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17-Year-Old High School Student in Guangdong ‘Marries’ a 14-Year-Old Girl

Their family says they did not know the marriage was not legal.

Manya Koetse

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The Guangdong wedding of a 17-year-old high school student and a 14-year-old junior high school student went trending on Chinese social media on Monday. On Weibo alone, the topic received over 470 million views on November 30.

The controversial wedding took place in the town of Guiyu (贵屿镇) on November 28. A short video of the couple having a ‘wedding reception’ dinner together has spread on various social media channels.

In light of the commotion over the young married couple, Shantou’s Chaoyang district, in which Guiyu is located, publicly responded to the issue. According to official sources cited in the media, the parents of the children have a “weak understanding of the legal system.” Both sides agreed to the marriage, but did not officially apply for marriage registration. The marriage ceremony was done according to local rural customs.

China globally is among the countries with the highest minimum age for marriage: 22 for men and 20 for women. Recent proposals to lower the marriage age in China have always triggered controversy on social media (here, here).

By now, local authorities have intervened and ordered the young ‘bride’ to return to her own family, stating that her mother and father must fulfill their parental duties. They also advised the children to go back to school.

On Weibo, many people denounce the children’s parents and say that having a “weak notion of the law” is not a sufficient explanation in this case, saying it is a violation of the law.

Others expressed concern that such marriages still occur in present-day China. “Your mind and body have not even been fully developed yet at the age of 14, how can they let her marry?” “They’re still kids!”

According to the latest reports, family members of the ‘newlyweds’ spoke to reporters, saying the boy and the girl, who is from a neighboring village, had met online and wanted to get married themselves. They had dropped out of school before their wedding.

The boy’s family speaking to Pear Video reporters.

The grandfather and grandmother on the boy’s side helped with the wedding preparations. In a recorded interview, the boy’s grandmother tearfully says: “We didn’t know it was against the law. We’re both old, and we didn’t know.”

A tearful grandmother states she did not know the underage marriage was against the law.

The family also declares that the girl has since been sent back to her parents and will continue to go to school.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Viral Bilibili Video Featuring Rural Carpenter: Disabled & Determined ‘Uncle’ Becomes Chinese Internet Sensation

Yige Caixiang’s touching portrait of his disabled Uncle shows that it’s not about the cards you’re dealt but about how you play them.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese vlogger Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想) posted a short film on Bilibili about his disabled uncle living in a poor rural area in China. This portrait of his resilient and resourceful ‘Uncle’ has touched the hearts of many netizens, and went viral overnight.

A video that was posted on the Chinese video platform Bilibili on Monday, July 25, has gone viral on social media for the inspiring story it tells about a resilient villager who became disabled as a teenager. The video was uploaded by vlogger ‘Yige Caixiang’ (@衣戈猜想) and received over ten million views in a day, becoming the number one video on the Bilibili platform.

“This is my uncle,” the vlogger can be heard saying at the start of the 11:30-minute video, titled “How Uncle Cured My Mental Friction after Being Back in the Village for Three Days” (回村三天,二舅治好了我的精神内耗), introducing his old uncle and grandma standing in front of their home “built at a time when the U.S. didn’t even exist yet.”

While showing footage of family and village life, Yige Caixiang tells about his uncle through a voice-over, recording his own trip to his family’s village by detailing the life of his mother’s brother.

His uncle used to be the brightest kid in school, he tells, always getting top grades. One day, as a teenager, he got sick with a high fever. A doctor in a neighboring village ‘treated’ Uncle with various injections in his backside, after which Uncle could no longer use his leg and ended up being permanently disabled. Feeling depressed and hopeless, he did not return to school and spent weeks lying in bed. The village teachers were unable to convince him to come back to class.

After three years, Uncle stepped outside of the home courtyard for the first time with his crutches. He was inspired to become a carpenter after seeing one at work in the family courtyard, and so he also started doing the same work, and was able to make a living by going around and doing carpentry jobs for villagers. Never formally diagnosed, he was unable to get a disability certificate.

Wanting to visit Tiananmen Square’s Mao memorial hall, Uncle traveled to Beijing one time and ended up staying with a cousin who worked in the military, doing carpentry work for the soldiers, with whom he soon became friends. A military chief even rubbed his back in the public bath house (“people in Beijing are good at rubbing backs,” he’d later say).

But Uncle eventually returned to his village, and was able to attend his sisters’ wedding send-offs and gave them complete furniture sets personally made by him – a rare possession to have for a young rural bride in the 1980s.

Uncle made complete furniture sets.

