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How Could a Cancer Patient’s ‘Crazy Shopping Spree’ Become the Subject of Ridicule on Weibo?

A trending story about a rich woman allegedly spending $600,000 during a shopping spree in a Sichuan mall has taken an unexpected turn.

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A story that went trending on Chinese social media this week about a rich woman spending $600,000 during a shopping expedition in a Sichuan mall has taken an unexpected turn. Family members have stepped forward to deny the rumors, and say the woman is suffering from brain cancer. She went missing after photos of her shopping spree went viral.

A young woman from Sichuan caught the attention of netizens on Weibo this week when images emerged of her extravagant shopping spree. Some people on Chinese social media alleged the woman had spent at least 4 million yuan (±600,000$) in one day.

The photos and videos, taken by bystanders, show the woman’s growing pile of shopping bags at the Wangfujing Shopping Mall in Chengdu on Sunday night. Dressed in a pink coat, the woman can be seen purchasing various items while being assisted by a group of employees at the mall’s boutique brand stores.

The woman was ridiculed on Weibo when she attracted the attention of netizens during her shopping spree.

She was called the “pink lady” on Weibo, with some saying: “We’ll never understand the tuhao.” Tuhao (土豪) is a popular word to describe China’s ‘uncultured’ nouveau riche.

Some netizens suggested that the woman was from a rich family and purposely spent large amounts of money to take revenge on her husband after having an argument. The story was spread on social media with the hashtag: “Woman spends thousands of dollars after fighting with husband” #女子和老公吵架商场狂刷上百万#).

 

They do not care about the fight, they do not care about the frantic shopping, they just care about the thought that money is the answer to anything.”

 

After rumors of the woman’s shopping spree made their rounds on Weibo on October 23, family members of the woman came forward, saying that the woman was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and that she has gone missing since Monday. They told Chinese media that they fear she might be suicidal.

Family members also dispelled the trending rumors about the woman and the alleged extravagant amount of money she spent. They say her bank records show that she only spent 50.000 yuan (±7530$), rather than the alleged 4 million yuan.

 

FAKE NEWS: rumors about the woman were dispelled earlier this week.

 

The truth behind the trending topic shocked many commenters. “How could the ‘crazy shopping spree’ of a cancer patient be ridiculed by the masses?”, one Chinese blogger wondered.

“This is not the first time these kinds of carelessly fabricated and exaggerated rumors make it on social media, and it won’t be the last time,” the Weibo blogger nicknamed ‘Listen Up’ (@青听我说) writes.

‘Listen Up’ argues that the masses, craving for material wealth, are so obsessed with the extravagant behavior of China’s ‘crazy rich’ that they will feverishly make up any “fake news” when the facts are lacking:

“The majority of onlookers really don’t care about the reasons behind the ‘crazy shopping spree’ or about the true amount of money spent. From their point of view, the more they exaggerate the story and the bigger the amount of money, the more excited they get.”

“At the same time, it is also about self-pity. It is about ‘look at her, she can max out her credit card when she’s having trouble at home, while I would have to return to my parents in my hometown.'”

The writer notes that there is a powerful mass hysteria bubble when it comes to news about China’s rich; people do not care that this woman might have had a fight, they do not even care about her frantic shopping, they just care about the thought that money is the answer to anything.

“A woman, who was just diagnosed with cancer, is distraught and goes shopping. Even if her spending 50,000 yuan might go against logic, it is something to understand and to sympathize with. In this case, it is the onlookers who have to be ashamed of themselves.”

“In the eyes of the masses, everything has become ‘entertainment’ now. Too often, they do not look at the facts, they do not question the what & how, and they do not investigate the outcome. They just want to satisfy a temporary crave for some excitement, and it doesn’t matter what it is. This is not just harmful to the persons involved and who become the target of ridicule, it is also harmful to yourself because eventually, it is really your own life that is becoming ridiculous.”

 

Money has become the sole criterion by which they judge the world.

 

Writer Zeng Li recently noted on sixthtone.com that for many Chinese, “money has become the sole criterion by which they judge the world.”

As Chinese economy is growing, so is the gap between social classes. According to Zeng Li, a so-called ‘chain of contempt’ (鄙视链) is at work in Chinese society, where – like a food chain – there is a hierarchy of social layers where certain groups of people always look down on the other. On top of the chain are China’s rich and successful people.

But on Chinese social media, it is apparent that China’s ‘tuhao‘ or ‘filthy rich’ are also frequently mocked and despised, even if it might come with some sense of envy and self-pity as suggested by the ‘Listen Up’ blogger.

Some of the crazy rich stories that go trending online are a source of much hilarity, like a fancy tuhao car that gets stuck in the mud of a rural area – literally becoming a ‘filthy rich’ car.

This tuhao’s fancy car got stuck in the mud.

But people seem to be so hungry for “crazy rich” stories that they easily add to the hysteria by making up facts – soon turning one event into a completely different story.

 

She’s gone missing because of you.”

 

It is unsure if the woman, whose identity has not been revealed, has been found yet. According to insiders, before her disappearance, the woman was informed that her shopping spree had gone viral on Weibo and WeChat and was very unhappy about it.

On Weibo, many netizens now express their anger over the situation: “She just spent some money, so what? Now she’s gone missing because of you – the internet is a bad place,” some netizens write.

“Even if she had spent in fact 4 million yuan, then what’s it to you?,” another person commented: “She just spent 50,000 yuan and you all stand in a circle, watch her, and take pictures. Would you take pictures of other people spending money?”

Despite the support for the woman, there are also many people who are still wondering if she did in fact spent 50,000 yuan or more.

