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, milk tea shop slammed for sexist ad, fame proves problematic for a mini Jack Ma, ancient tombs uncovered by construction in Xi’an, and a liquor expert is nominated for top research position:
City of tombs
The expansion of the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport was halted in early February after workers discovered over 4,600 ancient relics under the construction site, including 3,500 tombs that may date back to 2,000 years ago.
Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province and 13 historic dynasties, is no stranger to accidental archeological discoveries: In the same month, the construction of Line 8 of the city’s subway system unearthed 1,356 ancient tombs.
Sexist tea ad
Popular milk tea shop Chayan Yuese in Changsha, Hunan province, was criticized for a sexist ad campaign that used the word “jianlouzi,” a local dialect slang term that means “to pick up a bargain,” to describe meeting a woman in their tea shop. Closer scrutiny also revealed that the company used other problematic and sexually suggestive marketing terms on its packaging and product instructions. The tea shop apologized and vowed to make reforms.
Spirit of science
The nomination of Wang Li, chief engineer of liquor maker Kweichow Maotai Group, to become a researcher at the prestigious think tank Chinese Academy of Sciences has triggered questions over Wang’s qualifications and the selection process for the country’s top scientists. Many netizens believe Wang owed her nomination to her position in a powerful and wealthy conglomerate, rather than her academic credentials.
The price of fame?
Fan Xiaoqin, a boy from Jiangxi province known as “Little Jack Ma” because of his resemblance to the founder of Alibaba Group, is once again a topic of online discussion following videos showing the 13-year-old struggling to do the most basic math problems and seemingly ignorant of the concept of money. Fan went viral for his looks at 8 years old in 2016, and was apparently hired and taken from his village in 2017 by businessman Liu Changjiang, who promised to give him an education.
Liu and his company have now come under heavy criticism from netizens who accuse them of exploiting and then abandoning Fan. Fan has returned to his hometown, and his family claims that he can’t do basic arithmetic because he is intellectually disabled, not because he has been taken out of school.
A gynecologist with 2 million fans on Weibo highlighted the danger of date rape drugs by dosing herself with the anaesthetic sevoflurane, and posting a video that showed her losing consciousness within minutes. The experiment sparked controversy as sevoflurane is a controlled substance, and some viewers questioned the appropriateness of using it outside of a hospital environment.
The doctor has since apologized for the experiment and claims to have told the police how she had obtained drug legally. Sevoflurane had come into the news this month when a 23-year-old woman from Foshan, Guangdong province, died of an overdose after a 39-year-old man drugged and raped her.
A fire of unknown cause has burned down the historic village of Wengding in southwestern Yunnan province, referred to as the “last primitive village in China” by Chinese National Geographic magazine. The blaze destroyed over 100 of the village’s 105 distinctive thatched homes, a traditional architectural style of the Wa ethnic minority.
Box office boom
The Spring Festival box office hit 7.8 billion RMB (1.2 billion USD), the first time in Chinese history that single-day ticket sales exceeded 1 billion for five consecutive days. In the first day alone, 34 million people headed to the movies, especially as many could not return home due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
More kids on the way?
Delegates of the National People’s Congress in northeastern China proposed to lift birth control measures to curb population decline in the region, though the National Health Commission has suggested the policy “requires more research.” Under China’s current policy, most couples are permitted to have only two children, but with the population aging, some want to see this restriction ended.
Cover Image from VCG