Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about. Think of this as your first day of school being canceled due to a summit of African leaders being in town.
Coming up this week, we have ads to ring in the new school year, a war on near-sightedness, and a choice of ways to settle accident compensation claims. But first…
Self-defense ruled over Kunshan killing
A brutal knife murder in Jiangsu province went viral last week, as netizens fretted over the complexity of the killing. On August 27, the driver of a BMW had a right-of-way dispute with the rider of the electric scooter while traveling in the bike lane and drunk. The car owner, surnamed Liu, proceeded to beat and curse the biker, Mr. Yu, then assaulted him with a 59-centimeter knife. Unexpectedly, Liu dropped the knife and Yu picked it up, slashing back and killing Liu.
The chief controversy of the case focused on whether Yu was using the weapon in justified self-defense, or whether he overreacted, which would lead to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Beijing lawyer Zhou Baomin told the Legal Mirror he expected the latter. Certainly, China has a record for a high conviction rate, and there have been similar cases such as last year’s Yu Huan incident, in which a man was sentenced to life in prison after he killed a man who had sexually abused his mother and threatened him with violence.
To the public’s great excitement, though, the Public Security Bureau and the People’s Court of Kunshan released an extremely detailed ruling and declared Yu free of criminal responsibility on September 1, causing many to declare, “Justice has prevailed!”
First ad of the new semester
As a prelude to the start of the new school year, the Ministry of Education ordered all primary and secondary school students and their parents to watch an “educational show” co-produced with CCTV over the weekend: “First Class of the New Semester.” So strict was the instruction that some schools even asked parents to send photographic evidence that they’d viewed the film, and many students were required to write a review.
But when students and their parents dutifully tuned in, as instructed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, what they found was 13 minutes of commercials preceding the actual show, most of which advertised tutoring services and after-school classes.
Feeling deceived, parents took to social media to complain about the inappropriate actions of the national broadcaster. As a result, CCTV issued an apology on Sunday, admitting the “excessive ads affected both the parents and the students watching the program.”
Game industry hit by war on myopia
China is planning to restrict the release of new online games, as part of the effort to reduce the myopia rate among students.
In order to protect young students’ eyesight, eight government agencies including the Ministry of Education and the National Health Commission issued a new policy suggesting preschool students can only use electronic products for non-academic purposes for 15 minutes or less per class, and no more than an hour a day. The anti-myopia campaign does not address how limiting the release of new online games can help reduce the time students spend on the computer, nor provide evidence that online gaming is more likely to cause myopia than watching TV—or, for that matter, using computer programs and apps to do homework.
However, the influence of the ban is already felt by the gaming industry: On Friday, shares of Tencent and NetEase, two Chinese game giants, fell by around 5 and 7 percent respectively. According to Beijing Youth Daily, about 80 percent of video game companies on the Chinese A-share market saw a decrease in their stock price.
In contrast to the Kunshan tragedy, netizens are hailing another recent car accident in Chengdu as “the most harmonious dispute settlement.”
On August 29, driver Mr. Tan scratched the vehicle of taxi driver Mr. Liu, but the two could not agree whether the compensation should be 500 RMB or 700 RMB. At Tan’s suggestion, they decided to settle the matter by a game of rock-paper-scissors. Liu won and got his desired 700 RMB.
Good thing nobody then suggested playing for best out of three…