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 this as the green light to board your flight after a seven-hour delay.
This week, the biggest news is the vaccine scandal. Before that, a brave gaokao student gets his hands dirty, there’s a fireworks fracas in Harbin, and it’s not just hot—it’s flood season. But first…
But, given his multi-language skills, and the fact that Yi is currently assigned to directing traffic around the conference center hosting the Silk Road International Expo in Xi’an, we cannot help but fear that Yi is either being wasted as a beat cop—or this is some police propaganda!
Meanwhile, in Guizhou, the cops are apparently far less formal: A motorcyclist was stopped for not wearing a helmet by a shirtless man wearing swimming trunks, claiming to be an officer. Unconvinced, the man demanded credentials and dared the shirtless man to fine him. The county police has since confirmed that the man in swimmers was involved in an undercover sting operation to stop illegal fishing in the nearby river. The officer told West China Metropolis Daily, “If we had turned up in uniform, we would never have caught them, so we brought our swimming trunks and stripped off, pretending we were just going for a dip in the river.” So, hardly undercover in any sense…
To prove that it’s the regalia that makes the rules, a traffic police statue installed at an intersection in Huining, Gansu province, was apparently so realistic that a passerby stopped, get out of his vehicle, and filmed himself beating the fiber-glass law enforcer, shouting, “Put your hand down!” and “You stop drunk drivers every day! Now I’m gonna teach you a lesson!” The statue had supposedly swayed as the man drove by, adding to its verisimilitude. The aggressor was arrested on a charge of provocation; he was reported (it almost goes without saying) to have been drunk. Meanwhile, netizens are scratching their heads over how the assault could lead to an arrest.
Last Friday, a video of a summer intern at a construction site in Hefei, Anhui, went viral, notching over 1.4 million views on Weibo. Shanxi native Liu Cheng Dong, 19, scored 482 out of 750 on this year’s gaokao, eight points above the required threshold to get into a first-tier university. But, while many other high-achievers spent the summer celebrating the attainment of xué bà (学霸) status, Liu’s father reportedly made him work on a construction site, mingling with shirtless men who hadn’t even completed high school, chopping branches in the sweltering heat, while getting bitten by bugs and pricked by thorns and nettles. (Where do we sign up?)
Netizens were touched by Chen’s stoic reflection on his “proletarian” summer: “I used to have a bad temper, but working here has changed me for the better. No matter who you shout at, nobody here cares.”
It seems that the romantic appeal of the iconic “Down to the Countryside Movement,” when millions of decommsioned Red Guards and “bourgeois” youth were “sent down” to inhospitable areas to learn from rural workers, still holds sway over a Chinese community mostly made up of young adults who feel forced to constantly worry about reaching the upper echelons of society—or, at least, not fall down the ladder.
During the evening celebrations, he posted a video on his Weibo with the caption “I love Harbin, my hometown.” Next day, thousands of Harbin residents left angry comments, from “Completely immoral” and “Is that what you call loving your hometown?” to “Do you think you can call yourself a Harbin person?”
Why all the rage? Apparently, the party had let off fireworks after midnight that woke “half of Harbin.” Elderly citizens also complained of heart pains as a result of being startled by the noise, and babies were woken up and cried throughout the night. Although Bao Bei’er cannot be held solely responsible, his fame has made it easier for Harbiners to vent their grievances:
“So it was you last night?…Fireworks display for half the night, celebrities just think they can break the law nowadays” (WeChat)
“Your films should get taken down…a public figure without a concern for the public does not deserve people from his hometown to respect him” (WeChat)
Beijing is not hardest hit, however: Last week, flood waters in Sichuan and Gansu provinces led to deaths of 15, the evacuation of 128,000, and the destruction of 1,800 houses. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management are making relief funds available to those affected. Flash flooding also affects city and government centers, as seen in this video taken during a TWOC editor’s weekend trip to Tianjin: