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“Calling a Rat a Duck”: Jiangxi Students Discover Rat Head in Meal, School Insists It’s Duck (Updated)

Following the finding of a rat head in a cafeteria meal, this school maintains that it was actually a duck head, urging students not to discuss “rat head gate.”

Manya Koetse



Updated June 18, 2023

A topic about a student finding a rodent head inside his school canteen meal received a staggering 310 million views on Weibo this Wednesday (#高校鼠头事件涉事窗口几乎没人去吃饭#).

The incident occurred some days ago in Nanchang at a school canteen of the Jiangxi Vocational Technical College of Industry Trade. A video showing what looks like a mouse or rat head in someone’s rice meal has been circulating on Chinese social media since.

When the person who found the rodent head in his meal complained to the catering staff, they insisted that it was not a rat head, but rather a duck head or neck. In the video, the person can be heard arguing, “This is a rat! It clearly has rat teeth, can’t you see?”

Duck head or duck neck are popular dishes in many parts of China. But it was not what the person ordered, and the unexpected bite also did not look like duck.

On June 3rd, the Jiangxi college debunked the “rat incident” rumors and stated that it was, in fact, a duck head. The following day, the local food supervision bureau also alleged that it was not a rat, but duck meat.

According to Henan Business Newspaper (河南商报), students at the school were reminded by staff not to discuss the incident on the internet (#学生透露高校禁止发布鼠头事件相关言论#).

Meanwhile, the official catering company contracted by the Jiangxi Vocational Technical College of Industry Trade issued a statement clarifying that they were not involved in the “rat head incident.” The incident occurred at a separate Chinese fast-food stall within the Qingshanhu campus (青山湖校区) canteen, which is not operated by Jinghe Food & Beverage (菁禾餐饮), which is the contracted company.

In what appears to be an effort to further stifle the inconvenient issue, they issued a warning, stating that individuals spreading rumors about their company would face consequences (#菁禾餐饮再次声明非鼠头事件承包方#).

According to students at the college, the involved stall has been running its business as usual since the incident happened. But the cafetaria has been more quiet as students are avoiding eating there. Many people choose to order takeout instead and have it delivered directly to their dormitory building.

Some netizens are diving deeper into this incident to prove that the meal actually did contain a rodent head and not duck. A Weibo blogger named Jianghu Lifuxiang (@江湖李傅相) posted a photo comparing the ‘foreign object’ in the meal to a rodent head.

Rodents will be rodents, not ducks. Image posted on Weibo.

The blogger writes:

The ‘is it a rat head or a duck neck’ incident (“鼠头or鸭脖”事件) has been fermenting online for several days now. But the most significant issue at hand is no longer about it being a rat or a duck, but about the school and the related departement treating the students and the public as fools.

Discovering a rat head while eating is not [even] the scariest part. What is truly frightening is that the public clearly sees a “rat head,” yet they insist on claiming it to be a “duck neck.” If it’s really a rat head, it would be better to calmly admit it. At most, this would be a food safety incident and one or two temporary workers might get sacked and a fine could be imposed, and that would be it.

The current situation is that the school confirms the foreign object [“异物”] to be a duck neck and makes the students to also confirm it’s a duck. Even the local food supervision leaders have come forward to testify that it is a duck neck.

The way that the school and the food supervision bureau have handled this matter is in complete opposition to the public and it is a provocation of social morality, completely inverting right and wrong and disregarding public trust in order to protect the “innocence” of one or two individuals. I wonder if these leaders are actually so stupid or if netizens are too naive.

One Weibo user posts an image of duck neck and duck head besides the image of the mouse head.

There is a famous Chinese idiom, zhǐ lù wéi mǎ 指鹿为马, that translates to “calling a deer a horse” (or calling a stag a horse) in English, meaning to misrepresent something. The phrase comes from a story about the corrupt eunuch and minister Zhao Gao (赵高) during the Qin Dynasty who brought a deer to the second emperor, presenting it as a “horse.” Fearful to disagree with him, many people followed him and also identified the animal as a horse. In light of this phrase, some are now changing the idiom to “calling a rat a duck” (zhǐ shǔ wéi yā 指鼠为鸭) instead.

Calling a rat a duck, posted by @法律指南.

One Weibo commenter jokingly wrote:

“Students: “It’s a rat”
Leadership: “It’s duck neck”
Students: “It’s a rat”
Leadership: “Graduation certificate.”
Student: “It’s duck neck.”

The duckrat, posted on Zhihu.

“Controlling public sentiment is difficult, and it requires some expertise,” some write, with others describing the entire affair as ‘simply bizzare.’

“You’re all so focused on the head,” another person wrote, “don’t you wanna know where the rest of it went?”

