Lao Gan Ma Case Posted by on Aug 3, 2020 in News

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A much-discussed drama involving the Chinese tech giant Tencent and the well-known Chili sauce brand Lao Gan Ma erupted last June.

Lao Gan Ma (老干妈 Lǎo gàn mā) is one of the most favored chili sauces in China. The company was founded by an illiterate woman from a mountain village who built her small noodles restaurant into a multibillion-dollar global sauce empire. Lao Gan Ma was established in 1996 and became the largest producer and seller of pepper products in China. Its output value is estimated at billions of RMB every year.

Tencent (腾讯 Téng xùn) is a Chinese conglomerate that specializes in various internet-related services and products. Its many services include social network, web portals, e-commerce, internet services, payment systems, and online games. Two of its famous products are QQ, a popular instant messaging platform in China; and WeChat, a popular social mobile application in China. With total equity of 465.162 billion RMB (as of 2019), Tencent is one of the world’s largest and valuable companies.

The incident began when a Chinese court (法院 fǎ yuàn) had frozen over 16 million RMB (around US$2.3 million) worth of assets belonging to Lao Gan Ma following a complaint filed by Tencent. The finance (财经 cái jīng) headlines announced:


Téngxùn qǐng qiú chá fēng Guìzhōu Lǎo Gàn Mā gōng sī 1624 wàn cái chǎn

Tencent requests the seizure of 16.24 million RMB worth assets of Guizhou Lao Gan Ma Company

Tencent sued (起诉 qǐ sù) the popular Chinese chili sauce brand over a contract dispute. According to Tencent, they have signed (签订qiān dìng) a marketing contract with Lao Gan Ma and delivered marketing promotions on their online platforms since then. Lao Gan Ma had broken the contract they signed in March 2019, and failed to pay advertising fees worth tens of millions RMB.

Lao Gan Ma quickly issued a statement (声明 shēng míng), claiming they had no commercial cooperation with Tencent:


Wǒ sī cóng wèi Téngxùn gōng sī jìn xíng guò rèn hé shāng yè hé zuò.

Our company has never conducted any business cooperation with Tencent.

The next day, Guizhou police released a statement, saying Tencent appears to have been duped by a group of people masquerading as representatives of the sauce company. Three people had been detained (刑拘 xíng jū), accused of forging (伪造 wěi zào) Lao Gan Ma’s company seal and pretending to work for the firm’s marketing team. The scammers signed a cooperation agreement with Tencent, China’s biggest video game firm. Their aim was to obtain online game codes, which the fraudsters later resold online.

Several days later, the two companies released a joint statement, reading:


Duì yú shì jiàn guò chéng zhōng de zhǒng zhǒng wù huì hé qiàn tuǒ zhī chù, Téngxùn yǐ xiàng Lǎo Gàn Mā fāng miàn dāng miàn zhì qiàn… Yóu yú cǐ shì duì shè huì gōng gòng yú lùn zī yuán zào chéng guò duō zhàn yòng, wǒ men shēn biǎo qiàn yì.

Tencent has apologized to Lao Gan Ma in private for all the misunderstanding it created and its mishandling of the situation… We are deeply sorry for letting the controversy take up so much space in the public discourse.


Text vocabulary

老干妈 Lǎo Gàn Mā = Lao Gan Ma

腾讯 Téng xùn = Tencent

公司 gōng sī = company

法院 fǎ yuàn = court of law

财经 cái jīng = finance and economics

查封 chá fēng =  to sequester, to seize (assets)

起诉 qǐ sù = to sue

签订 qiān dìng =  to agree to and sign (a treaty etc)

声明 shēng míng =  statement, declaration

合作 hé zuò =  to cooperate, to work together

刑拘 xíng jū =  to detain as criminal, criminal detention

伪造 wěi zào = to forge, to fake




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