Netizens debate Russia-Ukraine conflict, ByteDance employee dies after overtime work, Covid-19 outbreak connected to Wuhan, Beijing to fund fertility treatments—it’s Viral Week
Netizens react to Ukraine conflict
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine exploded on Chinese social media, with related hashtags gaining millions of views in hours on Weibo. Netizens following the conflict even coined the new phrase 乌心工作 (wū xīn gōngzuò, “working while thinking about Ukraine,” a play on a similar-sounding term meaning “can’t focus on work”), for people who’ve shirked their office duties by reading articles on and expressing for the country. Some have expressed sympathy for the people of Ukraine, while footage of a student studying in Kyiv cheering up Ukrainian children in a bomb shelter went viral.
Meanwhile, Weibo announced it had removed 542 sexist posts which expressed hope for a protracted war which would send “beautiful” Ukrainian female refugees fleeing to China. One Chinese national in Ukraine posted a video saying Chinese students were afraid to take shelter in the Kyiv subway system as they are being confronted by Ukrainians over negative comments made about the country on Chinese social media. The Chinese embassy in Ukraine initially instructed Chinese nationals in the country to place a Chinese flag in their vehicles to protect themselves, but the next day reversed its advice and told people not to reveal their nationality.
ByteDance employee dies suddenly, suspected of overworking
A 28-year-old ByteDance employee, surnamed Wu, died suddenly while working out at his office gym last Tuesday, drawing public concern that he had died from overwork. A WeChat post allegedly from Wu’s wife claimed he often worked overtime as a “content moderator” (cleaning up and censoring content on ByteDance’s platforms), and that the company lost valuable time calling in emergency services to help Wu. She also wrote that she is 14 weeks pregnant, and unable to afford a mortgage of over 20,000 yuan per month in Beijing now that her husband is deceased. ByteDance, a technology company and owner of TikTok, said the company had covered the medical costs of attempts to resuscitate Wu, and would provide his family with Wu’s pension, though it failed address Wu’s wife’s claims of overwork.
Hotpot chain Haidilao has sparked controversy after a woman claimed that their restaurants keep detailed files on customers’ dining habits and even their physical appearance. The woman uploaded a series of photos to social media platform Xiaohongshu, which she claimed show the chain’s filing system for customers. Many commenters argued the database was an invasion of privacy, while others said there is nothing wrong with collecting customer profiles as long as the information is kept secure. A representative of Haidilao said that restaurant managers created customer profiles in order to provide them with better service. The spokesman also claimed that notes on customers’ physical appearance are now prohibited.
Beijing adds fertility treatments to insurance scheme
Beijing will become the first city in China to add fertility treatments to its public health insurance scheme. The cost of 16 types of assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, will be partially covered at major public hospitals as of March 26. While China has relaxed its family planning policies and now encourages couples to give birth to three children, fertility rates remain below the government’s expectations, and infertility is on the rise, according to research by the Peking University No. 3 Hospital. The cost of the procedures and strict ART licensing regulations on hospitals prevent many couples from seeking fertility treatment in China.
Company training in Wuhan linked to new Covid-19 outbreak
A Covid-19 outbreak that has spread to four provincial-level regions has been linked to training conference for employees of multi-level marketing firm NuSkin in Wuhan on February 18. The company claims the event was organized by employees without its authorization. Both Wuhan and Beijing (which has seen seven cases so far linked to the Wuhan conference) have called for stricter controls on offline events and company gatherings.
A father’s support for his four-year-old daughter’s decision to become a cleaner has been praised by netizen as “textbook parenting.” In a recent video, the man, who was feeding his nine-month-old younger daughter, paused for a second when his elder daughter told him that she wanted to be a cleaner when she grew up. Eventually, the man replied: “A cleaner works hard. So from now on, you should form a habit of working hard.”
McDonald's China launched a limited-time-only cilantro flavored dessert, which quickly sold out. Some netizens were pleasantly surprised with the cilantro sundae, calling it minty and fresh, while others were horrified by the idea.