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“Black Man Causing Trouble in Hefei” Incident Triggers Waves of Racist Remarks on Weibo

Photos of the arrest of a black man in Hefei triggered waves of racist remarks on Weibo this weekend.

Manya Koetse

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Photos of the arrest of a black man in Hefei triggered waves of racist remarks on Weibo this weekend. Online racism against Africans has been an ongoing issue on Weibo ever since the platform was first launched.

On August 4, police in Hefei, Anhui, arrested a black man in the city for “causing trouble” and “picking quarrels.” The man reportedly injured another person on the street.

Photos of the incident made their rounds on Chinese social media on August 5. Hefei Headlines (@头条合肥) was one of the accounts sharing the news on Weibo with the headline “Black Man Causing Trouble in Hefei” (“黑人男子合肥寻衅滋事”).

The incident occurred around 4 pm on Fanhua Street, right before the Foreign Languages College. In the photos that are making their rounds on Weibo, the man can be seen running from the police, wearing nothing but underpants and sneakers.

It is not clear what triggered the incident and what the man exactly did, nor are there any reports on where the man comes from or whether he is a student at the college.

The photos triggered two types of responses on Weibo: on the one hand, there were those people who just praised the police for the work they are doing and risks they are taking, and on the other hand, there were large numbers of netizens who made racist remarks about the black man.

“Black monkey go back to Africa,” or “black trash” were typical comments amongst the thousands of reactions on Weibo.

“There are so many black devils in Guangzhou, and they bring AIDS with them, it’s disgusting,” one person said. Guangzhou has the largest black community in China.

Online racism against Africans has been an ongoing issue on Weibo ever since the platform was first launched in 2009. At the time, an essay about the racism against Chinese in Africa drew much attention. In 2013, Weibo was flooded by news of Chinese being killed in Ghana.

The existing idea that Chinese are looked down upon in Africa has allegedly worsened anti-African sentiments in China, although there are also those who already warned in 2013 that “the denigration and discrimination of black people [in Africa by the Chinese] is spreading like an epidemic.”

Throughout the years, multiple news stories concerning Africans have triggered waves of racist remarks.

In “From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism”1, scholar Cheng (2011) argues that anti-black racism in China has re-emerged with China’s deeper economic involvement in Africa, due to which large numbers of Chinese and Africans have come to work in each other’s countries.

Cheng writes that although there already were waves of racism against Africans in the early post-Mao era, it has resurfaced over the last decade with the rise of China as a global power. Given that there are still many regarding Africans as “racially inferior,” “these people think it is wrong for Africans to create social problems in Chinese cities and impede China’s actions in Africa” (561)1.

But on Weibo, there are many who take the issue of racism in China lightly, comparing it to other countries: “If this were America, this guy would have already have been shot and killed.”

“We have no racism in China,” one commenter says: “We just have a distinction of good versus evil.” Others had similar jokes, saying: “There are only two types of people I can’t stand: 1. racists and 2. black people.”

Despite all racist slurs and racist jokes, there were also those who had a serious message for all foreigners: “There are many foreigners from wherever who don’t take Chinese law seriously. I don’t care where you are from, but you have to abide by the Chinese law if you’re in China.”

It is unknown how long the man will be detained.

By Manya Koetse

1 Cheng, Yinghong. 2011. “From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism: Discourse of Race and Chinese Nationalism.” The China Quarterly (207): 561-579.

©2017 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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Truthspeaker

    August 8, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Tiny nationalists of the internet never miss the occasion to remind us all how pathetically small their manhood is.

    • Avatar

      Joe

      August 10, 2017 at 2:41 am

      You must know from sucking their manhood .

      • Avatar

        Adolf Hitler

        October 14, 2017 at 1:46 am

        This guy knows. I love getting my dick sucked by these pussy ass leftists. Every time there’s a black blocc protest in the tristate area I make sure to swing by, fully erect and ready to party. I just make sure to bring protection, both from all the bike locks and all the rampant AIDS spread by these racemixing faggots.

        14/88 y’all, jet fuels don’t melt steel beams.
        Ya boy A.H.

  2. Avatar

    SpeakTheTruth

    August 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Better question is why are there so many black African sexpats in China who pump and dump Chinese women and project their desire for racial supremacy over Asian men and anti-Asian racism?

