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 subject of a famous photograph is found after 11 years, a journalist tells of domestic abuse, bad poetry gets slammed, and Covid is found on cherries:
The face of chunyun
Bamu Yubumu, an Yi woman who was the subject of an award-winning photo taken at Nanchang Railway Station in 2010, was finally located by the photographer 11 years later at her home in Liangshan, Sichuan province. The photo, taken by Xinhua journalist Zhou Ke, showed Bamu Yubumu laden with heavy bags and carrying an infant as she determinedly trudged toward the station, and has become the face of the annual “Spring Festival migration” for symbolizing the hard work of China’s migrant workers and their love of home.
A total of 14 members of Renren Yingshi, an unofficial video hosting website known for its subtitling, were arrested in Shanghai for copyright infringement. The news of the crackdown sparked an outpouring of grief on Weibo, with many expressing their gratitude for the group providing quality subtitles for movies and TV shows otherwise unavailable in Chinese. Renren has over 8 million members who subscribe to its services online, but many of the works it offered were obtained without a license from pirated video platforms.
Jia Qianqian, daughter of famous author Jia Pingwa, was harshly criticized for her poetry by critic Tang Xiaolin from Literature Free Talk magazine for “taking what’s boring as interesting, and breaking rubbish into short lines,” igniting discussion over her legitimacy as a poet. Tang cited one verse from a poem titled “Langlang,” in which Jia makes numerous references to excrement, as being obscene and of particularly poor quality.
Former journalist Ma Jinyu wrote in stark detail of physical abuse suffered by her and her three children at the hands of her husband during their seven-year marriage. She called herself “Another Lhamo” in reference to the Tibetan livestreamer who died of burns after being set on fire by her ex-husband last October, adding fuel to the national conversation around domestic violence.
Lines in the sand
Zhang Qingheng, a railway worker in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, impressed netizens with his sand art depicting unique ways people are celebrating Spring Festival this year, as they are discouraged from traveling to visit their families. Zhang’s art shows families making video calls, students taking online classes, and migrant workers receiving dumplings at work after they chose to stay in the cities.
Producers of the ongoing TV series Vacation of Love apologized to a Weibo user for using her parents’ wedding photo as a prop in one episode, stating it was the photo of the lead character’s deceased parents. The user said the producers did not contact her to apologize or provide compensation as promised.
Cherries with Covid
Imported cherries in several provinces, including Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Hebei, have tested positive for Covid-19, prompting panic from consumers who’ve bought them. Health experts state that the risk of infection from the imported fruits is low, though local governments have warned citizens to cut down on their consumption of cold-chain supplied goods from abroad.
Viral footage emerged of a wild Siberian tiger spotted in Yanbian, Jilin province, preying on a pet dog. According to local authorities, the big cat wandered across the border for a snack and returned safely to Russia.
Charitable bragging rights
Chinese tech companies have been boasting about the total sum of hongbao (“red packets” containing cash gifts given during the new year) they would distribute to users during the Spring Festival, posting the numbers on their app logos. Douyin claimed it would give away 2 billion RMB, Baidu 2.2 billion, and Pinduoduo 2.8 billion. But LeTV took a different approach by declaring that the company actually owes more than all of them put together—the company proudly displayed that they are in 12.2 billion RMB of debt.
Cover image from VCG