Landmark Mars landing, tornadoes kill 12, plucky dog takes on brown bear, fruit seller accused of peddling overly sweet watermelons—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 talking about.
This week, a school suicide in Chengdu raises questions about a possible cover up, China's first ever landing on Mars, tornadoes rip through Suzhou and Wuhan, and a Tibetan dog takes on a brown bear:
The public has been demanding more transparency regarding the death of a 16-year-old student who fell from a building at Chengdu's No. 49 High School on May 9. The student's mother wrote a post on microblogging platform Weibo disputing the school's account of the incident, alleging she wasn't informed of his death until two hours later. Authorities have determined the boy committed suicide and the school has refuted rumors he was pushed to his death by bullies or one of his teachers.
Two separate tornadoes struck Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and Wuhan, Hubei province, on May 14. Four were killed and 149 injured in Suzhou. In Wuhan the damage was more severe, with eight killed, 230 injured, and over 300 homes damaged. As southern China has already entered its flood season, severe weather patterns may continue and meteorologists predict heavy rainfall in the future.
The China National Space Administration's rover "Zhu Rong"—named after an ancient fire god in Chinese mythology—successfully landed on Mars on Saturday, making China the third country to make the landing. The rover is part of Tianwen-1, the name given to the rover, orbiter, and lander forming China's first independent interplanetary expedition, which launched in July 2020 and entered Mars's orbit in February 2021.
A brown bear wandered into a military camp in Tibet in broad daylight, forcing soldiers stationed there to stay indoors. But the bear later met its match when the camp's Tibetan mastiff, named "Xiao Hei (Little Black)," drove it away.
A Shanghai college student rode public buses from Shanghai to Beijing, a journey which cost him 381 RMB and took six days to complete. The student documented the different cultures he experienced on his journey, and highlighted how difficult it is to get around by public transit in small towns and rural areas.
A woman in Shanghai called the police on a fruit seller because she was convinced the seller's watermelons were unnaturally sweet, and suspected artificial sweeteners had been added. The shopkeeper explained the sweet taste was actually the result of hot weather combined with heavy rain.
A video of six teenagers in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, somehow all riding on one electric motorbike attracted attention and concern online. Later, the local police, education bureau, and the students' school gave the teens a ticking off.
Special 'celeb watching' sites at airport
Changsha Huanghua International Airport has set up “fan waiting areas,” where celebrity-obsessed fans can pay to have an intimate "sweet encounter" with their idol. Fees start at 2,000 RMB, with fans then either waiting in a special lounge at 3,000 RMB for four hours or standing zones at 200 RMB for two hours. Some netizens hope the high cost will deter many of the huge numbers of fans who have swarmed airports and disrupted flights in order to catch a glimpse of their idol. Others believe this may only encourage star chasing and make fans waste their savings.
Four people and a baby suffered severe burns after an electric scooter battery exploded and caught fire in an elevator in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The bike company (Zhejiang Yongkang Lingfan Industry and Trade Co., Ltd.) is under investigation by police. According to the firm's legal representative, the company assembled some 100 bikes using batteries bought from Shenzhen, before going bust in 2019 due to poor sales. Chinese housing compounds forbid electric bikes to be taken up into apartment buildings, but these regulations are often flouted by owners keen to charge their bikes more conveniently.
Cover image from VCG