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An Undying Love Story: 93-Year-Old Finds Lost Husband After 77 Years

After her husband did not return from the battlefield in 1937 wartime China, Zhang Shuying never forgot about him. After 77 years, the 93-year-old finally finds what she has been looking for.

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The story of 93-year-old Zhang Shuying has been shared on China’s social media thousands of times over the past few days. After her husband did not return from the battlefield in 1937 wartime China, she never forgot about him. After 77 years, the 93-year-old finally finds what she has been looking for: her husband’s soul. 

Zhang Shuying was only 14 years old when her mother arranged a blind date between her and army officer Zhong Chongxin in downtown Fuzhou. Although Zhang disliked the men she had met on previously arranged meetings, Zhong Chongxin was different: she immediately became smitten with the tall and gentle military officer. They got married in 1935 and settled down in Nanjing, while the Second Sino-Japanese War was on the way. The newly-weds were still very much in love when Zhong was sent to the battlefield in 1937. He told his young wife not to worry and promised to be back. In the meantime, the 16-year-old Zhang moved to her husband’s hometown of Chongqing. The Chinese tried to fight off the Japanese invader during the battle over Shanghai and the Nanjing Massacre, but thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians died. As the war continued, Zhang Shuying stopped hearing from her husband. For seven long years, she waited for him to come home.

1The young Zhang Shuying in Nanjing.

In 1944, Zhang met one of her husband’s comrade-in-arms on the streets in Chongqing. After he heard that Zhang had tried to get word from her husband for seven years, he contacted his officers. Finally, Zhang got the news she had been dreading for years; her husband had died in battle. Although she knew of his death, the young widow could not let go of her husband – there was nothing tangible about his death. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, Zhang’s parents and brother left for Taiwan. She decided to stay behind in Chongqing, because she wanted to spend the rest of her life in her husband’s city.

2The young newly-weds Zhang Shuying and Zhong Chongxin.

Zhang got remarried in 1949 and had three children. Although she was still heartbroken over her first husband’s death, she did not tell her children the story until 1988 as she did not want to burden them with her past. Zhang had one wish: she wanted something tangible on her husband’s death, she wanted to know where his last resting place was. When her son heard about his mother’s biggest wish, he went on the search for Zhong Chongxin. After decades of research, assisted by volunteers, Zhong Chongxin’s name was finally found on a war memorial (a spirit tablet) in the Martyrs’s Shrine in Taipei. This is where Zhong was enshrined together with other fallen soldiers.

On November 22nd 2014 the moment finally arrived that Zhang Shuying travelled to Taipei to visit the shrine in order to find her long-last husband’s name in between that of his fellow serviceman. A reporter from China’s Haidu News heard about Zhang’s 77-year “reunion” with her husband and decided to cover the story. Because of Zhong’s enshrinement at the temple, Zhang explains she felt that she had “finally found her husband” and had found “where his sprit was.” She stayed in Taipei for seven days and visited the shrine three times before saying goodbye to her husband a final time.

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aaaaThe ‘spirit tablet’ or memorial plaquette at Taipei’s Martyr’s Shrine, displaying the name of Zhong Chongxin (4th from right, lower row). Top photos show Mrs. Zhang Shuying at the tablet.

The story, first reported by Haidu and then other Chinese media, quickly went viral. Thousands of netizens showed their sympathy for the old woman who had searched for her lost husband for 77 years. The popularity of this personal account coincides with the Nanjing memorial. December 14th of 2014 was the first time that China arranged its an official memorial dedicated to the Japanese invasion of Nanjing, now 77 years ago.

a716fd45jw1en64q8qz3pj20dw0gzgmb-1Zhong Chongxin at his graduation. 

 

– by Manya Koetse

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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 Animals

‘Welcome Home, Molly’ – Chinese Zoo Elephant Returns to Kunming after Online Protest

One small step for animal protection in China, one giant leap for Molly the elephant.

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Following online protest and the efforts of animal activists, Molly has returned to the Kunming Zoo where she was born and where mother elephant Mopo is.

The little elephant named Molly is a big topic of discussion on Chinese social media recently.

The popular Asian elephant, born in the Kunming Zoo in 2016, was separated from her mother at the age of two in April of 2018. Molly was then transferred from Kunming Zoo to Qinyang, Jiaozuo (Henan), in exchange for another elephant. Over the past few years, fans of Molly started voicing their concerns online as the elephant was trained to do tricks and performances and to carry around tourists on her back at the Qinyang Swan Lake Ecological Garden (沁阳天鹅湖生态园), the Qinyang Hesheng Forest Zoo (沁阳和生森林动物园), the Jiaozuo Forestry Zoo (焦作森林动物园), and the Zhoukou Safari Park (周口野生动物世界).

Since the summer of 2021, more people started speaking out for Molly’s welfare when they spotted the elephant chained up and seemingly unhappy, forced to do handstands or play harmonica, with Molly’s handlers using iron hooks to coerce her into performing.

