You shouldn’t be that ambitious. Set a small target first, like earning 100 million yuan (US$14.5million).” That was the advice from China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, founder and chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, during a show on celebrities’ daily lives. His statement – a “small” target of “100 million yuan” – became one of the top catchphrases of 2016.
With “xiao” meaning “small” and “mubiao” meaning “target,” xiao mubiao originally refers to a basic and reasonable goal that an ordinary person could realize. But thanks to Wang’s words, it’s now used sarcastically online to mean an impossible target, out of the reach of ordinary people.
Many netizens were amused by the statement and made fun of it. Some jokingly said they understood Wang’s net worth of 170 billion yuan was made of 1,700 of his small targets. Others even adapted Neil Armstrong’s famous line: that this was one small step for Wang, but a giant leap for mankind.
Xu Jin, a commentator, noted that the phrase was revealing of modern society’s hierarchy and inequality. Most positive takes on the phrase suggested that different people have their own xiao mubiao, and that everyone should set such targets for themselves – but not just about money.