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Brutal Murder of Two Chinese Sisters in Japan Sets Social Media Abuzz

Manya Koetse

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The bodies of two Chinese sisters, aged 22 and 25, were discovered in Japan this week. Autopsy reports have established that the women died of strangulation. Police have arrested the main suspect: a 30-year-old married man from Japan who allegedly had an affair with one of the sisters. The brutal murder has stirred heated discussions on Chinese social media, with many calling the sisters ‘unpatriotic.’

On July 15, Japanese police confirmed the cause of death of two Chinese sisters who were found to be murdered. The two women had been missing in Japan for a week. According to the autopsy report that was released by the Kanagawa Prefectural Police, they died from strangulation.

The bodies of the two women were discovered in bags in the woods on the night of July 13 in the town of Hadano (秦野市) in Kanagawa. According to Japanese TV network TBS, the women were almost entirely naked when they were found.

The sisters Chen Baolan (陈宝兰, 25) and Chen Baozhen (陈宝珍, 22) both lived in Yokohama, about 34 miles away from the place where their bodies were found.

The Chinese embassy in Japan received an urgent rescue request after the father of the two women could not reach them since July 7. Afterwards, China’s foreign ministry urged Japanese police to solve the case.

Different Chinese news sources report that persons familiar with the sisters said that they suspected one of the frequent Japanese customers at the cafe where Chen Baolan worked – he allegedly was seen entering and exiting the women’s apartment on July 6 in the early morning.

Xinjing News reports on Weibo that a 30-year-old Japanese man has now been arrested by the Japanese police. He allegedly is a married man who had an affair with Chen Baolan. The case is currently under investigation.

The murder case has drawn a lot of attention on Chinese social media, where the topic ‘# Chinese sisters killed in Japan #’ (#中国籍姐妹在日本遇害#) became one of the top trending topics on July 15.

 

“When Chinese citizens travel to other countries, they must be vigilant.”

 

Murder cases of Chinese nationals abroad often receive much attention on social media sites such as Weibo. Earlier this year, the disappearance of Yingying Zhang, a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois, became a much-discussed topic. In 2016, the murder of Michelle Leng in Sydney also drew a lot of attention on social media.

The case of the two women in Kanagawa is especially noteworthy; not only because it involves the murder of two sisters, but also because it happened in Japan – a country that only has 0,3 cases of homicide in per 100,000 people.

Many people on Weibo are worried that Chinese people are just not safe when they go abroad, and that they are targeted for their nationality. “Why does it seem that when Chinese people go to other countries, they either go missing or die, while when foreigners come to China, such things rarely happen?”, some people say.

A commenter from Anhui writes: “First of all, I think that when Chinese citizens are killed in foreign countries, for whatever reason, China must get involved in the investigation to keep up our honor in the world. Second, when Chinese citizens travel to other countries, they must be vigilant. After all, we are not familiar enough with the political environment and social atmosphere of other countries. We must learn to protect ourselves. Lastly, I hope these sisters can rest in peace.”

 

“People saying these women deserved to be killed for going to Japan – don’t you know the Qing dynasty is over?”

 

But that is not the only reason why this case has attracted so much attention on Chinese social media. Netizens also blame the sisters for having an alleged love affair with a married Japanese man and for going to live in Japan, something that is considered ‘unpatriotic’ by many commenters. “I sympathize with the parents, but these sisters were up to no good,” some say.

One person on Weibo comments: “A lot of Chinese girls go abroad to show off their wealth to their friends in China and give themselves some kind of status by finding a foreign boyfriend. There are really many of these women, what kind of example are they setting?”

“Why on earth did they go to Japan? That’s where they were wrong to begin with,” another commenter said.

But there are also many people who condemn the tone of the online discussions of the case. “I am stunned by these people saying these women deserved to be killed for going to Japan – don’t you know the Qing dynasty is over?”

“All these stupid people who say ‘don’t go to Japan’ are actually not patriotic at all (..) A true patriot would never say such a thing,” one netizen writes.