“What’s wrong with you people?”, some answer: “The only thing that matters is that she returns home safely.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

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

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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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China Insight

The Day After the “3•21” Devastating Yancheng Explosion: 47 Dead, 640 Injured

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The enormous explosion at a chemical plant in Jiangsu’s Yancheng on March 21st has sent shockwaves through the country. While state media are focusing on the efforts of rescue workers, Chinese social media users are mourning the lives lost and are searching for those still missing.

One day after a devastating explosion occurred at a chemical plant in Yancheng city in Jiangsu, at the Xiangshui Eco-chemical Industrial Zone, the number of confirmed casualties and injured has now gone up to 47 dead, 90 critically injured, with around 640 requiring hospital treatment (issued Friday 19.00 local time).

The explosion happened on Thursday around 14.48 local time at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Plant (天嘉宜化工厂). Images and videos of the explosion and its aftermath quickly spread on Weibo and other social media, showing the huge impact of the blast.

Site of the explosion.

Footage showed shattered windows from buildings in the area and injured persons lying on the streets. Other videos showed children crying and blood on the pavements. There are residential areas and at least seven schools located in the vicinity of the chemical plant, leading to injuries among residents and students due to glass that was allegedly “flying around.”

According to official sources on Weibo, a total of 930 firefighters worked side by side to control the fire.

Trending photo on Friday: exhausted firefighters.

The hashtag “Lining Up to Donate Blood in Xiangshui” (#响水市民自发排队献血#) also attracted some attention on Weibo, with state media reporting that dozens of local residents have donated blood to help the injured. On Thursday night, there were long lines at a local mobile blood donation bus.

What is quite clear from the Chinese media reports on the incident and the social media posts coming from official (authorities) accounts, is that there is an emphasis on the number of people who are helping out, rather than a focus on the number of people that were killed: there are at least 930 firefighters, 192 fire trucks, 9 heavy construction machinery, 200 police officers, 88 people rescued, 3500 medical staff, 200 people donating blood, etc. – the number of people joining forces to provide assistance in the area is overwhelming.

Meanwhile, there are desperate family members who are turning to social media in search of loved ones, posting their photos and asking people if they know anything about their whereabouts since the explosion.

While dozens of Weibo users are airing their grievances on what happened, there are also more personal stories coming out. The wife of the local factory worker Jiang is devastated; her husband of four years, father of one son, celebrated his 30th birthday on Thursday. She received a message from her husband twenty minutes before the explosion occurred. He was one of the many people who lost their lives.

On Thursday, Chinese netizens complained that their posts about the Yancheng explosion were being taken offline, suggesting that information flows relating to the incident are being strictly controlled. “This is just too big to conceal,” one commenter said.

This is not the first time such an explosion makes headlines in China. In 2015, an enormous explosion at a petrol storage station in Tianjin killed 173 people and caused hundreds of people to be injured. Two years ago, an explosion at a Shandong petrochemical plant left 13 people dead.

By Manya Koetse 

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©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 Local News

Breaking: Jiangsu Yancheng Chemical Plant Explosion

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Update: The Day After the Explosion

On March 21st at about 14.48 local time, an explosion occurred at a chemical plant in Yancheng city in Jiangsu.

At time of writing, the news has become a top trending topic on social media site Weibo, where the hashtag “Jiangsu Yancheng Chemical Plant Explosion” (#江苏盐城化工厂爆炸#) has attracted some 100 million views.

The explosion, that occurred at the Xiangshui Eco-chemical Industrial Zone, was followed by a 2.2 earthquake at 14.48 local time in Jiangsu’s Lianyungang.

According to Sixth Tone, people who have been injured during the incident have been sent to a local hospital.

Footage published by WeMedia show the impact of the massive explosion, with shattered windows from buildings in the area, and showing at least one injured person lying on the street.

Other videos on social media show injured people lining up at the hospital, chaos, and wounded people lying on the street (Twitter link here and here).

According to the official account of China’s Fire Control Department (@中国消防), 31 persons were rescued from the scene around 17.00 local time, when a total of 188 firefighters were present at the scene.

According to various media reports, the chemical plant where the explosion happened is the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Plant (天嘉宜化工厂). The official website says that the Tianjiayi company was founded in 2007 and has over 280 staff members.

China’s Emergency Management Department (@中华人民共和国应急管理部), that was established in 2018, issued a post on Weibo at the beginning of the evening, stating that expert teams were rushed to the scene to assist local authorities in their rescue operations.

This is not the first time such an explosion makes headlines in China. In 2015, an enormous explosion at a petrol storage station in Tianjin injured hundreds of people. Two years ago, an explosion at a Shandong petrochemical plant left 8 persons dead and 9 people injured.

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported that the number of casualties at the Yancheng site are still unknown. Phoenix News reports that as of 19.00 local time, at least 6 people are confirmed to have died, with 30 people being critically injured. (UPDATE MARCH 22 SEE HERE).

On Weibo, people are sharing their concern for the people injured during the explosions, and are also expressing their worries on what exactly caused the explosion and what kind of chemicals people may have been exposed to.

“There are many residential areas and schools near the site of the explosion,” one official account on Weibo writes: “There’s a kindergarten some 1,1 kilometers away, and children have been injured. According to eyewitnesses, residents were injured because of the glass flying around.”

Sina News reports that there are at least seven schools in the vicinity of the explosion (see image below).

A live-streaming report by Tencent News, Beijing News, and WeMedia shows that at around 20.00 local time, the fire at the site of the explosion is still blazing, with a strong wind picking up.

Meanwhile, on Weibo, some netizens are complaining that footage of the explosion is being deleted from the social media platform, while others are disgruntled that residential areas and schools would be located so close to a chemical plant.

“I really wish the people there are safe and sound,” dozens of commenters say, posting praying emoji: “It is just so scary, I hope there won’t be any more casualties.”

By Manya Koetse 

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

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

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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