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“Why Boys?” – Sexual Abuse of Teenage Boys in Dalian School Shocks Chinese Netizens

A sexual abuse scandal at a top-rated private middle school in Dalian, China, has recently come to light. According to reports, one teacher consistently molested at least ten teenage boys over a period of two years. Chinese netizens are especially shocked that the teacher specifically targeted teenage boys rather than girls, exposing existing societal misconceptions about male victims of sexual abuse.

Manya Koetse

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A sexual abuse scandal at a top-rated private middle school in Dalian, China, has recently come to light. According to reports, a 43-year-old male teacher consistently molested teenage boys over a period of two years. Chinese netizens are shocked that the teacher specifically targeted teenage boys rather than girls, revealing existing misconceptions about male victims of sexual abuse in China.

At least ten boys from the third grade of Dalian’s renowned Ruige Junior Middle School (瑞格中学) have been sexually abused by their teacher over a period of two years, Chinese newspaper The Paper (澎湃新闻) reports.

The topic “Teacher Molests At Least Ten Boys” (#班主任猥亵十余男生#) became a top trending topic on Sina Weibo on August 5.

The children had told their parents about the abuse, but were not believed because it only concerned boys.

Teacher Li Chaoyuan (李朝元) repeatedly fondled and kissed students, exposing their private parts in front of the whole class. Victims told The Paper the teacher also took them home to do “disgusting things” with them. Middle school pupils in China on average are aged between 12 (first grade) and 15 (third grade). The teacher is a 43-year-old married man who is the father of two children. His wife was also employed at Ruige Middle School.

The case came to light when one of the school’s pupils told his parents about the abuse in January of this year. According to the boy [anonymous], the teacher would not just sexually abuse the other boys in the class, but would also violently beat them. It is still unclear how many boys fell victim to sexual harassment by the teacher. The girls in the class allegedly were not abused.

The Paper wrote on its Weibo account that other children had previously told their parents about the ongoing abuse, but that they were not believed because “it only concerned boys”.

Ruige Middle School (瑞格中学) is one of the most famous private schools of Dalian, a prosperous city and sea port in northeastern China. The school has around 1200 students and 110 teachers, both Chinese and foreign. School fees are 100,000 RMB (±15,000U$) per year.

In response to the sexual abuse scandal, the school board allegedly stated that the “class monitoring devices had broken”, and that they were not aware the teacher was “breaking the law”. They offered victims a compensation of 20,000 RMB (±3000US$) for their suffering, giving out higher amounts to the “more severe cases”.

Although teacher Li Chaoyuan was expelled from the school and has been taken into custody earlier this year, the court case has been delayed. Li is expected to go on trial this month.

“This is not about being gay, it is about being a pedophile.”

On Sina Weibo, many netizens are shocked to learn about the scandal. Especially the gender aspect seems to concern netizens, with many responding in disbelief to the fact that boys can become a victim of sexual abuse, and some bringing in homosexuality as a motive for the teacher’s actions.

“I always thought it was only girls who had to be vigilant, but now it turns out also the boys are in danger,” one netizen writes. “What a pervert this is,” another person comments: “Did he think it would be better to abuse boys than girls?”

“This is the result of more and more homosexuality in our society,” another netizen says.

“This is not about being gay,” another commenter responds: “this is about being a pedophile.”

Some netizens are concerned about homosexuality being mentioned as a motive: “If only news like this would not negatively influence perceptions about homosexuality,” one person responds.

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Other Weibo netizens try to set the record straight: “When girls are molested, they are often told that they did not protect themselves enough or that they are responsible for it. Fact is, both girls and boys can become a victim of abuse.”

“Until recently, male victims of rape could not turn to the criminal law for help, because their cases didn’t fit the legal definition of rape.”

It is rare for news about men becoming victims of sexual harassment to make headlines in China. In May of this year, Chinese media reported about a man falling victim to sexual harassment by a young woman on a bus. Female netizens responded to the issue in great numbers, using the occasion to turn the tables and sarcastically ‘blame’ the male passenger. The issue of ‘victim-blaming’ when women are sexually harassed is a recurring topic in Chinese social media.

