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Viral Week Ep. 281

Hungry fare-evader, draconian schools, ancient doodles, and ears of steel—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, the government aims to stop the “feminization” of boys, schools apologize for draconian punishments, ancient doodles intrigue experts, and a woman skips train fares to get her favorite food:

Masculine mystique

A Ministry of Education document on physical education has ruffled feathers due to its sexist title, “Suggestions for Preventing the Feminization of Young Boys,” and a passage that suggests public schools can develop students’ “masculinity (阳刚之气)” by offering more gym classes. State broadcaster CCTV published a rebuttal, stating that strength and physical health should not be seen as exclusively masculine qualities.

Glutton for glutinous rice

A Shanghai woman in her 50s was arrested for evading train fares over a hundred times in just 5 months, all in order to eat tangyuan (glutinous rice balls in soup) at her favorite restaurant in Suzhou.

Compensation dispute

The accidental 2019 drowning of a 24-year-old Hangzhou woman, identified as Luoluo, is back in the spotlight after footage featuring her parents and former employer on reality show Hangzhou Mediator surfaced online. Viewers took umbrage at Luoluo’s parents demand of 410,000 RMB in compensation in order to purchase an apartment for their son, significantly more than the 60,000 RMB offered by the employer in sympathy (as Luoluo’s death had happened outside of work hours and her employer had not been held responsible). The parents’ mercenary attitude, and Luoluo’s Weibo posts that outlined a toxic family environment and two suicide attempts before her death, have sparked discussion around the lingering favoritism of males in some multi-child families in China.

Ancient learners

Netizens have been amazed by simple sketches of animals and captions like “this is a horse; this is a wolf…” on the back of a Tang dynasty (618 – 907) book on customs and rituals excavated from the Mogao Caves. Initially thought to be a child’s doodles, experts subsequently suggested these could be the book-owner’s effort to teach a child the words for animals.

No laughing matter

Netizens praised tour guide He Xiaoyan after a video showed her publicly scolding tourists who appeared to laugh during a tour of Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial. “I have just heard you laugh a few times. If you do this again, please leave,” He says in the video. The devastating earthquake claimed the lives of over 69,000 in 2008.

Strict schooling

Amid public outcry, a high school in Yuncheng, Shanxi province, apologized for expelling three students who shouted lines from Japanese animation Ultraman in their dormitory, and for encouraging other students to report their classmates for shouting. The school claimed that the announcement was simply a warning, and they hadn’t actually dismissed the students.

Similarly, several teachers from Hebi Senior High School in Henan province apologized for releasing personal information about students on WeChat who had violated school rules by, for example, sleeping, applying hand cream, and closing their eyes during the class.

Phones away

A new notice from the Ministry of Education calls for elementary and middle schools to restrict students from bringing mobile phones into the classroom, amd instead store them in a central location until school is dismissed. The MOE claims this is to “protect students’ eyesight” and “prevent addiction to internet and games.

Iron-eared man

After 30 years of practice, a man named Yang Deyun in Henan province has perfected the art of pulling a car—with a rope tied to his ear. Yang told media that he began the practice of ear-pulling cars to resolve headaches that he allegedly developed from washing his head with cold water after martial arts practice

Cover image from VCG


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