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61 Years After His Little Brother Was Traded for Bread, This Man Is Determined to Find Him

In 1957, Zhang’s brother was given away by his mother because she couldn’t afford to pay for a stolen bread.

Chauncey Jung

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Walking, searching, and asking around on the streets of Xi’an, the 72-year-old Zhang Bingwen (张丙文) and his 77-year-old sister are looking to find their younger brother, who was traded for a piece of steamed bread 61 years ago.

This story attracted the attention of netizens on Weibo this week, as Zhang and his sister came from Henan province to Xi’an to look for their brother, despite the rare chance of finding him.

“My mother came to Xi’an to visit my uncle 61 years ago,” Zhang said in a video (by Pear Video) that made its rounds on social media.

“On our way back home, my brother was caught stealing a piece of steamed bread,” Zhang tells: “The vendor demanded compensation.” As the family had no money, Zhang’s mother then said the vendor had to take the child, leading to Zhang’s younger brother being traded as compensation for the stolen food.

It was the last time Zhang would see his younger brother. In 2005, Zhang already went looking for his missing sibling – with no success. After Zhang had a dream about his younger brother recently, he decided to go out and look for him once more.

Zhang told Chinese reporters that his family was in deep poverty at the time he lost his brother: “We were extremely poor. There were seven children in our family, and one of them even starved to death,” he said in the interview, suggesting that his mother also gave her little son away to give him a better life.

“To trade one piece of steamed bread for a kid, this is truly heartbreaking,” one popular Weibo user commented. “People in those days were really, really poor,” another user added.

“His mother wanted to give the kid a better chance to live. The steamed bread was just an excuse to give the child away. He might have died otherwise, as his mother was not able to feed him,” a fellow Weibo user commented.

One netizen writes: “People have no idea how hard life was back then.”

In the 1950s, Mao Zedong encouraged families to have more children to increase the country’s future laborforce. Due to the poor economic conditions at the time, however, many families were not able to feed their children and were facing starvation.

Some Weibo users suggested that more media and government organizations should help to find Zhang’s brother. By now, the hashtag “Brother given away because of piece of bread” (#弟弟因1个馒头送人#) was viewed nearly nine million times.

Since Zhang and his sister started their searching mission, they have found no traces leading to their brother yet.

By Chauncey Jung

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Chauncey Jung is a China internet specialist who currently works for an Internet company based out of Beijing. Jung completed his BA and MA education in Canada (Univ. of Toronto & Queen's), and has a strong interest in Chinese trends, technology, economic developments and social issues.

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China Media

Gansu Female Student Commits Suicide after School Ignores Sexual Abuse Claims

Shockingly, some people applauded as the girl jumped to her death.

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A tragic story about a 19-year-old girl whose abuse story was not believed by her school or local authorities is making its rounds on Chinese social media – together with a video that shows the girl’s horrifying suicide. (Updated.)

The horrific suicide of a 19-year-old female student from Qingyang in Gansu province was live-streamed on Chinese social media on June 21st when she jumped from a high building in the prefecture-level city.

According to various Weibo sources and some media (e.g. EBC), the young woman named Li suffered from severe depression after her school and local authorities did not believe her when she reported that her high school teacher had sexually assaulted her.

According to Li’s reports, which leaked online, the assault happened during school time in 2016 after a visit to the school nurse. Li, who had a stomach ache, was recovering in the school’s resting area where a teacher named Wu Yonghou (吴永厚) was in charge.

When Wu sat by Li to check on her, he allegedly held her and kissed her on the mouth, face, and ears. He also attempted to take off her clothes, but when another teacher entered the area, the assault stopped.

China Times reports that the incident weighed very heavy on Li, who went to the school counsellor the following day. Against Li’s will, however, they settled the case by making teacher Wu apologize to the girl. They summoned her to go back to class afterward – with Wu as her teacher.

The young student proceeded to report the case to local authorities. But since Wu claimed he had only touched Li as a way of ‘physical examination’ to ‘check if she had a fever,’ he was released without charge and continued to work at Li’s school as her teacher. Li consequently gave up to undertake further legal steps against Wu.

