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, a worker bids an emotional farewell, a reenactor celebrates Dragon Boat Festival, China drafts a new criminal code, a so-called “qigong fast” turns deadly, and a rare name leads to health complications:
Flood of devastation
Nearly a month of heavy downpours in southern China have affected over 12 million people in 26 provinces, with 81 dead or missing, and 730,000 relocated due to flooding.
Qu Yuan returns
For the last four years, a Sichuan man surnamed Jia has been celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival in his own way: by cosplaying as the third-century BCE politician Qu Yuan, whose tragic suicide is commemorated by the holiday. Dressed in traditional Chinese costume, Mr. Jia throws himself into the river while shouting Qu’s well-known quote, “There are no true men in the state: no one to understand me. Why should I cleave to the city of my birth?”
A farewell message left at the Dongguan Library by a migrant worker with a primary school education touched the hearts of netizens around China. “I have lived in Dongguan for 17 years, and have been coming to the library for 12,” wrote 54-year-old Wu Chungui from Hubei province, explaining he had to leave the Guangdong city due to declining job opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Books make one wiser. It is the only thing in the world causes no harm.” After his message went viral, Wu was reportedly offered a new job in Dongguan, and has since gone to renew his library card.
A 26-year-old man died at a rehabilitation centre in Heilongjiang province after following advice from a so-called qigong “master” to fast for 54 days in order to treat his mental illness.
Following last week‘s admissions scandal, in which 242 people were discovered to have entered university in Shandong under false identities, another woman in the province revealed that she may have been defrauded two years in a row—in 1997, when the daughter of her homeroom teacher entered a Beijing university using her admissions offer, and in 1998, when she was admitted to an unaccredited college she had not signed up for, under circumstances that are still unclear.
A draft of China’s revised penal code proposes criminalizing throwing objects from tall buildings and snatching the steering wheel from public bus drivers, both of which actions have led to tragic deaths in the past. Capturing and selling endangered animals for food and “insulting and slandering heroes” will also become crimes, according to the draft.
Last week, fans of Guangxi’s famous luosifen (“snail rice-flour noodles”) were panicked to discover the spiral-shell snail, or luosi (螺蛳), on the draft of the government’s new List of Key State Protected Wildlife, prompting experts to explain that the luosi raised for food is not the same as the protected species, and that new wildlife protection laws will not affect their enjoyment of the pungent dish.
Geng Haisheng, a 52-year-old construction worker in Hebei province, became an internet sensation for posting videos of himself singing with a “guitar” that he made out of recycled construction materials, which gives off sparks when strummed. “I’ve never studied music, and I don’t know how to play a real guitar,” he told Litchi News, “We’re just trying to make people laugh, and not feel so tired after work.”
In the name of health
A Beijing resident surnamed Wang has been barred from public buildings for the past two weeks because his name contains a rare character that cannot be found in WeChat and Alipay’s HealthKit mini-app, thus preventing Wang from registering for a “health code” that many businesses and scenic areas in China require customers to display in light of Covid-19.
Error in delivery
A delivery mix-up led to embarrassment for a Chongqing man, surnamed Liao, who had intended to send some zongzi (sticky rice triangles) to his girlfriend’s parents for Dragon Boat Festival to make a good impression, but had women’s underwear delivered instead.
A 15-month-old baby locked in a car in Jiangsu was rescued by a passing sixth grader surnamed Wang, who climbed into the car after the baby’s mother smashed a small hole the driver’s side window and got his hands scratched by the broken glass. Local police thanked Wang and gifted him with stationery.
In Liaoning province, a diaper-clad 2-year-old has been dazzling online audiences with impressive hip hop moves that he learned from his dance-teacher father.
A woman in Liaoning province almost died of a brain aneurysm after she attempted to hit a high note during a family KTV gathering, and was rushed to the hospital for an emergency two-hour operation.
Cover image from CFP