Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, tracking the rumor, humor, and gossip that Chinese netizens are chatting about. Think of it as your personal Alka Seltzer after a particularly winning weekend.
This week, Chow Yun-fat reminds us why he’s one of Hong Kong’s favorite actors by leaving his fortune to charity, an insurance scam has deadly consequences, and wanghong flowers die young. But first…
It wouldn’t be a proper week without some public transportation struggle. This one was no exception, as two dudes began duking it out on the subway at Shanghai’s Xujiahui station. While the rest of the carriage watched impassively, a crotchety old silver-haired American (judging by his accent) stepped up to the plate, yelling “Cut it out!” to the young men. The shamed pair quit tussling, and the admiring reaction online was enough to get the “heroic” incident replayed on national TV.
Heroics were also afoot in Chongqing, when a hammer-wielding carjacker boarded a public bus and took a 10-year-old girl as hostage, ordering the remaining passengers to evacuate. A video shows the driver, surnamed Fan, successfully locking down the engine and rescuing the girl, while suffering three hammer strikes. Fan sustained skull fractures and a concussion, but was later visited in hospital by the girl and her grateful family.
These incidents certainly mark a nice change from the usual subway interactions (including, recently, a silly spat over smoking, and a bizarre 2014 incident in which hundreds of passengers nearly trampled each other fleeing a Shanghai train after a foreigner fainted) and tales of helpless bystanders—though the local passengers could have perhaps done more in both cases.
Boys (and girls) over flowers
Mainland tourists have been up to their usual tricks, trampling a Hangzhou “sea of flowers” and destroying the three-year-old attraction in just three days, writes Dushi Kuaibao.
The park’s landscapers tried asking tourists to stop destroying their work, to no avail (163)
The 1.6-hectares “sea” of imported Muhlenbergia capillaris (also known as hairawn muhly) from Australia had been planted during the 2014 G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Due to the pink plant’s recent ubiquity in videos on live streaming platform Douyin, the attraction became an overnight “internet famous” destination, prompting the hordes to sit, stomp on, and lie down amid the fragile plants in search of the perfect selfie.
Workers have had to cut down most of the trampled grass, and the attraction’s managers are reportedly reviewing methods to prevent “uncivilized” behavior in future.
Faked death turns deadly
It’s a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale, only much, much worse: On October 10, a woman surnamed Dai from Hunan province, believing her husband to have drowned, posted a suicide note on WeChat, before killing herself and her two children, .
Reportedly, Dai’s husband He’s car had been found in a local river in late September, with He’s body believed swept away. A few weeks later, Dai decided to follow He, writing, “I leave with happiness, with who I love…Dear, I will be company for you. The only thing I want is for our family of four to be together.” The bodies of Dai and her children, aged 4 and 3, were found the next day.
There was a crueler twist to this tale, however, when the missing He turned himself in to police just a day later, confessing he’d faked his death in order to claim 1 million RMB in life insurance. He also filmed a video of his confession, in which he stated that he owed debts to credit cards and internet loans, due to partly to the medical expense of his daughter’s epilepsy. “I didn’t know your mother loved me so much,” He tells his deceased children in the video.
Even so, it seemed there were other reasons behind Dai’s decision to kill herself. Her suicide note mentioned people gossiping that she had something to do with her husband’s disappearance, and her in-laws “spreading rumors” that she had out-of-control spending issues and mental problems. By the time of writing, it’s not clear whether He will face criminal prosecution, but he is receiving counselling for (understandably) having a nervous breakdown after the incident.
In a recent interview, Hong Kong actor and all-round living legend Chow Yun-fat had some sound advice for how to be a“happy and normal person,” explaining that it’s “not about how much money you earn, but how to keep a peaceful mindset and live the rest of your life in a simple and carefree manner.”
To prove his point, the actor known as Fat Gor has promised to leave his 5.6 billion HKD fortune (714 million USD) to charity. The childless Chow, married to Jasmine Tan, had previously stated that he would give away 99 percent of his wealth, which includes properties worth more than 129 million USD. The actor is beloved in Hong Kong as much for his work as his stance on issues that have proved controversial on the mainland, previously telling detractors that he is prepared to “earn less” for his principles.
Despite earning around 6.6 million USD per role, the actor—most famous for his work in John Woo’s 1990s action movies such as The Killer and Hard Boiled, as well as Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—reportedly lives a simple lifestyle, using a classic Nokia flip phone for 17 years (until it broke), shopping at discount stores, using public transportation, and dedicating his free time to charity work. He allegedly spends only 800 HKD (102 USD) per month on himself—something most Hong Kongers can only dream about.