Besides taking care of his sisters, Uncle also took care of an abandoned village girl named Ning Ning, whom he adopted. By the time she got married, he was able to help the young couple with the down-payment for their new family home, for which he invested half of his life savings.

 
“It is only when they are near the end of their lives that people come to realize that the biggest regret in life is always regretting the past.”
 

When Uncle was in his thirties, he became acquainted with a married lady from a nearby village. Although she had a husband and two daughters, she spent a lot of time with Uncle and even cooked and cleaned for him. Treating her as if she was his own wife, he handed over his weekly pay to her and was happy to have a bowl of rice and a warm house waiting for him after a hard day of work.

But as time went on, she never divorced her husband and other family members started seeing her as an intruder who was just out for his money to support her own family. The young Ning Ning even called her an “old fox.”

The ending of this peculiar love story remains somewhat of a mystery up to this day, Yige Caixiang says. The woman and her husband passed away in a shed due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Uncle never spoke of it again and also never married another woman.

As the decades passed, Uncle took care of his aging mother while still doing carpentry work, often taking him with her around the area. Years before, he once encountered the doctor who tried to ‘cure’ him. If this had happened now, the doctor had said, I would’ve been sued and lost lots of money. But that never would have happened at that time, and it never happened later either.

Grandmother, at 88, is now struggling with her health and does not have the energy to go on living anymore. “In aging and sickness we find a necessary exercise between life and death,” the vlogger reflects (“老病是生死之间的必要演习”), suggesting that the pain of growing old also makes it easier to be at peace when having to part with life.

By now, taking care of his old mother has become a full-time job for Uncle, who cooks for her and washes her face in the morning and bathes her feet at night. Besides that, he is also more than just a carpenter; he is the village handyman, repairing electronic devices, door locks, radios, stoves, and even fixing broken toys of the neighborhood children. When it is necessary, he can be an acupuncturist and a painter, too.

Whenever there is a problem, Uncle will find a way to solve it. There’s just three things he can’t repair, Yige Caixang says: smartphones, cars, and computers – because Uncle never owned any. Although the villagers sometimes jokingly call Uncle “crooked” because of his leg and crutches, they all know how much they care for him and how much the entire village depends on him.

In the final part of the 11-minute video, Yige Caixiang reflects on what life might have looked like for his Uncle if he had not received those injections in the 1970s. He probably would have taken the national exams, would have gone to study at university, and maybe would have become an engineer with a good income and secure financial future. But Uncle does not want to think like that. Refusing to look back, he is happy with his life in the village.

It is only when they are near the end of their lives that people come to realize that the biggest regret in life is always regretting the past, Yige Caixiang says. The main thing that matters in life is not the cards you were dealt, but how you play them. Uncle was dealt a bad card, but played it beautifully through his continuous self-improvement and perseverance.

In an old notebook underneath Uncle’s bed, a line of text scribbled on the first page shows a Mao Zedong quote: “Be determined, fear no sacrifice, and surmount every difficulty to win victory” (“下定决心,不怕牺牲,排除万难,去争取胜利”).

 
“Let Uncle quietly live together with grandma in the small mountain village – that is the most beautiful ending this story could have.”
 

A day after it was posted, the resilient Uncle is a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media. The overall tone and setting of the video is so spirit-lifting and humbling, that it is not surprising for both netizens and state media outlets to jump on it, just as they did before with stories shared by Ding Zhen, Fan Yusu, or Zhong Jitao.

One hashtag for the short film – “How Uncle Cured My Mental Friction after Being Back in the Village for Three Days” #二舅治好了我的精神内耗# – received a staggering 630 million clicks by Tuesday. The hashtag “Why Did Uncle Blow Up Like That” (#二舅为什么突然火了#) received over 140 million views on Weibo.

The vlogger who made and posted the video is mostly known by his social media handle, Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想). The maker himself did not release his own real name nor that of his Uncle. The vlogger apparently used to be an instructor, as multiple netizens claim that he was their previous history teacher.

Yige Caixiang is not a Bilibili newcomer. As a creator, he previously uploaded over thirty videos. They are mostly related to popular science and none of them have blown up like this one has.

After the video flooded the internet, Yige Caixiang responded to the hype on Tuesday and posted the following on Weibo:

“Hi Weibo friends, many of you messaged me after seeing Uncle’s video, suggesting I’d let him go livestream on a big streaming site. Thanks to everyone for caring, but now that Uncle is getting some online attention, you want to persuade him to livestream to do what? Repeating his suffering like Xianglin’s Wife (t/n: this is a reference to an old woman in one of Lu Xun’s famous stories), then playing games with a bunch of people who don’t know anything, kneeling and begging them for support, and then suddenly starting to talk them into buying tissue paper? Uncle seriously lived half of his life already, I shared his story now, you heard it and it touched you, this makes a beautiful little story, and it should have a beautiful ending. Didn’t we see enough beautiful stories with a rotten ending over the past few years? Let Uncle quietly live together with grandma in the small mountain village – that is the most beautiful ending this story could have.”