  3. Avatar

    garrett

    October 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Chinese and Asian citizens are nothing but suspected white supremacists. No different from white americans who they stupidly call “good”.

  4. Avatar

    Moshe Shekelsteinberg

    October 14, 2017 at 1:38 am

    Oy vey, just reading this article made me remember all the racist remarks those nazi’s made against me in the death camps, we better start helping china in rooting out all those racists and accept the ways of multiculturalism.
    No jew will rest until all chinese women have accepted progress, diversity and a beautiful black man in their lives.

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China Local News

Knife-Wielding Woman Goes on Rampage at Guixi Primary School

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground.

Manya Koetse

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A woman in Guixi, a county-level city in Jiangxi’s Yingtan, has been taken into custody after stabbing people at a primary school on Monday, May 20, around noon. The incident resulted in at least two fatalities and left ten others injured.

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground, victims of the woman’s stabbing rampage at the Mingde Primary School in Guixi’s Wenfang.

The incident immediately attracted significant attention on Weibo, where netizens not only commented on the tragedy of innocent children being involved in such a horrific crime but also on the unusual fact that the suspect is female; as typically, perpetrators of such crimes are male.

Others also questioned why the school security guards were not present to prevent such an incident and how the woman managed to gain access to the school grounds in the first place.

The 45-year-old female suspect is a native of Guixi. It’s reported that she used a paring knife to carry out the stabbing attack on the school premises.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities called on blood donation centers in Guixi to extend their opening hours, and local residents started queuing up to donate blood to help out the victims who are still being treated for their injuries.

Another question that lingers is why the woman would commit such an atrocious crime. People suggest it is bàofù shèhuì (报复社会), a Chinese term that translates to “retaliate against society” or “taking revenge on society.”

Baofu shehui is often cited as a type of criminal motivation for knife-wielding incidents in China, particularly those occurring at schools, where individuals with personal grievances and/or mental health issues commit these extreme crimes. Such incidents have happened multiple times in the past, notably between 2010 and 2012, during a series of elementary school and kindergarten attacks.

Different from these kinds of attacks in Europe or the US, it often involves older perpetrators who are disillusioned, frustrated, and alienated from their communities amid rapidly changing social and economic conditions in China.

But for many netizens, such a possible motivation does not make sense. Some commenters wrote: “Taking revenge on society should never be done by venting one’s anger against children.”

Others wish the worst upon the perpetrator. One popular comment says, “I hope she gets the death penalty, and that the victims’ families get to execute her.”

By Manya Koetse

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China Insight

Red Cross Society of China in Bad Light Due to Online Rumors after Gansu Earthquake

Even though the rumors surrounding the Red Cross might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

Manya Koetse

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A handwarmer for 500 yuan ($70), a tent for 2200 yuan ($308), a blanket for 100 yuan ($14)? An online list detailing items supposedly procured by the Gansu Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts has ignited controversy on Chinese social media in recent days. Although the Red Cross has denied all rumors, the incident underscores public skepticism towards the organization.

After the devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Jishishan (积石山), a county in China’s Gansu Province’s Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, on December 18, Chinese social media platforms were flooded with news related to the disaster. The overnight earthquake killed at least 148 people and left hundreds injured.

News of the earthquake resonated deeply throughout the country, and the ongoing search and rescue operations and relief efforts, hindered by landslides, ruined infrastructure, and freezing temperatures, have attracted major attention online.

While much of the discourse revolves around the goodness of the people contributing to charities and doing all they can to help victims in the affected areas, there is also public distrust surrounding the motives of some charities or helping organizations that might use the disaster as an opportunity to make a profit.

One hotly debated topic revolves around the Red Cross Society of China, after a list surfaced online of items allegedly purchased by the Gansu Red Cross for relief efforts in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake.

Image published on Weibo via Red Cross Society of China (@中国红十字会总会).

The procurement list raised controversy due to the high prices of the common items listed, and because of a supposed “management fee” (管理费) of 1.6 million yuan ($224k).

In response, the Red Cross refuted these claims, asserting that they had not issued any such list (#甘肃红十字称没发布任何物资清单#). On December 24, the Gansu Red Cross took to Weibo (@甘肃省红十字会) to clarify that the circulating information was “grossly inaccurate.” They assured the public that all donations would directly aid earthquake relief efforts, without incurring management fees.

The Red Cross statement on Weibo.

