A tragic story has received much (social) media attention in China and beyond over the past week. It concerns an incident that occurred on January 3rd in the “Spa World” pool in Xiangyang, Shaanxi, where a mother was watching her phone as her 4-year-old son struggled in the water behind her. Footage shows that after 3 minutes, the young boy drowned.
According to Sina News, the woman had taken her son and her 6-year-old daughter to play in the local spa resort’s kid’s pool area. When they were about to leave, the woman, named Xiao, discovered her son was no longer in the shallow end of the pool and she alerted the swimming pool staff.
It allegedly took the staff an hour to find the 4-year-old on the bottom of the swimming pool – he had died by the time they found him. The incident, captured by security cameras, triggered different discussions on Chinese social media about who can be held responsible for the boy’s death and had many netizens talking about the dangers of ‘smartphone addiction.’
“I hope this is a warning for all netizens to put down their phone and don’t be a smartphone addict.”
“If the swimming pool has security cameras it would make sense if they would actually be monitored. They could have saved him if they saw he was drowning,” one netizen says, adding: “I also hope this is a warning for all netizens to put down their phone and don’t be a smartphone addict.”
“Where are the lifeguards? Where are the warning signs? Where is the disclaimer warning people that entering the pool could kill you? This poor woman has lost her baby and you are talking about her sense of responsibility, her world has collapsed!” one netizen comments.
The swimming pool reportedly had a shallow end of 0.30 metres and a deep end of 1.3 metres. The boy drowned at a depth of 1.1 metres.
Although many people think the swimming pool can be held (partly) accountable for the incident, a majority of netizens thinks that the full responsibility lies with the mother. “Being a mother takes responsibilities,” one person
“Being a mother takes responsibilities,” one person comments: “Especially when your child is only 4 years old, you never know what they can do. She did not notice anything for a whole 3 minutes.”
“She deserves to be punished,” one Weibo user from Beijing even writes. “She is too careless,” others comment.
“In China, ‘smartphone addicts’ are referred to as ‘dītóuzú’, ‘the bowed head clan’, as people usually look down to scroll on their phone.”
According to Tianjin News, surveys have pointed out that 40% of parents at times neglect their children while looking at their cellphone.
Last October, a 2-year-old girl from Yueyang, Hunan, was hit and killed by a car as she was walking in front of her mother and got underneath a driving vehicle. Her mother did not notice as she was staring down on her smartphone. The accident happened within a time frame of just 20 seconds and led to media warning China’s smarthpone addicts to pay attention instead of staring at their screen.
Sina News also reported about a young mother from Chongqing who recently lost her 3-year-old daughter as they were taking a stroll while the mother was looking at her phone – not even noticing her child had wandered off. Police officers later found the little girl unharmed.
In China, ‘smartphone addicts’ are referred to as dītóuzú (低头族), literally: ‘the bowed head clan’, as people usually look down to scroll on their phone.
On Weibo, the hashtag “Don’t be a smartphone addict” has gained some popularity, with people reminding each other to pay attention to your family and friends instead of staring at your phone.
“Smartphone addiction is getting more and more widespread,” one Weibo user remarks: “People just seem inseparable from their phones.”
Hong-Kong singer Alex Fong posted a picture of his parents on New Year’s Eve, saying: “Smartphone addiction is not just something of the younger generations anymore..”
“Wake up, ‘bowed head clan’!”
Chinese media point out that being a smartphone addict is also dangerous for one’s health, as it can lead to a painful neck, dizziness, numb fingers, and even permanently damage our spine.
“Wake up, ‘bowed head clan’!” the People’s Daily writes.
The newspaper lined up 8 questions to test how addicted you are to your phone. They include the following:
1- Do you feel less secure when you have left the house without your phone?
2- Do you always take out your phone to scroll Weibo or WeChat or play a game when waiting for the bus, train or elevator?
3- Do you have your phone within reach when driving, and do you use it when waiting for a red light?
4- Do you often take pictures of your food before eating, sharing it on social media?
5- Are you used to taking out your phone and looking at the screen when meeting up with friends?
6- Do you play on your phone while on the toilet?
7- Do you play on your phone before sleeping?
8- Do you immediately look at your phone screen within moments after waking up?
If you recognize yourself in these questions and have answered three or more with ‘yes’, then you are already part of the ‘bowed head clan’, People’s Daily warns. “Put down your phone,” some netizens say: “Don’t be an addict.”
The swimming pool where the tragic incident happened as been closed for now while an investigation is carried out.
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Exam Room For HIV-positive Students Sparks Social Media Storm in China
For the first time ever in China, HIV-positive students will take the national college exams in a separate examination room at a special school in Linfen, Shanxi. News of the segregated exam site has triggered intense debate among Weibo netizens over the past few days.
Linfen Red-Ribbon School, the only special school for HIV-infected children in China, sparked a social media storm in early June when Shanxi Daily reported that its students would take their national exams in a special exam room, instead of taking it at the standard local exam site together with other students.
The Red Ribbon School was established in December of 2011, and has since been included in the national education system. The Institute offers free food, dorms, medical services, and psychological treatment for its 33 students, who come from all over China.
China’s national college exam, better known as the gaokao (高考), is the National Higher Entrance Examination. For most students, it is the most important exam of their life.
The Red Ribbon School received official authorization to let 16 of its students take the national exam within the school premises. The students have lived and studied at the Institute since 2004. All prerequisites for the official exam, including CCTV and surveillance equipment, have now been installed in two designated gaokao rooms. There are separate rooms for candidates in liberal arts and science.