Earlier this month, Molly became a big topic on Chinese social media again due to various big accounts on Xiaohongshu and Weibo posting about the ‘Save Molly’ campaign and calling for an elephant performance ban in China (read more).

Although zookeepers denied any animal abuse and previously stated that the elephant is kept in good living conditions and that animal performances are no longer taking place, Molly’s story saw an unexpected turn this week. Thanks to the efforts of online netizens, Molly fans, and animal welfare activists, Molly was removed from Qinyang.

A popular edited image of Molly that has been shared a lot online.

On May 15, the Henan Forestry Bureau – which regulates the holding of all exotic species, including those in city zoos – announced that Molly would return to Kunming in order to provide “better living circumstances” for the elephant. A day later, on Monday, Molly left Qinyang and returned to the Kunming Zoo where she was born. In Kunming, Molly will first receive a thorough health check during the observation period.

Official announcement regarding Molly by the Henan Forestry Administration.

Many online commenters were happy to see Molly returning home. “Finally! This is great news,” many wrote, with others saying: “Please be good to her” and “Finally, after four years of hardship, Molly will be reunited with her mother.”

Besides regular Weibo accounts celebrating Molly’s return to Kunming, various Chinese state media accounts and official accounts (e.g. the Liaocheng Communist Youth League) also posted about Molly’s case and wished her a warm welcome and good wishes. One Weibo post on the matter by China News received over 76,000 likes on Monday.

Although many view the effective online ‘Save Molly’ campaign as an important milestone for animal welfare in China, some animal activists remind others that there are still other elephants in Chinese zoos who need help and better wildlife protection laws. Among them are the elephant Kamuli (卡目里) and two others who are still left in Qinyang.

For years, animal welfare activists in China and in other countries have been calling for Chinese animal protection laws. China does have wildlife protection laws, but they are often conflicting and do not apply to pets and there is no clear anti-animal abuse law.

“I’ll continue to follow this. What are the next arrangements? What is the plan for Molly and the other elephants? How will you guarantee a safe and proper living environment?”

Another Weibo user writes: “This is just a first step, there is much more to be done.”

To follow more updates regarding Molly, check out Twitter user ‘Diving Paddler’ here. We thank them for their contributions to this article.

To read more about zoos and wildlife parks causing online commotion in China, check our articles here.

By Manya Koetse

References (other sources linked to within text)

Arcus Foundation (Ed.). 2021. State of the Apes: Killing, Capture, Trade and Ape Conservation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

China Daily. 2012. “Animal Rights Groups Seek Performance Ban.” China Daily, April 16 http://www.china.org.cn/environment/2012-04/16/content_25152066.htm [Accessed May 1 2022].

Li, Peter J. 2021. Animal Welfare in China: Culture, Politics and Crisis. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

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China Health & Science

Shanghai ‘Dead Man’ Taken Away to Morgue, Found to Be Alive

An incident in which a man taken to a morgue turned out to be alive doesn’t really help to restore residents’ trust in Shanghai.

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An incident in which a Shanghai man, who was thought to be dead, was taken to a funeral home before he was found to be alive has become a big topic on Chinese social media.

The incident happened on the afternoon of May 1st at the Shanghai Xinchangzheng Nursing Home (上海新长征福利院) in the city’s Putuo District.

A video of the incident went viral on Chinese social media in which a body bag can be seen put into a vehicle by three people, two members of staff from the nursing home and one funeral home worker. Shortly after, the body bag is taken out again and put back on a trolley. One of the nurses zips open the bag, pulls a cover from the man’s face, and apparently finds him to be alive.

“He’s alive,” one of the workers says in shock: “He’s alive, I saw it, he’s alive. Don’t cover him any more.”

The man is then transferred back into the nursing home, still inside the body bag.

The video that is making its rounds on social media was filmed from two different angles, the person filming can be heard calling the incident “a disgrace for human life” and “irresponsible.”

On May 2nd, the Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily posted about the incident on Weibo, saying the city district is currently investigating the case. The man was hospitalized and his vital signs are stable.

Meanwhile, multiple people are held accountable for the incident. The head of the nursing home has been dismissed and will be further investigated, along with four district officials. The license of the doctor involved will also be revoked.

The Shanghai Xinchangzheng Nursing Home has also apologized for the incident (#上海一福利院就未死亡老人被拉走道歉#).

On social media, many people are angry about the incident, wondering why the old man was transported to the funeral home in the first place, and why the members of staff seemed to be indifferent after finding out he was still alive.

In the video, the member of staff standing next to the man can be seen covering the patient’s face again after finding out he is still alive, leaving the body bag zipped up. Many also see this as a cold and incomprehensible way to respond.

After weeks of online anger about the chaotic and sometimes inhumane way in which Shanghai authorities have been handling the Covid outbreak in the city, this incident seems to further lower the public’s trust in how patients and vulnerable residents are being treated.

“Shanghai is such a terrifying place!”, some on Weibo write.

“Just think about it,” one person responded: “This incident took place in one of China’s most prosperous cities and happened to be filmed. How much is happening in other cities that is not caught on camera? Today, it’s this man, in the future, it’s us.”

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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