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Haunted livestreaming, relic’s return, facial recognition, and underwater thieves—it’s 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, police bust underwater thieves, a Qing sculpture returns home, money is ‘magically’ switched, and Alibaba investigates haunted houses:

Magic money 

A man staying in a Beijing hotel during a business trip found that part of the cash he had brought along with him had been switched for fake notes issued by “China Magic Bank,” according to words printed on the bill. Police identified hotel staff member Mr. Wang as the main suspect, having found the same kind of “magic money,” meant for use in magic tricks, in his living quarters.

Live haunting

Ali Auction, Alibaba’s online auction platform, is recruiting a test resident to livestream their experience living in a “haunted apartment” for 24 hours. The candidate should be a “firm atheist and believe in science,” and will be paid 1 RMB per minute of streaming.

Neglection of duty?

A video of a 17-year-old girl’s suicide by drowning in Anqing, Anhui province, went viral after it showed police officers apparently hesitant to enter the water and save the victim. According to Wuhan-based portal Jiupai News, neither the deputy head of the county’s police station nor any of his three auxiliary officers knew how to swim. The local public security bureau has suspended the four officers and launched an investigation as to whether they responded adequately while trying to rescue the girl.

Underwater thieves

Maritime police in Fujian province busted a gang who had illegally salvaged nearly 700 Ming dynasty (1368 — 1644) artifacts from shipwrecks off the coast. Much of the haul, which was mostly ceramic bowls, had been sold in Jiangxi province for around 400 RMB apiece.

Relic returns

A famous bronze sculpture of a horse’s head, one of 12 Chinese zodiac statues looted from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace (or Yuanmingyuan) by Anglo-French forces in the Second Opium War in 1860, finally returned home to the site of the imperial resort of the Qing Dynasty (1616 — 1911). The late Macau business magnate and philanthropist Stanley Ho Hung-sun bought the horse’s head sculpture in 2007, and it was later donated to the National Cultural Heritage Administration in November 2019, as per Ho’s wishes.

Face value

Tianjin, Nanjing, and a few other cities have issued policies to forbid abuse of facial recognition technology and protect citizens’ personal information after a man in Jinan, Shandong province, was filmed wearing a motorcycle helmet in a property exhibition to avoid detection by cameras. The viral video brought to light the seemingly common practice of real estate companies using facial-recognition technology to categorize their clients.

Sticky relationship

After a residential committee in Changsha, Hunan province, voted to fire their property management firm, the incumbent company responded by supergluing the locks on the doors to residents’ homes in the middle of the night. Police have since detained three members of the property firm.

Glitch in the ice

A 6-meter disk of ice swirling on a river in Ulaan Xot, Inner Mongolia, awed netizens for its “supernatural craftsmanship”—perhaps pushed along by “minor demons beneath the ice,” or prophesying “dynastic downfall”? Alas, experts explained that it’s simply a rare natural phenomenon created by water currents and cold weather.

Helped by helicopter

A helicopter pilot in Anhui province returning from a training session helped a sanitary worker sweep leaves by flying close to the road and using the rotating helicopter blades to blow the foliage into a pile.

Coffee claw

A cafe in Shanghai features staff wearing fake bear claws and serving customers, unseen, through a small hole in a wall. The owner explained that the cafe is staffed by baristas with hearing impairments and other disabilities, and the facilities are designed to make their work more comfortable.

Cover image from VCG

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