Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, tracking the rumors, humor, and gossip that Chinese netizens are chatting about. It’s like never having the heating switched on after a cold November rain…
This week, a Khmer kid gets invited to be on TV in Beijing, a marathon runner’s victory gets flagged up, an official ages badly, and Wang Sicong is still in the news. But first….
Golden Horse-around: Bingbing’s back
Missing millionaire movie-star Fan Bingbing resurfaced after months of silence (and one apology) to wade into the storm swirling around Taiwan’s Golden Horses film awards this weekend.
Film buffs were particularly appreciative of the recognition given to director Hu Bo, whose sensitive feature An Elephant Sitting Still won a posthumous Best Feature Film prize, after the 29-year-old Hu committed suicide earlier this year over creative differences with the studio. Zhang Yimou garnered 12 nomination and one Best Director for wuxia flick Shadow.
But politics dominated much coverage, with actress Gong Li refusing to share a stage with director Lee Ang, and mainland netizens venting about the Best Documentary award going to Our Youth In Taiwan, a decision that saw mainland broadcasters cutting the feed. Along with dozens of other celebrities, Bingbing dutifully stepped up her transparent charm offensive by re-sharing the furious meme first posted by the Communist Youth League.
“China can not lose even one bit of itself” (Weibo)
Multilingual Cambodian kid wows Chinese media
Video of a Cambodian boy hawking souvenirs while speaking in seemingly fluent Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Japanese and Thai, filmed by a Malaysian tourist at a temple in Angkor Wat, has proved a hit on Chinese social media, with a TV station even inviting the boy to Beijing. But some have complained that this seemingly sweet story masks a whole range of problematic issues, from enabling short-sighted parents who send Khmer children to beg, rather than be schooled, to exoticizing the poor.
Official shows his roots
Grassroots official Li Zhongkai, party chief of an impoverished village in Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture, Yunnan, became a sensation over the weekend, because he claims to be only 38. After six years working on poverty alleviation, Li was included in a list of nominees for government positions. But the photo on his resume, released by the local government, shows the gray hairs, wrinkles, and double chin more fitting a man in his late 60s.
Many netizens suspected Li faked his personal data to advance his career. But the prefecture government said it has confirmed its authenticity. “False can’t become true, but true won’t become false, either,” Li told the Xinhua Agency. “As a cadre at grassroots level, I don’t fear hard work or little rest. I only fear not to be understood.”
There was a rash of marathons this weekend, and lots of the usual inspiring tales, no doubt, but the one that got people talking the most was probably an incident in Suzhou. Toward the end of the run, lead runner He Yinli was interrupted by not one, but two idiots rushing out from the crowd in order to press a Chinese flag into her hands. Unfortunately, this burst of patriotic zeal did He no favors, as she first fumbled the flag, then the race, thus losing the 2018 Suzhou Taihu marathon to an African competitor in the crucial final stretch.
Hangzhou denies “dog massacre”
Hideous images and video of chennguan drowning and beating various dogs over the weekend, following a crackdown on unlicensed street canines, sparked fury on Weibo (update: many videos have since been deleted). There was widespread rage against the G20 city for interpreting new regulations—fining dog owners up to 1,000 RMB (144 USD) if they don’t keep licensed pets on leases, and, absurdly, forbidding dog-walking outside the hours of 7pm to 7am—as an excuse for an alleged bloodbath. Hangzhou officials have denied all the reports, however.
Hot dog-gobbling billionaire questioned
China’s rigid educational system and mischievous meme culture occasionally cross over, as reported this weekend: a Beijing middle-school teacher used a meme related to billionaire heir Wang Sicong—son of the founder of Dalian Wanda Group, China’s largest real estate development company— in a physics exam paper.
A photo of the celebrity fuerdai gobbling a hot dog went viral two weeks ago, before finding new life as a study stimulus; according to one test-taker, this teacher is known for writing quirky questions as a way of enhancing his students’ learning experience.