China’s US-Born athletes polarize netizens, Bing Dwen Dwen fever continues, Bilibili is accused of working staff to death, boy spends 9,800 yuan on Ultraman cards—it’s Viral Week
China’s US-born Olympic athletes Zhu Yi and Gu Ailing gained attention for dramatically different competition results, soliciting contrasting reactions from netizens. California-born figure skater Zhu Yi received harsh criticism and was accused of stealing the chance to compete from a Chinese-born athlete after she fell during her routine as part of the women’s team event last Sunday and twice more during her free skate event a day later. In comparison, freestyle skier Gu Ailing has received widespread adoration. Gu won the Women’s Big Air competition gold, impressing netizens with her fluent Mandarin, educational prowess, and good looks. After Gu’s victory, six out of the top 10 Weibo trending topics were about her, with hashtags including “Gu Ailing challenges the world’s most difficult jump” and “Celebrate history! Gu Ailing wins China's third gold.”
Bing Dwen Dwen, the adorable panda mascot of Beijing’s Winter Olympics, continues to make headlines after going viral across the country. Videos of netizens turning the mascot into food—from glutinous rice balls to ice-cream—have been doing the rounds on China's short video platforms...although netizens also ridiculed some ugly attempts. Meanwhile, netizens were angered on February 8 when Bing Dwen Dwen was given a voice, interviewing freestyle skier Yang Shuorui on a TV program. Netizens expressed disappointment that the voice didn’t fit Bing Dwen Dwen’s cutesy appearance—sounding remarkably like a muffled middle-aged man. The official account of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Douyin was quick to point out that the voice was unauthorized.
Family planning organization plans to “interfere” in abortions
As part of its work plan for 2022, China’s Family Planning Association announced it will increase “interference” in abortions among unmarried people, as well as reduce the incidence of unplanned pregnancy and abortion among youths. While the association (an organization under the Communist Party’s leadership, not to be confused with the National Family Planning Commission under the State Council) has not clarified what it means by “interference,” its plan also outlines improving better reproductive health and sex education to youths, as well as more access to birth control. These plans are unveiled as China sees record-low birth rates, and follow guidelines released by the State Council to reduce abortions for non-medical reasons in September of 2021.
Second alleged victim of human trafficking found in same village as earlier case
The social media user who sparked netizen outrage over the Lunar New Year, when he posted a video of a mother of eight shackled to a shed wall in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, has posted another from the same village of a woman in similar conditions. The video, posted to Douyin but since deleted, shows a woman wrapped in a blanket on the floor. She cannot communicate, but the vlogger (going by the username Xuzhou Brother Yixiu) asserted she has been lying there for 20 years. Villagers who spoke to Caixin Global said her husband would often beat her in the early years of their marriage, and one claimed her husband had purchased her for 1,000 yuan. Local police are investigating the issue on suspicion of human trafficking.
A sudden rise in Covid-19 cases in Baise city, Guangxi, during the Lunar New Year holiday prompted a lockdown in the city of 3.6 million near the border with Vietnam. Local authorities in five sub-districts in the city turned traffic lights red to reinforce the city’s stay-at-home order, with exceptions only for essential travel related to medical care, deliveries, and Covid-19 response.
Sudden death of Bilibili staff member prompts debate on overtime
Bilibili, China’s largest online video platform, came under public scrutiny after a Weibo user claimed that one of their employees died after working long overtime shifts during the Lunar New Year holiday, when most workers enjoyed seven days of rest. The company initially released an internal memo asserting that overwork had nothing to do with the 25-year-old employee’s death, but following a backlash online it has since promised to hire more staff to spread workload and pay more attention to worker’s mental health.
A 10-year-old boy in Henan porvince spent 9,800 yuan of his parents’ money buying Ultraman cards after being persuaded by a shop owner, the boy claimed. The boy told media he originally planned to buy snacks, but the shopkeeper convinced him the cards would be a better investment, and that he could sell them later on. The boys’ parents had prepared the cash to give to relatives during the Lunar New Year holiday. The shop owner denied the allegation when confronted by a reporter and the boy’s mother. Local authorities are investigating the case.
A woman surnamed Yu, fed up with her husband’s nagging comment about her driving, posted a video of her husband in the passenger seat of her car with his mouth and hands wrapped in tape, explaining she had used the tape to stop his comments and prevent him from pulling the steering while she drives. Yu, from Xiangyang city, Hubei province, said her husband had consented to the taping after agreeing his actions were unreasonable.