An official report about Li’s claims leaked online.

Following this ordeal, Li allegedly suffered from depression, which led to her suicide on the 21st of this month.

According to one influential Weibo blogging media account (5.7 million followers), some hundred people had gathered at the building where Li was trying to jump, where they allegedly cheered, applauded, and screamed “jump already” (not confirmed in official media).

A shocking video (warning: death, viewer discretion advised) shows how the young woman is hanging from a window in a high building, with a rescue worker trying to pull her back inside.

When Li pulls herself away and falls down the high building, the rescue worker loudly cries out in agony and weeps while bystanders can be heard gasping, screaming, and some, shockingly, clapping. Li did not survive her fall.

 

“Girl, I hope you’re off to a better world, where people are not so cold and detached.”

 

By June 24, the post about Li’s story and video showing her fall was shared on Weibo more than 30.000 times, with over 35.000 people leaving comments. The story also received much attention in hundreds of other posts across Weibo.

Many netizens show their sympathy for both the woman and the rescue worker: “A girl’s despair, a rescue worker’s despair – one because she doesn’t want to continue living, the other because he wasn’t able to rescue her in the final moments. I don’t understand how bystanders can laugh.”

“That sound of weeping hits me in the heart. It’s not your fault, you did what you could to save her. Girl, I hope you’re off to a better world, where people are not so cold and detached.”

“It is the people who clapped who really made her kill herself. Even her last bit of spirit was crushed in those final moments,” others say.

Rumors also make their rounds, such as that some individuals claim the rescue worker in question previously already saved the girl from a suicide attempt in 2017 and was familiar with her. These rumors remain unconfirmed.

There are also people in the comment section who allege there was a time period of four hours while rescue workers talked to the girl and tried to help her before that fatal jump. They ask: “Why didn’t the authorities prepare for an air cushion on the ground?”

A lot of comments condemn the bystanders who were clapping at the time of Li’s suicide. “They are animals,” a typical comment said.

Many also condemn the teacher, asking: “How can people like this even become a teacher?”

Over the past few months, various stories about abusive teacher-student relations have become trending topics on Chinese social media.

The story of female student Gao Yan, who committed suicide in 1998 after suffering abuse by her professor, surfaced again in April of this year when an old classmate of Gao Yan came forward in the media. But there were also other stories of (male) students committing suicide due to the maltreatment they faced by their teachers.

“I hope this story becomes even bigger,” one Weibo user writes: “I want everyone to see the injustice that is at the heart of this story.”

Update June 25 (18:30 Beijing time): State media outlet Global Times reports that multiple onlookers who were “disrespectful to life” by cheering on Li’s suicide have been taken into custody. Local authorities said investigations will continue.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are international suicide hotlines for you to contact. For China, see this information. The US national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK, or please see this list of international helplines.

By Manya Koetse


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©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Food & Drinks

‘Baozi Burgers’ as ‘Insult’? Global Times Editorial Attacks Western-Chinese Fusion Food

“It combines Western with Chinese fast food while ridiculing both food traditions for the sake of a marketing gag for expats with little or no culinary background.”

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“A new fad has flooded expat-oriented restaurants in Beijing,” author Lilian Hamilton writes for Chinese state media outlet Global Times in a recent video news feature. The video criticizes fusion foods such as the ‘Baozi burger’ or ‘Baozza’ (baozi + pizza) that mix popular Western and Chinese fast foods.

The feature was covered by Beijing blogger Jim Boyce on Beijingboyce.com, where he writes that “state-owned medium Global Times just cooked up a heaping serving of culinary cultural appropriation shade with a side dish of WTF. In this slide show, it takes aim at “baozza”, the tasty pizza-baozi combos I have covered here, here and here.”

Culinary ‘cultural appropriation’ has been an online issue of debate for some time now. In this Huffington Post article, for example, the author expresses that she finds it “painful” when, among other examples, the New York Times issues a recipe that features ‘pho’ (a type of Vietnamese soup) with broccoli and quinoa, or when 7Up releases a self-invented kimchi recipe.

 

It combines Western with Chinese fast food while ridiculing both food traditions for the sake of a marketing gag for expats with little or no culinary background.”

