Dragon boat festivities, same-sex relations, free speech backlash, and more
*The Viral Week That Was is our weekly round-up of the previous week’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about. Think of this as a nicotine patch to help ease yourself into the week after suckling on the smokey teat of the weekend.
Welcome back from a hopefully enjoyable Dragon Boat Festival, possibly filled with zongzi and merriment. Coming up on today’s issue of the Viral Week: a vicious backlash to an optimistic commencement speech, the progressiveness of Taiwan, buying out Grindr, and unrequited love. But first…
DRAGON BOAT NOSTALGIA
With the long weekend over, most workers will only have to suffer three more days of tedious office duties before resting once again.
What better time to reflect on the past weekend celebrations?
FREE SPEECH A BREATH OF NOT-SO-FRESH AIR FOR CHINA
By now, most readers will have heard of the commencement speech given by Shuping Yang at the University of Maryland.
If not, here it is.
Unsurprisingly, Yang’s speech caused a great deal of outrage amongst certain Chinese both here and abroad. And in response, a number of rival video were posted, hashtagged #ProudofChina, that showcased other overseas Chinese students’ views about loving their country.
Not one to be left out of matters involving an individual student abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also offered their two cents. The ministry condemned the speech and warned Chinese citizens to take responsibility for their remarks made in public. Xinhua even dispatched reporters in Kunming, the city where Yang grew up, to ask citizens if they had to wear masks on a daily basis to avoid respiratory problems (which is what Yang had alleged).
For her part, Yang has since come out and apologized for her speech. But despite all this coverage, there are several interesting points that need to be underlined.
Firstly, the majority of responses to Yang has been about how Kunming is beautiful and the air there is as fresh as daisies.
Where are the rebuttal to her claims on free speech? Given how fresh air was used as a metaphor for free speech and thus was the main point, you would think that any criticism on Yang would address this. Nope. (Yang also mentions China only once. Once!)
Secondly—it was a terrible commencement speech for the university and was mostly done for cheap cheers. Like most commencement speeches, replay Yang’s videos again and replace every mention of “the University of Maryland” with almost any other institution in America and it still works.
TAIWAN FEELS THE SAME-SEX LOVE
A court in Taiwan secured a huge PR coup last week for the island, by ruling that same-sex marriage should be allowed.
The legislature has now been given two years to amend Taiwan’s civil code and, if they fail to do, same-sex couples will still be able to marry anyway.
This marks the first time in Asia that gay marriage has been afforded legal status—and was greeted with widespread jubilation among progressive young Chinese and Asians across the hemisphere.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Strait, top Chinese lesbian app Rela (热拉, meaning “hot lesbian”) was shut down and its Weibo account and website also deactivated. Hats off to the censors once again for their impeccable timing, and uncanny eye for dodging a soft-power win.
The unexpected move was a bluntly authoritarian response to Rela’s role in helping to organize an event in which the mothers of gay children tried to participate at one Shanghai’s famous “marriage markets.”
After complaints and confrontation from other parents, the police intervened and expelled the mothers for not having registered for the regular event, and restored harmony to the park.
Last year, Chinese tech company Beijing Kunlun Tech bought a 62 percent stake in Grindr, the gay dating app.
Now, reports have come out that Kunlun is looking to strengthen its hold and take over the entire company in order to fully engage in Grindr’s day-to-day operations.
Not much is known as to how or what Grindr will change now they have been bought out by a games developer, but they will likely face stiff competition, on the mainland at least, from China’s own Blued.
WAITING FOR A BOY LIKE YOU
Last week, students of Dalian Maritime University were treated to a peculiar sight: A female student lingering outside the male dorms at around 7pm to declare her love to a fellow student, with a heart-shaped arrangement of candles.
Fast forward to 11pm and the girl was apparently still waiting for the object of her affection to show.
Eyewitnesses report that inside the heart were the letter “PRN”—could be the guy’s initials, could be a reference to a medical term, could be the kind of sweet inside joke that couples share. We may never know.
Of course, the online community could not pass by the opportunity. Here are some of the more popular comments:
Many times, you just end up moving yourself
Maybe she is just worshipping the dead, let’s not overreact
For something like this, it’s all about looks
When a woman is this forward, it never ends well
From behind, she seems to be good looking. If I was the guy, I would chase her
Cover image from @MusicWars