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 massive sandstorm rips across northern China, a celebrity binge eater dies, a TCM fraud is outed, and a college student gets bullied for using English:
Northern China sees sandstorm of the decade
The biggest sandstorm of the last 10 years swept across northwestern and northern China on Monday, March 15, causing visibility levels of less than 1,000 meters in parts of Beijing. Netizens have taken the opportunities to shoot creative photos and videos using the “natural” filter created by the air.
Father and son start fire with magnifying glass
A father in Shanghai inadvertently burned down 2,000 square meters of grass in an ecological park while showing his son how to start a flame with a magnifying glass. He now faces “administrative penalties” from the police.
Are all PRC citizens obligated to plant trees?
The hashtag “I never knew I owed so many trees” began trending on Weibo on Arbor Day when a netizen found an alleged policy stating that “All citizens of the PRC shall plant three to five trees each year…with reward for those who plant more and punishment for those who neglect their duty.” The statement turns out to have come from the draft of a resolution approved at the 1981 meeting of the National People’s Congress. The final version of the document states that all able-bodied citizens over the age of 11 have an obligation to plant three to five trees per year, or take part in other greening efforts, but removes the part about rewards and punishments.
Celebrity binge-eater dies
Yu Hailong, a food vlogger whose mukbang (吃播, “binge eating”) videos under the handle Paopaolong had won him over 10 million fans, died suddenly at the age of 29. Though Yu’s team official states that he died from exhaustion while filming a public service ad, many fans speculate the blogger’s long-term binge eating habits were a factor. Last year, some fans expressed concerns about Yu’s health as his weight ballooned to 160 kilograms and he appeared to be suffering from hair loss
Company offers time off for exercise
A sports company in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, is offering one day of holiday for every 20,000 points earned on the “Ant Forest,” a mobile game which encourages users to reduce their carbon footprint. The policy is to encourage employees to exercise and take low-carbon transportation. Many netizens expressed their jealousy and hoped they too could exercise for more days off work.
Traditional medicine fraud exposed
Zhang Wengrong, a physician of traditional Chinese medicine, was caught using exactly the same lines on multiple different TV shows that sold medicines for a wide variety of illnesses. Zhang labeled himself a specialist in each disease, and claimed that each medicine came from a secret recipe handed down in his family. Zhang has now been fired from his hospital where he worked.
Bilingual sign blasted for “foreign worship”
After he found an iPad on campus and posted a bilingual lost-and-found sign in English and Chinese, a college student in Chengdu was bullied online and accused of “worshiping foreign culture” and being an “easy girl” by netizens (who assumed he was female). The student replied that he only used both languages because he suspected the owner might be an overseas student, since the iPad language was set to English.
Depressed worker saved from burying himself alive
A 27-year old man in Hangzhou holding a shovel was rescued in a cemetery by police, after a taxi driver called to report he was threatening to bury himself alive. When questioned by police, the man said he had run away from home and had worked in the city for three years, but felt like no one cared about him, and that he hadn’t been able to achieve anything. He was later tearfully reunited with his parents, who rushed to the city when informed by police.
Cover Image from VCG