The idea for the special exam site was originally suggested by Guo Xiaoping, the school’s headmaster. People with HIV often still face severe stigma and discrimination in China. “It is unrealistic to prevent all discrimination in modern-day society,” Guo said in an interview with the Shanxi Daily: “Some people might object to taking tests together with our students. It was my proposal to set up a separate place for them, and it was then approved by the education and exam council. The establishment of this examination site is of major significance.”
But not all netizens agreed on the helpfulness of separate exam rooms, and it triggered wider debates on the existence of the school itself. One Chinese web user objected: “’Red-Ribbon school’? Giving the school this name is like screaming from the rooftops ‘these kids are sick!’ This institution is unprecedentedly wicked rather than meaningful.”
Another person ridiculed the exam arrangements, pointing out that it reinforced discrimination instead of eliminating it.
There are also many people who approve of the school; but also because they are worried about their own ‘safety.’ On the Weibo page of Chinanews, the comment that received the most ‘likes’ explained a concerned parent’s perspective: “Would you feel safe knowing your kid is playing with those HIV-positive children? They are so little and don’t know how to protect themselves. Something might happen that leads to contact with blood.”
“I bet that half of the comments here are just out of political correctness. To be honest, I don’t want to live with HIV-students in the same college because I’m afraid that I might have some dangerous physical contact with them without even knowing it.”
There are also Weibo commenters who support headmaster Guo Xiaoping. “He’s a great man who quit his job as the president of the Linfen People’s Hospital to devote himself to building this school to help HIV-infected kids receive a proper education. It is really unfair to talk badly about such a kind old man and these poor children.”
In 2014, over half a million (501,000) of China’s population were reportedly living with HIV. Although the number of HIV cases is relatively low in China, this has also intensified existing stigmas and fear (see this 2009 study on stigma and discrimination among people with HIV in low HIV-prevalence contexts).
HIV-infected children in China are often forced to drop out of school because of poverty, discrimination, and poor health. In 2014, the 8-year-old HIV-infected Kunkun made headlines when he was banished from his village for the ‘safety’ of his neighbors. He later found a new home at the Red Ribbon school.
Sixth Tone recently reported that many workers with Chinese Hepatitis B seek body doubles to pass health checks in the workplace to avoid discrimination. Similar practices also occur with HIV carriers. Taboos surrounding the disease are so strong that some Chinese doctors still fear treating HIV/Aids patients, despite anti-discrimination rules.
Looking at the many comments on Chinese social media about the facts and falsehoods about HIV/Aids, it is clear that there is still a long road ahead for HIV awareness in China – especially because sexual education is still a controversial topic.
Through an open letter online, one of the students of the Red Ribbon School also gave their view and final say on the matter. They wrote: “I just want to go to college, achieve my dreams and pay back those who love me. The nearer the gaokao is, the heavier my heart feels. So many questions have been troubling me: whether I will be accepted to a university, if the teachers will accept me as a normal student, and whether my classmates will study and live with me.”
The students of the Red Ribbon Schools will be taking their exams on June 7 and 8. One 19-year-old Weibo netizen wishes the students the best: “As a Linfen resident, this moves me to tears, and I am proud of Linfen. All these keyboard warriors need to shut up and stop discriminating. You can’t deprive these students of their rights. I wish them all the good luck for their exams!”
Additional editing by Manya Koetse
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Another Hospital Scandal: Nanchang Doctor Asks Woman for More Money during Abortion
A news story about a doctor forcing her patient into paying more money during an abortion procedure has sparked anger on Chinese social media about illegal practices at Chinese hospitals.
A second-year female student named Xiao Chen (小陈) from Nanchang became a much-discussed topic on Weibo on April 11 when she told journalists about her traumatic experience while she was undergoing an abortion at a Nanchang hospital (南昌建设医院).
During the surgery, the doctor asked her to pay more money to undergo another procedure. When she declined, the doctor moved the medical instrument inside her, causing excruciating pain that did not stop until the girl agreed to pay for the second procedure.
“I had only come in for the abortion and did not understand why I would have to undergo another procedure,” the young woman told Pear News. Xiao Chen paid 2800 RMB (±405US$) for the abortion.
The doctor allegedly told the girl she had cervical erosion and that she needed a second procedure for that, costing an additional 4000 RMB (±580US$). The college student told the media that she could not afford that amount of money and that she initially declined and told the doctor to stop the surgery altogether, but that the doctor hurt her until she agreed to go forwards.
When journalists went to interview the doctor, she denied the incident occurred and offered them a red envelope with money to keep the story out of the press. The envelope was declined by the journalists, who included the bribery incident in their report.
On Weibo, the report ignited a storm of criticism; but the discussion soon derailed with netizens discussing the fact that the girl had an abortion in the first place. “This is not about her having an abortion, it’s her life, this is about the hospital using these kind of violent measures to force people into agreeing for a procedure,” one person said.
“This doctor should be forced and never allowed to practice a medical profession again,” a typical comment read.
Hospital scandals frequently become trending topics on Chinese social media. In late 2016, the personal account of a young woman’s horrific plastic surgery experience, during which she was sexually molested by a doctor in Shanghai’s Ninth People’s Hospital, also went viral on Chinese social media.
On the website of Nanchang hospital its abortions are promoted as being “painless” (see featured image).
“This girl is really brave for coming out about what happened to her,” one person writes: “She needs to stand up for her rights.”
According to the People’s Daily, the hospital has promised to compensate the young woman for what has happened.
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