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Charity Marketing on WeChat: Father Cashes In On Sick Daughter

A father raising over 290,000 US$ in donations for his sick daughter via Chinese social media triggered controversy after netizens revealed he did not actually need this money at all.

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A father raising over 290,000 US$ in donations for his sick daughter via Chinese social media triggered controversy after netizens revealed he did not actually need this money at all.

The story of Luo Yixiao, a 5-year-old Chinese girl diagnosed with leukemia, whose father’s diary went viral with over 100,000 views in merely half a day on Chinese social media app Wechat, has been reported as a cyber marketing strategy only 5 days after it went viral. Chinese netizens’ heated debates again reveal existing dilemmas about charity marketing online.

The article, titled “Luo Yixiao, stay where you are!”, disclosed a father’s grief and helplessness in face of his daughter’s disease. It helped father Luo Er (罗尔) gain 2.7 million RMB (±391,800 US$) in donations since November 25.

The post was published on Luo Er’s own Wechat account, where other several pieces also exposed the family’s struggle with illness and medical fees.

littleluo

However on November 30, only 5 days after Luo’s post went viral, other posts came up on Chinese social media that indicated Luo’s attempt might be a planned marketing campaign. The news stirred netizens’ rage on Sina Weibo.

Netizens revealed that Luo currently owns 3 apartments and 2 cars, and that most of his daughter’s medical bills were already covered by insurance. Luo is now blamed for cheating those who gave donations, and for using an ill child for his own benefit – which also negatively influences the fate of those children in China facing illness who really have no means to bear medical costs.

Shady Charity

Various sources on Chinese social media claim that Luo was collaborating with a financial marketing company that every repost of the article from the company’s public account would be awarded 1 RMB (±0.15US$).

The number of tips given on the WeChat app quickly reached 50,000 RMB (±7255 US$), the maximum amount allowed by WeChat per article per day. This limit then led to people giving money to Luo Er individually through his own account; he received over 2 million RMB (±290,250US$) in tips within a time frame of 2 hours.

In response to netizens claiming that Luo received much more money than he actually needed, Shenzhen Children’s Hospital, where Luo’s daughter is under treatment, publicized his daughter’s invoice, which stated that Luo only spent 36,000 RMB (±5225 US$) on three months of treatment.

Luo spoke to Chinese media about the money he received, and told Beijing News that he would return the money if anyone felt betrayed by him. He also claimed that the reason he could not sell his own apartments was the high mortgage price, and not his own unwillingness.

However, many netizens deem it is clear that Luo and the company allegedly helping his daughter were hiding information about Luo’s financial situation and exaggerating the child’s illness, even using religion as a tool to win more sympathy from netizens.

Later on, the focus of the online debate shifted to the question of whether Luo should give the received money to charity, and to the overall problem of immoral charity marketing.

A “Coldhearted” Society That Donated 2.7 Million RMB

Pressured by the media, Luo Er accepted an video interview on November 30, in which he cried: “I’m so desperate…Nobody cares about my daughter…everybody only wonders if I’m a liar.” A Chinese netizen commented accordingly: “True, this is a coldhearted society that has donated over 2.7 million RMB for your daughter.”

The mixed reactions of Chinese netizens expose the dilemma on charity marketing; one group claims that nobody has the right to judge Luo Er for making use of the online possibilities to raise money, while the other group insists that Luo’s behavior is immoral. They say that Luo abused his professional power as an experienced media and marketing writer to cheat the public.

Many claim that it is obvious Luo did not make his child’s illness a top priority since he did not make use of his own possibilities, such as selling his belongings, before asking help from the online community. Other netizens used Luo’s example to further question the charity system and charity laws in China.

Debate over WeChat Charity

The option for large-scale donations via the Wechat ‘Wallet’ platform has been under discussion for some time. Last year, All China Tech reported that a new charity law was to be put into effect that would ban public donation campaigns initiated by unauthorized parties after recurring cases of fraud.