Addressing rumors that the video was not authentic, Yige Caixiang said about the video that “every single word is true” and that none of the details surrounding Uncle’s life had been edited or altered in any way.

The video speaks to netizens for different reasons. Many are inspired due to the life lessons it contains regarding perseverance and not looking back on the things that might have been different. Others praise how Uncle was still able to save so much money for his daughter’s down-payment on her new home despite struggling himself. Many just applaud Uncle’s unparalleled strength despite their disability. Others appreciate the perspective the video gives on Chinese rural life.

There are also those who are concerned about enthusiastic netizens visiting Uncle in his sleepy hometown. Let’s hope the creator’s wish to let Uncle and his grandmother continue their quiet life together is the happy ending this viral story will get.

To view the video (no subtitles yet), state media outlet China Daily posted it to YouTube on Tuesday (embedded below):

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China Media

Chinese Reporter Who Cried On Air over Abe’s Death Attempted Suicide after Online Backlash

Chinese reporter Zeng Ying, who suffered online bullying earlier this month, posted a farewell letter on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Two weeks ago, after the assassination of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nara, a Chinese journalist reporting on the issue received online backlash for crying during a live broadcast covering the news.

As the clip went viral, many commenters criticized the reporter for being unprofessional and unpatriotic, and for not considering the stance of Chinese people regarding Abe’s controversial political legacy. Some Weibo users made very hateful comments, writing things such as: “If you grieve his death so much, why don’t you go join him?”

Zeng Ying, who is a Japan-based reporter for the Chinese media outlet The Paper, later wrote a post on her Weibo account in which she apologized for her ‘lack of professionalism and for putting her “personal feelings on display on this public platform.” A complete translation of her post can be found here.

On July 20, Zeng became a trending topic on Weibo once again after news came out that the reporter had allegedly attempted to commit suicide. One day earlier, Zeng Ying had posted a message on Chinese social media in which she announced that she suffered from depression and “decided to leave” and wanted to “say goodbye.”

Farewell post by Zeng Ying.

In the WeChat Moments post, the 32-year-old Zeng said that her depression made daily work and life impossible for her since early July. She also expressed concern over the future of a clothing brand she manages and the people working for the company.

Zeng Ying is not an official reporter for The Paper; she describes herself as a Japan-based Chinese entrepreneur and ‘self-media’ (自媒体) account. In 2019, she made it to the Forbes China ’30 under 30′ list for her role as the CEO of Tokyo-based Chinese marketing company DDBK (同道文化).

After Zeng’s alarming WeChat post, a befriended verified (‘big V’) Weibo blogger publicly shared her concerns over Zeng, saying she could not reach her and had already contacted Japanese police after seeing the post. She wrote she was scared and panicked because Zeng allegedly attempted to commit suicide before and “nearly died.”

On Thursday, while rumors and news about Zeng Ying circulated online, her Weibo account showed up as restricted and was no longer searchable via the platform’s search function.

Zeng Ying’s Weibo history showed the reporter shared her struggles before. “Life of course is very difficult,” she wrote on Weibo on June 26: “If you think life is sweet, then you are very lucky to have gotten the sugar that is not often obtained.”

Some commenters think the storm of criticism and online bullying Zeng Ying suffered earlier this month is directly related to her worsening condition and alleged suicide attempt.

Reporter Home (@记者的家), an official Weibo account dedicated to journalism, shared a post by reporter Li Jifeng (李继锋) about Zeng Ying, which said that she had been rushed to the hospital in Japan.

“We don’t know further details regarding this news, but we expect Zeng Ying to get through this difficult time, life is too valuable to waste,” Reporter Home wrote.

Many commenters, however, did not sympathize with the reporter, saying she was just putting up an act and writing things like: “If she genuinely liked and respected Abe, she deserves the same as him.” “Go and accompany him,” others wrote.

“Seeing everyone’s attitude, I feel hopeless,” one person reacted, with another person adding: “These comments are just scary.”

One Weibo hashtag regarding Zeng’s alleged suicide attempt (“Zeng Ying Suicide” #曾颖自杀#) was taken offline on Thursday.

We will add further details to this story once they come out.

For information and support on mental health and suicide, international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

By Manya Koetse

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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