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Mahjong marathon, poisonous durian, a fugitive official, and a worker poet—its Viral Week

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 mahjong marathon leads to hospital, a migrant worker inspires with poetry, salty durian proves poisonous, and a murderer avoids prison for 25 years:

Playing the long game

A 39-year-old woman from Chongqing was hospitalized after playing mahjong non-stop for nearly 40 hours. The woman, who ate just one pomegranate during the entire marathon game session, complained of numbness and tingling in her hands and had difficulty breathing.

Workers walk out

Workers at a factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu, resigned en masse after a manager was filmed throwing new employees’ work passes on the floor, forcing them to bend over and pick them up. The manager has since apologized.

Brick poet

Li Xiaogang, 35-year-old migrant worker from Shaanxi province, went viral on video streaming app Kuaishou for his recitations of Chinese poetry at construction sites, at which listeners marvel that he “sounds just like a CCTV anchor”—but instead of holding a book, he holds two bricks, and wears a traffic cone in place of a scholar’s hat.

Fruits de mer
Over 500 people in Guangxi suffered from vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms after eating durians that some villagers had fished out of the sea from an overturned cargo ship. The pungent fruits had been contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a common source of bacterial food poisoning in seafood.

Rocket science for dummies

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASA) posted a video simulating a rocket launch with six staff members acting out various parts the rocket’s take-off procedure. The comical yet accurate demonstration was lauded by netizens for promoting science in a fun way.

Scoring civilization 

A mandatory “social credit” program that calculates a a person’s “civilized score” was launched in Suzhou last week. The app evaluates users based on factors such as adherence to traffic and road regulation and participation in volunteer work. The program proved controversial online, as netizens questioned the evaluation criteria and whether such systems could lead to abuse of power by authorities.

Funerary condos

A company in Tianjin has been operating a columbarium that resembles a vast apartment complex, with the units housing urns and memorials to the dead. However, the municipal government put a stop to the practice since residential developments must be used for housing purposes, and the “apartments for the dead” were deemed a commercial activity.

Poor poster

Netizens criticized the outdated design on a poster for the new Disney movie, Mulan, which will be released in China this Friday. Weibo users complained that the composition and tone reminded them of kung fu drama posters from the 1990s.

Donut damage

A man damaged grasslands in Inner Mongolia by driving his off-road vehicle onto the fragile ecosystem, skidding, and performing donuts. Authorities fined the man and made him sow seeds on the damaged ground. According to local forestry officials, it will take years to revive the damaged grass.

Textbook judgment

A college student identified as Xixi lost a long-standing lawsuit against university textbooks that described homosexuality as a “common psychosexual disorder.” The court ruled that the textbook’s description was not a factual error, but a “difference of opinion.” However, many netizens praised Xixi’s actions, and the editor of one textbook on psychological disorders says he will pay attention to the matter in a future edition of his book.

Free man

The case of man who was convicted of murder in 1992, but never served even one day of a 15-year prison sentence, has come to public attention. Batu Menghe, a CPC member and deputy to the local People’s Congress, continued to live free until over 20 years of appeals by the victim’s mother finally got the local authorities’ attention in 2017. In 2018, Batu was resentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 RMB for the murder and a later crime of embezzlement, and authorities are investigating how he avoided punishment in 1992 and became an official.

Cover image from Wikimedia Commons


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