But the legislation did not ban persons from privately seeking help online. Besides, the tip function in Wechat is not regulated since the money does not directly transfer to the receivers’ bank account and there is no official invoice.

Amid controversy, Tencent, the company that owns Wechat, officially responded on December 1st that it had reached an agreement with Luo that his “tips” would be fully refunded to the original donators by the end of Saturday, December 3rd.

wechat

WeChat announcement on the Luo case.

A number of Weibo users welcomed this decision, while some still expressed their sympathy for Luo’s daughter and the many other children who suffer from the similar conditions: “No matter what the truth is, the child is innocent. We wish her good health and hope she will remain strong in this complicated world!”

– By Yue Xin
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This article has been edited by Manya Koetse
©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Yue Xin is a bilingual freelance journalist currently based in the Netherlands with a focus on gender issues and literature in China. As a long-time frequent Weibo user, she is specialized in the buzzwords and hot topics on Chinese social media.

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China Comic & Games

China’s Latest Online Viral Game Makes You Clap for Xi Jinping

Smart propaganda – now clapping for Xi Jinping has become a competition.

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In a new online game that has come out during the 19th National Congress in Beijing, Chinese netizens can compete in applauding for Xi Jinping. The game has become an online hit.

The major 19th CPC National Congress started on Wednesday in Beijing with a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping that took nearly 3,5 hours.

The speech, that focused on China’s future and its rise in the world today, was repeatedly paused for the appropriate applause from the party members in the audience.

With the introduction of a new game by Tencent, people can now also clap along to Xi Jinping’s speech from their own living room. The game became an online hit on October 18. It was already played over 400 million times by 9 pm Beijing time.

The mobile game can be opened through a link that takes you to a short segment of the lengthy speech by Xi Jinping. In the short segment, President Xi mentions that it is the mission of the Communist Party of China to strive for the happiness and the rise of the Chinese people.

The app then allows you “clap” for Xi by tapping the screen of your phone as many times as you can within a time frame of 18 seconds. After completing, you can invite your friends to play along and compete with them.

The game has become especially popular on WeChat, where some users boast that they have scored a ‘clap rate’ of 1695.

If you’re up to it, you can try to clap as much as you can for Xi Jinping here (mobile only).
(Update Friday, October 20: the game link now redirects to the Tencent News site themed around the 19th Party Congress through desktop. On mobile, the game still works, and has been played over 1,2 billion times.)

With a score of 1818 you’re better than 99% of all players.

By Manya Koetse and Diandian Guo

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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China Digital

This Digital Device Now Helps Chinese Police Catch Traffic Violators

After RoboCop, here’s Guardrail Drone: this high-tech device makes it easier and safer for Chinese police to catch traffic violators.

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A new digital device makes it easier and safer for Chinese police to catch traffic violators. A local experiment with the police gadget proved successful earlier this year.

From now on, it might no longer be the police that warns drivers to drive slowly through construction zones or to get off the emergency lane. A new digital device can now help Chinese traffic police to send out warnings or to catch people violating traffic rules.

The automated device can be placed on the guardrail and is directly connected to the smartphone of the police officer controlling it. Through the camera on the device, the police can see when someone is driving on the emergency lane and can send out police warning signs and sounds through the speakers on the device.

On Chinese social media, a video on how the device works has been making its rounds over the past few days. Some netizens say the new device is just “awesome,” and others warn drivers not to use the traffic lane; the chances of getting caught are now bigger because of the police’s new helper.

The device was first successfully tested locally in May of this year at a Zhejiang Expressway, NetEase’s Huang Weicheng (黄唯诚) reported in July of this year.

Earlier in 2017, police also experimented with a new police robot, jokingly called ‘Robocop’ by netizens, to help police catching fugitives and answer questions from people at the train station.

In our latest Weivlog we will tell you all about this ‘guardrail drone’; how it works and where it has been implemented:

By Manya Koetse

NB: Please attribute What’s on Weibo when quoting from this article.
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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