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Viral Week: Gas Explosion Kills Four and Other Trending News

Famous musician detained for soliciting prostitute, four dead in Shenyang gas explosion, “love psychology” lecture oversubscribed, Beijing Covid-19 outbreak—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.

Shenyang gas explosion kills four and injures over 40

On the morning of October 21, a gas explosion at a barbecue restaurant ripped through a popular dining district in Shenyang, Liaoning province, killing four and injuring over 40 others. The cause of the deadly blast is still under investigation, while it also emerged that two gas explosions have previously occurred on the same street, in 2013 and 2014, and the area’s gas supplier has been involved with numerous gas leaks in the past.

Famous musician Li Yundi detained for soliciting prostitute

Li Yundi, China’s so-called “Prince of Piano,” was detained by Beijing authorities on October 21 for soliciting a prostitute. The news caused dismay among netizens, as Li is a household name in China, widely respected for being the youngest pianist (and the first Chinese) to win the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2000. The Chinese Musicians’ Association has said it would strip Li of his membership, and given previous campaigns against celebrities who act immorally or illegally, it is unlikely he will be able to make public appearances again.

Beijing Covid-19 outbreak locks down some housing complexes

A new Covid-19 outbreak in Beijing has seen over 20 infections in the city. Fengtai, Changping, and Haidian districts have all reported cases, with some residential housing complexes closed off to stop the spread. Residents have been urged not to travel into or out of the city to avoid spreading the virus, and travelers entering the city need a negative nucleic acid test obtained within 48 hours of arrival.

Man arrested for sixth time for traveling across provinces to steal chickens

Police arrested a man, from Zhejiang province, for riding his motorcycle to Guangde, in neighboring Anhui province, to steal chickens. Images from his court case showed the judges struggling to keep straight faces after they discovered this was the sixth time the man had been detained for the same crime, while the incident had netizens wondering just how tasty Anhui chicken is. Judges sentenced the man to eight months in jail and fined him 2,000 RMB.

Man leaves car to provoke tigers at Beijing wildlife park

On October 23, a 56-year old man surnamed Jiang was filmed jumping out of his car in the tiger enclosure of the Beijing Wildlife Park. Footage shows Jiang squatting dangerously close to a group of 11 white tigers, and gesticulating with his arms. Luckily the tigers showed little interest in Jiang, who has since been detained by police.

“Love Psychology” university course massively over-subscribed

"The Psychology of Love,” lecture at Wuhan University, went viral last week with videos showed huge crowds of students queuing to get in to listen to the class. Even the professor, Yu Feng, admitted he was surprised by students’ enthusiasm and what he suggested was their “longing for love and eagerness for psychological knowledge.”

Social media platform slammed for overhyping tourist sites

Netizens criticized e-commerce and social media platform Xiaohongshu, or “Little Red Book,” for sharing “over-beautified” and misleading photos of scenic spots that left many tourists disappointed with their real-life experience. The platform apologized and promised to try to provide users with more diversified and complete information, and flag potentially misleading posts.

Man in vegetative state required to attend disability evaluation in person

Netizens were outraged after social welfare regulations required a woman in Shanghai had to bring her brain-dead husband to an in-person evaluation at a designated hospital in the city to prove he is truly in a vegetative state, so that they can receive state benefits to cover some of his medical bills.

Three days after the story broke on October 20, the Shanghai Disabled Persons’ Federation and Municipal Health Commission announced that the city would introduce changes to its disability evaluation services to remove obstacles for those with severe mobility challenges, with measures including collaborating with communities to provide in-home evaluations. 

Dylan Sprouse’s new film flops in China

New film The Curse of Turandot (《图兰朵》), based on the the Italian opera Turandot and starring American actor Dylan Sprouse as the male lead, has been slammed by Chinese viewers, achieving a score of just 3.7 out of 10 on review site Douban. Netizens have criticized the film for failing miserably to combine Western and Chinese elements, and consider the it another failed attempt by Hollywood to pander to Chinese tastes.

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