Post-gaokao beatings, Xi’an gets a “zombie lane,” quarrelers blocked by WeChat, and two more fugitives fall to Hong Kong singer’s spell—it’s Viral Week
Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the previous weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about. Think of it like the end of last week’s gaokao madness—which, actually, it is.
This week, Jacky Cheung’s adds to his growing reputation as a magnet for fugitives, WeChat blocks the haters, and parents (violently) release tensions after the gaokao. But first…
Lane of the Living Dead
China has a severe cellphone-addiction problem, and it is not uncommon to run into people walking with their noses in their phone. In most cases, this reduces them to a zombie-like state, marked by inattention to their surroundings and a glacial walking speed, bringing inconvenience to all.
For the consideration of innocent passersby, the city of Xi’an has now installed a special lane for phone addicts on a sidewalk along Yanta Road.
Painted red, green, and blue, the 0.8-meter wide, 100-meter long lane has pictures of smartphones painted along its route, so users can easily distinguish it from the rest of the sidewalk by an absentminded glance out of their peripheral vision.
Xi’an is not the first city in China to come up with creative ideas to deal with “zombie pedestrians.” In September 2014, a property management company in Chonqing opened a special lane for phone users on a 30.48-meter stretch of pavement,.
Mr. Ma may have been wanted for robbery, but nothing was going to stop him from seeing his idol Jacky Cheung in concert in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, on Sunday.
Ma should have followed the news more closely: Since April 7, three fugitives had already been nabbed by facial recognition technology at various stops of Cheung’s 16-city “Classic Tour,” leading netizens to dub the Hong Kong singer as no longer a “Heavenly King,” but the “Enemy of Fugitives.” This time, though, Ma was spotted the old-fashioned way, when police noticed him approaching patrons at the concert venue to offer scalped tickets (but he would have “used the ticket to see the concert if he couldn’t sell them, as he was a die-hard fan of Cheung,” according to media reports).
A fifth fugitive, surnamed Zheng, was also caught shortly before the concert, though admittedly, he wasn’t there for Cheung—he just had the bad luck to escape to Jinhua the very day of a high-security event.
The singer has denied these detentions are anything but a coincidence, saying, “If these criminals weren’t caught at my concert, they would have been caught at the convenience store,” adding, “I must thank them for coming to my concert; it seems that all people need entertainment.” Nevertheless, the police department of Luoyang, Henan province, where Cheung has a scheduled stop in July, has posted on Weibo: “We’re ready.”
Quarrelers’ quorums forced to quit
Venting on the internet is nothing new, but recently, one type of WeChat group, known as 骂群 (“insult group”) or 互喷群 (“mutual roasting group”), has been providing a new social media users with a new platform of stress relief. Simply join a group and start insulting the other members: It’s every angry youth’s dream.
These group first caused attention after the second game of the NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State, and fans of each team organized a group where they could curse at one other (it’s almost touching…in a way). Subsequent groups that were formed showed that people can quarrel over anything, in good fun or otherwise: liking or hating coriander, staying up late vs. getting up early, adding tapioca or not adding tapioca to milk tea, supporting Cui Yongyuan vs. Fan Bingbing, southerners vs. northerners, Adidas vs. Nike lovers…Members also bash one another in creative ways: Rap, b-box, freestyle, songs, memes are all acceptable.
However, these quarrelsome quorums have gotten in the crosshairs of regulators. On June 8, WeChat’s security team released a statement saying “Chat groups that have vicious content will be closed.” Private accounts involved in these groups will also be closed, or their users will be prevented from logging in.
The end of college entrance exams (gaokao) is usually when China’s “Senior Three” students, who have been cramming for the exam since the start of high school (or birth), can relax and thanks their teachers for their hard work. One Senior Three homeroom teacher in Sichuan province, though, was invited over by his student’s parents—for a beating.
According to the teacher, surnamed Du, he had banned the student in question several times from using his mobile during lessons, and dating. On June 8, after the gaokao, Du was having dinner with his students when he was invited twice by one student and his parents to have a drink together. After he declined, the parents, who are reported to be teachers themselves, brought along two men to stop him from leaving the restaurant and beat him till he bled. Du’s 3-year-old daughter, whom he was holding at the time, also reportedly suffered some injuries.
Teacher beatings are not new to China, though, despite its culture of deference towards them. According to the Legal Mirror, there were at least 13 incidences of teachers being beaten in 2015, including three by parents and 10 by primary, middle, or high school students. Teachers were beaten for reasons such as nagging students about homework, calling parents about their child’s bad behavior, punishing students for tardiness, and—ironically—stopping fights.
The two men who took part in the beating have been detained 15 days and fined 1,000 RMB each. It’s unclear if the student’s family suffered any punishment, leaving media to ruminate on the decline of the Confucian value of 尊师重道, or “respect for teachers and their teachings.”