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Viral Week Ep. 236

“Viral” game pulled, ex-prisoner evades lockdown, doctor’s name trademark, and swimmer’s career sinks—the coronavirus continues to dominate life in China

Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about.

This week, the coronavirus outbreak continues to dominate life in China as a former prisoner escapes Wuhan’s lockdown, a “viral” game is banned, and online classes cause friction. Meanwhile, Sun Yang’s career sinks and a fanfiction website falls afoul of censors:

Free to travel

A former government official surnamed Huang, who was imprisoned in Wuhan for embezzlement, was somehow able to travel to Beijing after her release February 17 despite running a fever and testing positive for Covid-19 after her arrival. Authorities are investigating how Ms. Huang managed to leave the locked down Hubei city and evade all road checks on the way.

Rogue traders

A company in Changsha was forced to apologize after they had applied for trademarks on the name of Li Wenliang, the doctor who tried to spread the word of the virus outbreak in Wuhan in late December and later died from the coronavirus.

Fanfic foul

Fans of Chinese actor Xiao Zhan reported a piece of fanfiction, in which Xiao appears as a cross-dressing prostitute, to cyber authorities, leading to award-winning fanfic website The Archive of Our Own (AO3) to be blocked in China. Angry netizens are calling for boycotts to brands that Xiao endorses (including Luckin Coffee and Olay), and the celebrity’s managers have since apologized.

Game over

Plague Inc., a mobile game in which players attempt to infect as many people as possible with a virus, was removed from app stores in China last week for “illegal content,” according to the Cyber Administration of China. The game had surged in popularity since the coronavirus outbreak and occupied top spots on a number of app charts since late January.

Swimmer sunk

On Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)  slapped an eight-year ban on China’s controversial swimming star Sun Yang, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, for destroying his sample collection containers during a drugs test in September 2018. Sun has said he will appeal the decision.

Poisonous photo-op

Twenty-two people in Xiangyao village, Hubei province, are in emergency treatment for poison after drinking chlorine dioxide water sterilization tablets, allegedly distributed by mistake by village cadres who forced the villagers to drink in front of cameras. Authorities are investigating how the incident happened.

Desperate to learn

A junior high school student in Henan is in stable condition after attempting suicide by overdosing on medicine on Saturday, after she missed a class streamed online (her school was shut in response to the coronavirus outbreak). Allegedly, her family could only afford one smartphone, and had given it to her sister to access her own online class.

Fresh cuts

Since many hair salons remained shut down on February 24’s “Dragon Head Raising Festival” (龙抬头), a traditional day for getting haircuts, many in China attempted DIY cuts and shared the results online.

Dreams of college

A makeshift hospital in Wuhan has set aside a warehouse where a young coronavirus patient can study for her college entrance exams. With schools shut down across the country, many in China are concerned whether final-year high school students can still take the high-stakes exam as planned in June.

Name change required?

In a letter to Qingdao mayor, a resident suggested changing the “inauspicious” name of city’s Xinguan (新冠) Viaduct, which resembles the Chinese name for Covid-19 (新冠状病毒), to “Wuhan” to show solidarity in the fight against the virus (the authorities decided against it on practical grounds).

Cover Image from VCG


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