Even though the procurement list might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

“Why does the Red Cross end up in the top trending lists every time?” one commenter wondered: “Their information should be more transparent and timely.”

Others also suggested that merely denying the rumors was not enough, and that they hoped that the Red Cross would provide more details and information to show netizens, of whom many donated money, how their charity money is being spent to help relief efforts in the affected areas in Gansu and Qinghai.

The fact that the Red Cross Weibo post did not allow any commenting did not help: “Why are you afraid to let us openly discuss this?”

 
Red Cross Society of China: Tainted by Suspicion
 

The Red Cross of China, the nation’s largest charitable organization, continues to grapple with a tarnished reputation that partly stems from the 2011 “Guo Meimei Incident.”

Guo Meimei (郭美美), whose real name is Guo Meiling, became an infamous internet celebrity in the summer of 2011 after flaunting her excessive wealth online whilst claiming to work as a “commercial general manager” for the Red Cross Society of China.

The issue severely eroded the society’s credibility, which has been designated by the government as the central public donation organization during times of disasters (Cheng 2016). From luxury handbags to sports cars, the 19-year-old Guo showed off her money on Weibo, and quickly went viral on various message boards as people were angered over corruption and potential misuse of charity money.

Guo Meimei

Despite efforts by the Red Cross Society to debunk these rumors and distance itself from Guo, speculations persisted. Many speculated about Guo’s potential ties to the organization, even if she did not officially work there. As highlighted by Cheng (2016), the public’s negative sentiment toward the Red Cross triggered “a chain of credibility crises” and even spread to other charitable groups in China.

During the 2020 Wuhan Covid outbreak, the Red Cross faced scrutiny for allegedly stockpiling public donations of medical supplies in warehouses rather than promptly distributing them to frontline medical personnel facing shortages.

The current allegations against the Red Cross of China in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake also echo other past controversies, such as the one they dealt with after the 2008 Sichuan quake. Red Cross officials were then also accused of misusing donations by purchasing needlessly expensive tents and vehicles.

 
Donations for the ‘Underdog’: The Han Hong Foundation
 

The growing public distrust towards the Red Cross has arguably paved the way for other Chinese charities to gain prominence. A prime example is the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation (韩红爱心慈善基金会), established in 2012 by renowned Chinese folk singer Han Hong (韩红, 1971).

Although Han Hong has been engaged in charity for many years, during which she invested a lot of her own money, the charity she established became more known after the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation was committed to aid efforts during the Wuhan Covid outbreak in 2020 and the Henan floods in 2021.

Han Hong (center), picture via Xiaohongshu fan of Han Hong.

After the earthquake in Gansu on December 18th, Han Hong’s organization immediately organized rescue teams and provided people in the affected areas with clothes and (medical) supplies. Hang Hong was able to rake in millions thanks to her reputation of being compassionate and altruistic, as well as through her strong network in China’s entertainment industry, leading numerous Chinese celebrities to support her relief efforts.

But Han Hong’s organization is also affected by the public distrust surrounding charity in China. On December 23, it was rumored that her Charity Foundation was officially asked to leave the disaster area as well as to hand over a portion of their donations.

The foundation refuted these claims by issuing a statement on December 25 (#韩红基金会辟谣#).

Statement by Han Hong Love Charity Foundation refuting rumors that their charity work was hindered by officials.

In the public view, there seems to be a big difference between perceptions of large entities like the Red Cross and other ‘official’ charitable organizations versus smaller, more independent initiatives like the Han Hong foundation, which operates as a private charitable entity.

Reflecting on the rumors surrounding both the Red Cross and Han Hong’s foundation, one Weibo commenter noted: “These rumors come into existence because so many of these so-called charitable foundations actually treat charity as their business. And so, they become ‘competitors.’”

Meanwhile, Han Hong’s organization stresses that it operates under the guidance and oversight of the party and government, and only provide emergency support through their support.

In online discussions on the power of the Red Cross versus Han Hong’s organization, some commenters suggest that it is time for the government and authorities to reflect on why a private organization would be more trusted than the Red Cross, a government organized NGO.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “What Han Hong does is true charity instead of business.” Another person replied: “The biggest disaster here is actually the erosion of public trust.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Cheng, Yang. 2016. “Social Media Keep Buzzing! A Test of Contingency Theory in China’s Red Cross Credibility Crisis.” International Journal of Communication, June 2016: pp. 3241+.

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