Update: On June 10, Jiangxi authorities announced that they have established an investigative task force to further look into the incident. Their findings will soon be released to the public (#江西就鸭脖事件成立联合调查组#).

Update 2: On June 17, an official report was released regarding the “June 1st Food Safety Incident.” After reviewing video footage, examining purchase records, and conducting related investigations, local authorities have determined that the “foreign object” found in the cafeteria meal more than two weeks ago was, in fact, a rodent’s head and not a duck neck.

Jiangxi Vocational Technical College is being held accountable for the incident, although the specific legal consequences have not been specified at this time.

The conclusion of the incident has not put an end to the online discussions; if anything, it has amplified them. There are now further inquiries as to why it took an entire research team to confirm what was already known to the public. People are also questioning why the school insisted that the mouse head was a duck’s neck and whether corruption played a role.

Most importantly, individuals want to know what happened to the rest of the rodent and whether everyone who ate at the cafeteria stall on June 1st unknowingly consumed rat meat.

By now, the entire incident has transcended the rat versus duck debate. It has become a symbol of bureaucratic inefficiency, power play, public deception, and the wastage of resources on senseless investigations.

Illustration of a rat wearing a red armband (for surveillance/inspection), shared via Chinese social media after the official statement on the rat head.

“It took them half a month to handle such a trivial matter. They attempted to silence and confuse. If they could brush it off, everything is fine. If not, they can feign ignorance,” wrote one Weibo user.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of 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 Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Zara Dress Goes Viral in China for Resemblance to Haidilao Apron

Who’s gonna buy this Zara dress in China? “I’m afraid that someone will say I stole the apron from Haidilao.”

Manya Koetse



A short dress sold by Zara has gone viral in China for looking like the aprons used by the popular Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao.

“I really thought it was a Zara x Haidialo collab,” some customers commented. Others also agree that the first thing they thought about when seeing the Zara dress was the Haidilao apron.

The “original” vs the Zara dress.

The dress has become a popular topic on Xiaohongshu and other social media, where some images show the dress with the Haidilao logo photoshopped on it to emphasize the similarity.

One post on Xiaohongshu discussing the dress, with the caption “Curious about the inspiration behind Zara’s design,” garnered over 28,000 replies.

Haidilao, with its numerous restaurants across China, is renowned for its hospitality and exceptional customer service. Anyone who has ever dined at their restaurants is familiar with the Haidilao apron provided to diners for protecting their clothes from food or oil stains while enjoying hotpot.

These aprons are meant for use during the meal and should be returned to the staff afterward, rather than taken home.

The Haidilao apron.

However, many people who have dined at Haidilao may have encountered the following scenario: after indulging in drinks and hotpot, they realize they are still wearing a Haidilao apron upon leaving the restaurant. Consequently, many hotpot enthusiasts may have an ‘accidental’ Haidilao apron tucked away at home somewhere.

This only adds to the humor of the latest Zara dress looking like the apron. The similarity between the Zara dress and the Haidilao apron is actually so striking, that some people are afraid to be accused of being a thief if they would wear it.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “The most confusing item of this season from Zara has come out. It’s like a Zara x Haidilao collaboration apron… This… I can’t wear it: I’m afraid that someone will say I stole the apron from Haidilao.”

Funnily enough, the Haidilao apron similarity seems to have set off a trend of girls trying on the Zara dress and posting photos of themselves wearing it.

It’s doubtful that they’re actually purchasing the dress. Although some commenters say the dress is not bad, most people associate it too closely with the Haidilao brand: it just makes them hungry for hotpot.

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

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.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Food & Drinks

Where to Eat and Drink in Beijing: Yellen’s Picks

From Yunnan classics to fusion cuisine, these are Janet Yellen’s picks for dining and drinking in Beijing.

Manya Koetse



Janet Yellen, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, seems to have some excellent advisors, at least when it comes to choosing spots for food and drinks in Beijing.

Yellen just concluded her second trip to Beijing within a year, and once again, it’s not her official talks but rather her choices in food and drink venues that are sparking discussion on social media.

Her initial visit to Beijing was in July 2023, during which she held meetings with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other officials.

This time, from April 4th to 9th, Yellen’s agenda included engagements with top Chinese officials in both Guangzhou and Beijing. The primary focus was on addressing ongoing bilateral tensions and managing trade relations between the US and China. In addition to official meetings, Yellen also met up with students and business leaders.

Yellen’s selection of bars and restaurants drew interest online. Yellen is known to be a food enthusiast, and likes to visit local restaurants wherever she goes.

In Guangzhou, Yellen dined at Taotaoju (陶陶居), a renowned Cantonese restaurant where she had roast goose and shrimp dumplings.