 

In the thousands of restaurants in cities such as Beijing or Shanghai there will be new food trends popping up every day. The ‘baozza’ is one of them; it is a steamed bun, called baozi (包子) in Chinese, filled with pizza ingredients.

By whatsonweibo.com.

The full text of the Global Times feature, which was also published as an editorial, is as follows:

A new fad has flooded expat-oriented restaurants in Beijing: BAOZZA (Baozi + pizza). Baozi is a common Chinese breakfast dish or snack. A fluffy steamed white bun with a vegetable or ground meat filling.”

Global Times.

Pizza is brought to life by the Italian thin crust dough and the right sugo (tomato sauce), mozzarella cheese and fresh toppings.”

Baozza claims to be ‘Pizza with Chinese characteristics.’ Instead, it combines Western with Chinese fast food while ridiculing both food traditions for the sake of a marketing gag for expats with little or no culinary background.”

There must be at least a temporary demand. Otherwise, a newly-opened bar in Sanlitun would not offer ‘Burger Baozi’ on their menu. With the bamboo steamer basket being a mere decoration, these grilled ‘baozi’ halves come with beef, chicken, Beijing duck or mushroom filling. While a boazi at your regular street vendor costs 2 yuan, you pay around 50 yuan for a ‘Baozi Burger.’

Luckily, these fusion food fads are usually gone faster than you can flush the remnants of your latest food poisening down the toilet.”

The article text by Lilian Hamilton also says that the ‘baozza’ “seems like an insult,” and is “wrong on just so many more levels.”

 

A growing movement of people call out ‘white people who profit off the culinary ideas and dishes swiped from other cultures’.”

 

At a time when cultural appropriation, in general, is a hot topic, the idea of the cultural appropriation of food has also become more of an issue of debate.

Defining the term and idea of ‘cultural appropriation’ itself is not easy. While the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture,” the Urban Dictionary says it is “the ridiculous notion that being of a different culture or race (especially white) means that you are not allowed to adopt things from other cultures.”

A recent example is that of the American girl who wore a Chinese-style dress to her prom – something people in US seemed to take offense to, while most commenters on Weibo deemed the critique was silly.

The ‘cultural appropriation’ of food suggests that certain foods can be ‘confiscated’ when people from a dominant culture start to commercialize it.

A 2017 BBC article featured the views of Filipino-American food and travel photographer Celeste Noche, who finds it problematic that food bloggers will posts photos of, for example, Filipino short ribs with chopsticks (“even though Filipinos traditionally eat with spoons and forks or their hands”), or the stylization of Asian dishes on bamboo mats or banana leaves.

A Washington Post article from 2017 also addressed a growing movement of people who call out “white people who profit off the culinary ideas and dishes swiped from other cultures,” one of the names mentioned being Fuchsia Dunlop, a UK-born cook and food-writer who specializes in Sichuan cooking.

 

A “marketing gag”? More like genius and truly innovative..”

 

So are the ‘baozza’ or the ‘baozi burgers’ the next targets in the campaign against the ‘cultural appropriation’ of food?

The American inventer of the ‘baozza’, Alex Cree, evidently does not see anything wrong with it. He came up with the idea of stuffing a Chinese steamed bun with cheese, tomato, or other pizza toppings, during a trip with clients in southern China.

On Weibo, the only comments relating to Baozza are those of people who are curious to try out the ‘fad’ food. New or original food items such as these are often (temporarily) popular; another recent food item that attracted the attention of Chinese netizens was the Zang Baobao, a Chinese-French chocolate croissant product.

On Twitter, the attack on fusion snacks is also does not receive much understanding. “A “marketing gag”? More like genius and truly innovative! Way more tasty than traditional baozi,” @XiaoLan17 writes.

Damien Ma (@damienics) is already thinking of the next food fad; a ‘moonut’ that mixes Chinese moon cake with donut products.

Although Global Times‘s Lilian Hamilton and others might object, the rise of fusion food trends shows that snacks such as the Baozi Burger, the Baozza, or the potential ‘Moonut’ will not disappear from China’s big-city restaurant scene anytime soon.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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