Although female victims of abuse often face stigmatization and victim-blaming, male victims of abuse can face additional challenges because of existing social attitudes and misconceptions about masculinity, homosexuality, and male-on-male sexual abuse. As reported by China Daily in March of 2015, male victims of rape could not turn to the criminal law for help until recently, because their cases did not fit the legal definition of rape (Wang 2015). This also entailed that there were no laws banning male rape for boys over the age of 14.

This changed as recent as November 2015, when male rape officially became a crime in China. This means that the Dalian teacher could now face considerable time in jail – something that was impossible in the 2015 case of a Hebei teacher named Li Jian, who consistently tortured, molested and raped several teenage boys, but was only found guilty of “detaining” his students.

Many Chinese netizens stress that parents should believe their children when they tell them they are being abused, no matter if they are boys or girls. “This thing was able to go on because it was covered up by the school and parents would not believe their children,” one commenter says: “Believe what your children tell you. These kids have been suffering enough.”

– By Manya Koetse

References

Wang, Xiaoying. 2015. “Rape laws should cover male victims – expert.” China Daily, March 30 http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2015-03/30/content_19952532.htm [5.8.16]

©2016 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 Insight

“Chinese Spy Balloon” Versus “Chinese Civilian Airship” – The Chinese Words That Matter in the Balloon Incident

On Chinese social media, the Chinese balloon is seen as a weather device that ended up measuring the temperature of China-US relations.

Manya Koetse

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A day after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese balloon off the Carolina coast, the ‘balloon incident’ is a hot topic on Chinese social media, as official media are publishing about the incident and social media users are discussing it.

At 8:17 in the morning on Feb. 5, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its response to the shooting down of the Chinese balloon on Weibo.

They expressed “strong discontent and protest” over the American use of force to attack the “civilian unmanned airship” (民用无人飞艇) after Chinese officials recurringly informed the U.S. side that the balloon – described as a weather device, – had accidentally entered the U.S. and did not pose any threat to the U.S. whatsoever (#外交部就美方宣称击落中国无人飞艇发表声明#).

On Chinese social media, as also described in our earlier article on the incident, the balloon has come to be referred to as the “Wandering Balloon” (流浪气球) in the context of the box-office hit The Wandering Earth II.

At the same time, China celebrated the Lantern Festival (元宵节) which marks the first full moon of the Chinese New Year. It is tradition to eat glutinous rice balls and enjoy lanterns floating in the sky.

The balloon incident set the Chinese social media meme machine in motion, in which the balloon, The Wandering Earth II, and the Lantern Festival all came together in various images that circulated on Weibo and beyond.

The balloon, featured in ‘The Wandering Balloon’ movie produced by ‘US Government’, wishes everyone a happy Lanern Festival.

Another meme titled “Wandering Balloon” drawing comparisons between the ballloon and rice balls traditionally eaten during Lantern Festival.

The Weibo hashtags used to discuss the incident were mainly initiated by Chinese (state) media outlets, such as “The U.S. Side Claims to Have Shot Down Chinese Unmanned Airship” (#美方宣称击落中国无人飞艇#); “America Uses Military Force to Attack Civilian Unmanned Airship” (#美方宣称击落中国无人飞艇#); “The U.S. Side’s Insistence on Using Force Is Clearly an Overreaction” (#美方执意动用武力明显反应过度#).

“Is it a balloon or an airship? The American official and media side all claim it is a spying balloon; the Chinese side claims it is an civilian unmanned airship,” one blogger wrote, showing the different media contexts in which the incident is being discussed and emphasizing the importance of the vocabulary used.

Words matter, and at a time when there is a lot of speculation about the incident, the seemingly humorous way in which Chinese netizens have responded to the international dispute also relates to the language that is being used to describe the event.

On Chinese social media, the majority of commenters see the balloon as a weather device that went wandering and, unexpectedly, ended up measuring the temperature of Sino-American relations – which turned out to be icy cold.

Some examples of the kind of phrasing that matters in the Chinese media context:

Civilian Unmanned Airship
民用无人飞艇 Mínyòng Wúrén Fēitǐng

The balloon in question is described as a “civilian unmanned airship” in Chinese official and state media texts. The word ‘civilian’ (民用) is included in the clarification about the balloon being a civilian meteorological balloon, and thus not serving any military purposes (民用 ‘civilian’ versus 军用 ‘military’).