If you’re curious about the places she visited in Beijing during her first and second trip, check out our short ‘Yellen’s Beijing’ list below.


‘In & Out’ Yunnan Restaurant

Yellen at Yizuo Yiwang, photos via Weibo.

● Name: ‘In and Out’ in English, Chinese name: Yī Zuò Yī Wàng 一坐一忘

● Specialty: Yunnan cuisine

● Notable: Yellen visited this local favorite near Beijing’s embassy area in the summer of 2023. Among other things, Yellen was served spicy potatoes with mint and stir-fried mushrooms, leading to online jokes about how the food would affect her. The mushroom dish that she had is called jiànshǒuqīng (见手青), which literally means “see hand blue”, in reference to turning blue when handled. It is the lanmaoa asiatica mushroom species that grows in China’s Yunnan region known for its hallucinogenic properties (when treated and cooked properly, they don’t cause hallucinations read more here). After Yellen’s visit, ‘In & Out’ used it as part of their marketing strategy and the restaurant released a special ‘Treasury Menu’ (or ‘God of Wealth’ Menu 财神菜单), promoting themselves as the first place where Yellen had dinner during her Beijing visit.

● Price: Dishes range from 38 yuan ($5) to 298 yuan ($41)

● Address: Chaoyang, Sanlitun Beixiaojie 1 / 朝阳区三里屯北小街1号


Grand Hyatt’s ‘Made in China’

Yellen’s lunch at the Grand Hatt, image via Weibo.

● Name: ‘Made in China’ in English, Chinese name: Cháng’ān Yī Hào 长安壹号餐厅

● Specialty: Northern Chinese cuisine, including Peking duck / Fusion

● Notable: This is the venue where Yellen had lunch with a group of female economists and entrepreneurs in July of 2023 (you can see the speech she gave during lunch here). She apparently likes this restaurant a lot, since she visited it again for dinner on April 8 of this year. For her 2023 lunch, we know that Yellen ordered steamed fish head with chopped pepper (剁椒鱼头). The famous Hunan dish was among the most expensive dishes on a special menu (850 yuan/$117) for Yellen’s visit at the time. This time around, she also had Peking Duck. The award-winning Made in China restaurant, which is simply called “Chang’an no 1” in Chinese (after its address, 长安壹号餐厅), has been around for two decades, and the Beijing head chef Jin Qiang has been there from the start – he has since welcomed numerous heads of state and government leaders from around the world.

● Price: Appetizers start from 58 yuan ($8), seafood dishes around 500 yuan (69 yuan), Peking Duck 388 yuan ($53)

● Address: Grand Hyatt, Dongcheng, 1 East Chang’An Avenue / 东长安街1号东方广场


Lao Chuan Ban

Yellen at Chuan Ban, image via Dianping.

● Name: Chuan Ban, Chinese name: 川办餐厅 aka ‘Lao Chuan Ban’ (Old Chuan Ban 老川办)

● Specialty: Sichuan food

● Notable: Chuan Ban, established as part of the Sichuan provincial government office and open to the public since 1995, is renowned for its authentic Sichuan cuisine. During her visit to Beijing, Yellen and her group dined at this famous restaurant on April 6 this year. They enjoyed a variety of dishes including Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐), Sichuan-style cold noodles (四川凉面), clear noodles in chili sauce (川北凉粉), smashed cucumber salad (拍黃瓜), and Zhong dumpings in spicy sauce (钟水饺).

● Price:Dumplings for 18 yuan ($2.5), beef noodles for 16 yuan ($2.2), salt and pepper shrimp for 46 yuan ($6.3), fried lamb chops for 188 yuan ($26) – there’s something for everyone in different price ranges.

● Address: Dongcheng, 5 Gongyuan Toutiao, Jianguomennei Dajie / 东城区建国门内贡院头条5号


Jing-A Brewery

Yellen having a beer, image via Weibo.

● Name: Jing-A Brewery, Chinese name: 京A

● Specialty: Craft beer

● Notable: After five days of meetings during her 2024 China visit, Janet Yellen enjoyed a beer together with US ambassador Nicholas Burns at Jing-A, a brewery founded by wo Beijing-based American friends in 2012. In one of her tweets, Yellen explained that the microbrewery imports American hops for their beers — “a small representation of how the U.S.-China bilateral economic relationship can benefit both sides” (link).

● Price:Beers starting at 35 yuan ($4.8), snack dishes starting at 58 yuan ($8)

● Address: Jing-A Brewpub Xingfucun, Chaoyang, 57 Xingfucun Zhong Lu, Chaoyang, Beijing / 朝阳区幸福村中路57号

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

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.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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