Flash flood kills seven in Sichuan, exorbitantly priced designer bike shocks netizens, 932-year-old bridge burns down, Billboard launches Chinese edition—it’s Viral Week
Flash flood in Sichuan kills seven
On Saturday, a flash flood killed seven people at Longcao Valley, a popular riverside recreation spot in Pengzhou, Sichuan province. Video footage of the incident showed that, despite signs in the area warning of sudden mountain floods, dozens of people, including many families with young children, were playing in the river before a raging torrent of water washed people and belongings away. Some state media outlets criticized social media platforms for turning Longcao Valley into an “internet famous spot,” along with other dangerous locations like a traffic tunnel in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.
Hermes bicycle sells for 165,000 yuan
Netizens were shocked after a bicycle priced at 165,000 yuan (24,400 US dollars) from luxury brand Hermes quickly sold out online. The price tag sparked debate about the consumption power of wealthy Chinese buyers. Domestic consumption of luxury goods reached 470 billion yuan in 2021, accounting for about 21 percent of the global market, according to consultancy Bain & Company.
Billboard launches Chinese edition
Last Monday, Billboard magazine, the outlet behind music charts in the US, announced it would be launching in China. The publication has recruited many A-list celebrities for promotion including Jackson Wang, Higher Brothers’ Masiwei, and TFBoys’ Wang Yuan. The news was met with enthusiasm by netizens, and a related hashtag was viewed over 340 million times on Weibo. Many users expressed hope for music charts based on factors other than virality, following the explosive popularity of Douyin.
Ancient wooden bridge burns down
The over 900-year old Wan’an Bridge in southeastern Fujian province, China's longest wooden arched bridge, burned down in the evening of August 6. The bridge was constructed in the Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), and has burned and been rebuilt three times before in history. It was one of the oldest surviving bridges of its kind in China, and was selected as one of China’s submissions to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage Site in 2012. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire, and say they will rebuild the bridge.
Street vendor calls it quits after cyberbullying
Xie Yong’an, a 67-year-old street vendor famous for selling sweet beverages at affordable prices in Wuhan, has announced he will closing down his business due to malicious rumors about himself and family. Xie, also known as “Sugar-Water Grandpa,” has sold drinks from the back of his tricycle almost every evening for 17 years, increasing his prices only once in this period (from 1 yuan to 2 yuan in 2019) and offering free refills. However, he says he is no longer able to deal with rumors alleging that his preparation methods were unsanitary, and that he was forced to become a vendor due to neglect by his children, so he will be leaving Wuhan and returning to his hometown.
Attack by minors revives debate on juvenile crime
Police detained a group of teenagers after they murdered a 21-year-old man by first beating him unconscious and then burying him in Yongchang county, Gansu province, on July 29. A video of the attack began to circulate online on August 8. Reports suggest one of the attackers was angry with the victim for “following” his girlfriend. He and seven other friends later attacked the man, while a girl filmed the attack and posted it on social media. The group then took the victim’s body and buried it on a hillside. The boy and his suspected accomplices were arrested on August 1 when police found the body after the man’s mother reported him missing. The incident has revived debates over the age of criminal responsibility in China, and what constitutes adequate punishment for minors who commit heinous acts.
Online healthcare platform blocked
Internet regulators blocked several social media accounts owned by Dingxiang Yuan, a digital health platform, from posting content, citing “relevant laws and regulations.” The block, which appears to have come into effect on August 9, was placed on several of the company’s Weibo and WeChat accounts such as “Dingxiang Doctor,” “Dingxiang Mama,” and “Dingxiang Life Research.” It is as yet unclear exactly which rules the company had violated, or whether its accounts would be reinstated at a later date. At the time of the writing, the company’s website and app still function as normal.