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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.

China Insight

Zhejiang Movie Theatre Displays Blacklisted Individuals in Avengers Movie Preview

A special ‘trailer’ before the Avengers movie premiere showed the audience blacklisted individuals.

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A local movie theatre in the city of Lishui, Zhejiang province, showed a noteworthy ‘trailer’ before the Avengers: End Game premiere on April 24.

Chinese state tabloid Global Times reports that the sold-out premiere had a ‘surprise’ moment just before the movie was about to start: a short Public Service Announcement by the Liandu district court of Lishui displayed people who are currently on a ‘debt dodging black list.’

The short film also informed the cinema audience of potential consequences of being on a blacklist, including no traveling abroad, and no traveling by air or on high-speed trains.

According to Global Times, the local district court has registered a total of 5478 people on its blacklist since 2018.

The names and faces of more than 300 people on this list have reportedly been displayed on cinema screens, public LED screens, and on buildings. Allegedly 80 of them have since complied with court orders.

As part of China’s emerging Social Credit system project, there are public court-issued lists of ‘trust-breaking enforcement subjects’ (信被执行人名单), referring to people or companies who have failed to comply with court orders.

Individuals on the judgment defaulter blacklist system run by the court system, whose information is publicized, can risk having their photos and names displayed on local LED screens on courthouses or other buildings (Dai 2018, 26).

Blacklisted individuals on a Wuxi building (via Phoenix News).

Beyond that, they will face restrictions in various ways, from being denied bank credit to being restricted from staying in high-end hotels or traveling by air.

On Weibo, the Global Times post on the noteworthy cinema preview received over 4000 shares. The same news was also reported by CCTV and Phoenix News.

Some commenters joke about the Public Service Announcement, saying: “Blacklisters [can now say]: Mum! I was on TV! On a big IMAX screen! Together with the Avengers!”

Others leave comments in support of the measure, calling it “creative,” and saying: “This is good, we should implement this all across the country.”

“Blacklisters should be displayed on all kinds of platforms.”

“This is for people to lose on their social credit,” another commenter writes: “If you don’t want to ‘socially die’ then just fulfill your duties.”

But not everyone agrees. “People are buying a movie ticket to see their film,” one person says: “They suddenly get exposed to this kind of content that has nothing to do with them, what about their rights as a consumer?”

By Manya Koetse

References

Dai, Xin, Toward a Reputation State: The Social Credit System Project of China (June 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3193577 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3193577 [5.3.19].

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

Chinese Construction Worker Left Jobless after Exposing the Dangers of Flimsy Safety Helmets

No one seems willing to hire the day laborer after he exposed the substandard quality of workers’ helmets.

Gabi Verberg

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A video of a Chinese construction worker showing the shocking difference in quality between the safety helmets of laborers versus those of their supervisors went viral on social media earlier this month. Chinese netizens praised the whistleblowers’ push for equal safety standards, but he is now left jobless and ignored.

On April 11, a Chinese day laborer by the name of Dou (窦) published a video on Kuaishou exposing the low-quality safety helmets for frontline construction workers.

In the video (embedded below), Dou shows two helmets. The yellow one, he claims, is the one worn by construction workers. The red one belongs to their supervisors. As he smashes the helmets together, Dou shows how the yellow one is immediately crushed, while the red one remains in perfect condition.

Dou’s message was simple and strong: the helmets worn by supervisors are of much higher quality than those of construction workers, exposing them to considerable dangers while working.

The video was viewed at least 100 million times and sparked major online discussions on the safety of Chinese construction workers before it was taken down from video platform Kuaishou on April 18.

At time of writing, the hashtag “The Contrast between the Safety Helmets of Workers and Supervisors” (#工人和领导安全帽对比#) has been viewed 250 million times on social media platform Weibo, where netizens have collectively expressed their sympathies for vulnerable laborers whose “safety first”, apparently, is not a priority at many construction sites.

The topic also made headlines in Chinese state media. State-owned broadcaster CCTV investigated the quality of Chinese safety helmets, and discovered that some available construction hats, priced as low as 4 RMB (0.59 U.S.$), did not meet safety standards.

A lawyer quoted by Global Times advocated that China’s relevant government departments should launch a campaign to crack down on “inferior helmets” and “clean up illegal products from the source.” The state-run newspaper also reported that workers wearing unsuitable helmets was “a norm in the construction industry,” according to an industry insider.

China’s Ministry of Emergency Management (中华人民共和国应急管理部) released a public statement on Weibo in response to the issue, reminding construction supervisors to abide by legal safety regulations.

But despite the overwhelming support for Dou, the day laborer is now left jobless and worried. In an interview with Chinese media outlet The Paper, Dou says that he can no longer find work since his video has gone viral: “I used to be able to find work every day,” he said: “Why can’t I find it now?”

In the interview, Dou suggests that his online fame over unequal safety helmet standards has made contractors afraid to hire him: “Even contractors that I used to work for are all declining my services.” The situation has left Dou, father to three children, in financial troubles that have forced him to return to his hometown.

When reporters asked Dou why his viral video and earlier videos exposing the flimsy quality of construction hats were taken offline, he reportedly answered: “I need to live.” Perhaps hoping to prevent further exclusion from the construction job market, Dou also claimed he had purchased the helmets in the video himself, and that his employer was not to blame.

 

In the first few years of our lives we learn how to speak, and then we spend the rest of our lives learning to stay quiet.”

 

News of Dou’s predicament has attracted the attention of netizens. Earlier this week, the hashtag “Flimsy Safety Helmet Man Responds” (#脆皮安全帽当事人回应#) received more than 180 million views on Weibo, with many commenters expressing their worries over Dou’s situation after addressing serious workplace safety issues.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “If this [unemployment] is the price you pay for speaking the truth, then who is willing to do so in the future?!” Another Weibo user wrote: “If you have nothing to hide, you’d have no problem hiring him.”

“In the first few years of our lives we learn how to speak, and then we spend the rest of our lives learning to stay quiet,” another commenter wrote.

Despite the public outcry against the injustice suffered by Dou, there are also those who point out that social media discussions can have an actual impact.

Some netizens referred to another incident that occurred last weekend when a video of a woman sitting on the hood of a brand-new Mercedes-Benz went viral.

The woman had just purchased the Mercedes, and as the car was still standing in the showroom, it was leaking oil. After the dealer told her that she had to pay for the repairs, she climbed on the hood of the vehicle and, in tears, refused to get down.

A video of her protest immediately went viral, and millions from all over the country expressed their support for the woman. In light of the public controversy, Mercedes launched an investigation and suspended the showroom for violating regulations.

On Weibo, many people take the Mercedes incident as an example of how justice can prevail as long as netizens unite. But whether the power of social media will also have a positive outcome for Dou is yet uncertain. “He probably won’t be able to find any work for the time to come,” some Weibo users predict.

UPDATE 25 APRIL: Shortly after publishing this article, the hashtag “Flimsy Safety Helmet Man Finds Work” (#脆皮安全帽当事人已找到工作#) has taken off on social media platform Weibo. Dou has received the help of a friend in finding work at a local construction site in Qingdao, the same city where he previously worked.

By Gabi Verberg, Manya Koetse

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