“It really pains me to see so many fools in these comment sections,” one person writes: “People have died, people have been murdered, and then they are bullied on by their own fellow Chinese countrymen. This comes from brainless people – have some integrity!”

By Manya Koetse

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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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    john lee

    July 29, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    once again we thank the Communist Party of China for pointing out how evil Japan is. We also thank the Chinese Communist Party for pointing out that it is in the vanguard of stamping out prostitution in its country and for eliminating human trafficking. The great helms man Mao never indulged in prostitutes!

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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Books & Literature

“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors

Manya Koetse

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As news of The Bookworm’s closing makes its rounds on social media, Beijingers have responded in shock, mourning the loss of an iconic and meaningful meeting place for book(worm) lovers around the city.

The Bookworm Beijing, at Nansanlitun Road, is a bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space that has become a center of cultural exchange for Beijing’s foreign community since 2005.

The location is a beating heart of Beijing’s literary world; a place where writers, journalists, students, diplomats, academics, and all kinds of people – both foreign and Chinese – come together to exchange knowledge, read, and sit down for a glass of wine.

Today, the Bookworm announced its sudden closure via WeChat, writing:

It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease.”

The announcement further says that the location will be forced to suspend operations “most probably” as of Monday, November 11, and that the Bookworm will attempt to reorganize and find a new location.

News of the Bookworm’s closing has been becoming a topic of conversation on various social media sites from WeChat to Twitter and Weibo.

Famous Chinese journalist and author Luo Changping (罗昌平) writes on Weibo: “The Bookworm is forced to close! It used to be next door to my former office, and it was once like my living room. Sigh.”

Shanghai comedian Storm Xu called the closure of the Beijing Bookworm “the end of an era,” saying he looks back on many good memories there.

“They had many events, good food, special books; I used to go there a few times per year,” one person writes. “This really is so sad,” other Weibo users respond.

There are also various Weibo commenters who also mention that news of Bookworm’s closing comes just a day after the news that publisher of magazine-books and online bookseller Duku Books (读库) is forced to close its Beijing warehouse for the sixth time.

Over the past decade, many popular venues in Beijing have been forced to close their doors or relocate. Beijing hangouts such as Bed Bar, Salud, Vineyard Cafe, 2 Kolegas, Jiangjinjiuba, Mao Livehouse, Hercules, Aperativo, The Bridge Cafe, Great Leap Brewery Sanlitun, Jing-A Taproom 1949, and many others have all been closed over the past years.

Nightlife hotspot Sanlitun bar street was demolished and bricked up in 2017 as part of the mission of the city management to gentrify the area.

Changing Sanlitun in 2017.

The demolishment of “illegal structures” in the city has been an ongoing effort of the local government for years. These efforts became especially visible in late 2017 when people in Beijing’s Daxing area faced a large-scale evacuation campaign after a big fire broke out there on November 18, killing 19 people.

The large-scale evacuation campaign was also expanded to other areas of Beijing in a campaign by the municipal authorities aimed at unlicensed developments to target “illegal structures” and “buildings with potential fire hazards.”

But many people on Weibo and WeChat questioned if the campaign was actually more about politics than about safety concerns – something that was strongly refuted by state media outlets at the time.

These questions will remain unanswered, also for the Bookworm. Is its closure really about closing down an “illegal structure,” or are there more politically-motivated considerations playing a role here? On Weibo, some commenters say the location is closed down for being a home of free discussions and “free thinking,” while others say that no matter what the place is, the building’s safety and legal status is what matters here.

Perhaps the future will tell. We surely hope the Bookworm will soon pop up and open its doors in another location very soon.

Those who are interested can support the Bookworm by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted, until November 11.

By Manya Koetse

Images: Bookworm images by The Bookworm, edited by What’s on Weibo.
Sanlitun Image: Might have been taken by Manya in Beijing 2017, but we’re not 100% sure so let us know if we’re mistaken.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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