Attack [on] Civilian Unmanned Airship
袭击民用无人飞艇 Xíjí Mínyòng Wúrén Fēitǐng

The U.S. military shooting down the Chinese balloon is also phrased as an “attack” (袭击) in many Chinese media reports as well as in the official Foreign Ministry post.

Completely by Accident
完全是意外 Wánquán Shì Yìwài

The expressions “completely by accident” (完全是意外), “unexpected circumstances” (意外情况), and “force majeure” (不可抗力) are used in official Chinese media texts describing the balloon incident to underline that the circumstances in which the device floated into American skies was not only unrelated to military / government purposes, but that it was also unintentional.

Stay tuned for more updates.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Insight

Hot Air: Chinese Social Media Reactions to the Chinese Balloon Incident

The Chinese balloon incident is also referred to as the “Wandering Balloon” on social media at a time when ‘Wandering Earth II’ is trending.

Manya Koetse

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The 2023 “China balloon incident” has gotten so big over the past few days that it already has its very own Wikipedia page now.

On Feb. 2, 2023, it was announced that a Chinese “surveillance balloon” was traveling over the northern United States. Later, it was reported that a second Chinese balloon floated over Latin America.

As a consequence, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called off a scheduled visit to Beijing, calling the presence of the Chinese balloon “an irresponsible act.” The balloon has also been dubbed the “Chinese spy balloon.”

On Sunday morning after 4 AM China local time, news came out that the U.S. military had shot down the Chinese balloon off the Carolina coast after the coastal area of North and South Carolina had been closed for the national security operation.

In an earlier statement on Friday, Chinese officials referred to the balloon as a civilian “airship” (“飞艇”) used for weather monitoring and meteorological research that deviated from its original route due to the wind. The incident, therefore, is also described as the “Chinese Airship Incident” (“中国飞艇事件”) by Chinese media outlets.

On Chinese social media, the issue is referred to as “the balloon incident” (“气球事件”) or the “balloon problem” (“气球问题”), and many netizens think it is all about “making a big issue over nothing” (“小题大做”).

The balloon is also nicknamed “the wandering balloon” (流浪气球) in light of the current Chinese box office hit The Wandering Earth II. One of the hashtags used to discuss the events was “The Wandering Balloon II” (#流浪气球2#).

Chinese political commentator Hu Xijin, who frequently posts on social media, suggested earlier that the U.S. side allegedly is very well aware that the Chinese balloon – which accidentally went “wandering” – actually “poses no threat” and that ongoing reports about the balloon were purposely being used to create an anti-Chinese narrative.

Hu’s reasoning is similar to that of Chinese International Relations Professor Li Haidong (李海东), who claims that the balloon story is framed as a threat in order for the U.S. to gain an advantage in bilateral negotiations (#专家称美炒作气球事件对华施压#).

Following news reports about the Chinese balloon getting shot down, some Weibo commenters jokingly lamented that the “poor baby balloon” had been ruthlessly shot down without even getting the time to float around.

“Such a pity,” some wrote, with others suggesting it’s “just a stray balloon.”

One of the hastags used for online discussions of the balloon getting shot down was “The Wandering Balloon Is Shot Down” (#流浪气球被击落#) and “The ‘Wandering Balloon’ Gets Shot Down by American Military” (#流浪气球被击落#).

There are many online jokes about the incident, such as those saying that the Chinese people thought the sci-fi blockbuster Wandering Earth II was the current film hit and that they had not expected the ‘Wandering Balloon’ to be the actual hit of the moment.

The fact that the current Chinese balloon developments trigger so many online comparisons and memes related to the sci-fi film Wandering Earth II perhaps doesn’t come as a surprise, since the movie has been among the hottest trending topics of the past week, and considering its narrative is all about catastrophic events and the future of international society.

Others comment that since this is the time of the Chinese Lantern Festival (元宵节), celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese New Year, the incident is just another way of wishing everyone a happy new year.

All jokes aside, there are also bloggers who see the incident as a more serious occurrence at a time of worsening Sino-American relations, suggesting the significance of this matter “can’t be underestimated.”

For more updates on this story, see this article.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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