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Viral Week: H&M boycott and other viral news

H&M boycotted, alpaca with a taste for spice, long lost twins find each other via Douyin

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, boycotts of Western brands over Xinjiang cotton, long-lost twins find each other on short-video app, an alpaca with a taste for spice goes viral, and famous names marry (but not really):

H&M in hot water over Xinjiang cotton comments

Chinese netizens were infuriated by Swedish brand H&M’s statement that they had stopped purchasing cotton from companies in Xinjiang after reports from The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a Swedish NGO, alleged forced labor and other infringements of human rights in the region. Many consumers called for boycotts of H&M and other brands which had expressed concern over conditions in Xinjiang, such as Nike, Adidas, and New Balance. Celebrities also announced they would terminate contracts with those brands, and some Chinese brands withdrew from BCI.

Boy gets his own bus stop

After 7-year-old Xiao Qian's grandmother fell ill, a local bus company in Changde, Hunan province, set up a temporary bus stop in front of the orphaned boy's home so he wouldn't have to walk alone along a busy road to catch the bus to school.

Spice-eating alpaca in Chongqing

A pet alpaca in Chongqing recently fell in love with eating chili powder. Its owner, Ms. Yu, says the animal also enjoys eating onions, garlic, and red peppers. “It eats wasabi directly, and I didn't notice any changes in its facial expression,” said the owner. “It is very ‘Chongqing,’” Yu continued, referring to Chongqing locals' reputation for consuming spicy cuisine.

Long-lost twins find each other on short-video app

Identical twin sisters who were adopted by two different families at birth were reunited after one twin found the other's account on short-video app Douyin (TikTok). Several people have since come forward claiming to be the sisters' birth parents.

Single mother finally obtains government subsidy

A single mother in Shanghai finally won a four-year legal battle against local authorities for denying her maternity insurance due to being unmarried. Ms. Zhang sued her district government and the Shanghai Social Security Management Center after her son's birth in 2017, when her insurance application was denied by the authorities for "not meeting the requirements of the Family Planning Policy," and said she also ran into problems registering her son for a residence permit (hukou), though a marriage certificate was no longer required for a child's hukou application as of 2015. In December 2020, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau issued a notice stating the the Family Planning Policy should no longer be used to determine eligibility for maternity insurance, and Ms. Zhang received her first insurance payment in March of this year.

Car theft mix up

A Mr. Liu and a Mr. Guo in Wenling, Zhejiang province, reported to the police that Liu's car had been stolen. However, it later emerged that Liu had arranged the "theft" because Guo had borrowed his car for almost a year without returning it, and Liu was too embarrassed to ask for its return.

E-cigarettes under the spotlight

A paper from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology proposed greater regulations on e-cigarettes, citing long-term health damage, air pollution, and nicotine addiction resulting from their use. Following the news, stocks in Wuxin Technology (the leader in the vaping industry) plummeted by 48 percent.  

Famous names marry

Weibo was stirred by news of two newlywed teachers from Hebei province named Liu Bei and Guan Yu—the same names as the two sworn brothers who fight together in the classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. They were congratulated by other netizens who shared names with characters from the novel, and many of them gathered for dinner together. But three days later the groom issued a statement saying these weren't the real names of himself and his spouse—it had all been a joke.  

Cover image from VCG

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