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Chinese Experts Join Rescue Mission for Thai Soccer Team Trapped in Cave [UPDATED: FOUND SAFE!]

Rescue workers are still hopeful to find the Thai soccer team that has been missing for six days.

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Photo via @CGTN on Weibo.

A team of Chinese cave experts have joined the search for a Thai soccer team and their coach, who have gone missing in Chiang Rai after entering a cave on June 23. Heavy rainfall is complicating ongoing rescue efforts.

The ongoing search for a soccer team and their coach trapped inside a cave in Thailand is receiving ample attention on Chinese social media.

On Saturday, June 23, twelve boys aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old soccer coach went missing after they had entered the Tham Luang Cave in Thailand’s northern Chiang Rai province. They had finished their soccer practice earlier that day.

Apart from their 13 bicycles, soccer boots, and footprints near the cave’s entrance, there has been no sign of the team since.

Photo via @CGTN on Weibo.

According to Reuters, the cave’s network stretches 10 km (6 miles) into a mountainous and heavily forested area. Rescue workers believe floodwaters cut off the boys in a chamber.

Photo on Weibo of the coach with what is thought to be his football team.

Despite continuing heavy rain and floodwater hampering search efforts, the rescue mission has been going on around the clock. Over a thousand Thai soldiers and rescue workers are assisting in the search for the boys.

On Friday, rescuers were still hopeful that the young team and their coach could be brought out of the caves alive.

Beijing Peaceland Foundation Joins Rescue Operation

Besides specialist help from Japan, the UK and US, a team of Chinese cave rescue experts has now also joined the rescue operation in Chiang Mai. They arrived at the scene on Friday afternoon.

The team, consisting of six volunteers, are experts in cave rescue operations from the Beijing Peaceland Foundation (北京平澜公益基金会). They brought underwater drones, diving equipment, 3D imaging sensors, and other equipment to help the rescue operation.

The team has joined previous rescue operations in, among others, Nepal and Myanmar, according to Weibo news channel Thai Headlines (@泰国头条新闻).

Image source: Thai Headlines @泰国头条新闻.

The Peaceland Foundation (@平澜公益) wrote on Weibo: “We hope the boys come back soon, so they can play soccer again,” adding: “We hope that together with the people of Thailand these boys will be brought to safety soon.”

“Like a horror movie”

Rescue workers believe the boys might have crawled into the large series of caves through a narrow 15-meter tunnel. Due to the monsoon rain, that tunnel is now completely flooded.

While water is being pumped out of the caves, a possible new entry into the caves was discovered on Friday morning.

As news of the rescue operations has been making international headlines this week, many people on Weibo are also discussing it.

“I pray they are still alive,” one commenter on Weibo wrote, with hundreds of others expressing the same hope.

Image via @CGTN on Weibo

Some netizens are more skeptical, writing: “How can we be so sure they really entered the cave?” or: “What if this was premeditated?”

Many netizens are worried, saying: “This news has really made me emotional since I saw it,” and “This has made me so afraid for them.”

“Come home boys, your mothers are waiting for you,” others say.

“This is like a Thai horror movie,” one person commented: “I hope it’s just a bad dream, and that they’re out there playing soccer somewhere.”

UPDATE: MONDAY JULY 3 (evening, local time)

After a search of nine days, the soccer team and coach trapped in Chiang Rai cave have been found safe on Mondaynight local time, the Chiang Rai governor has stated. The boys are safe.

Also on Weibo, there are some very happy & relieved reactions. The boys were allegedly found 400 meters from a chamber called Pattaya Beach.

Will update when more news comes out.

By Manya Koetse

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

©2018 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 Memes & Viral

Guy Waving Chinese Flag During France v Croatia World Cup Final Goes Viral

He’s rooting for the home team.

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The big World Cup final of France v Croatia is dominating the top trending topics lists on Weibo today, with one particular moment during the game attracting the attention of Chinese netizens, which is when one man in the audience was spotted waving a Chinese flag.

The still was posted on Weibo by a popular micro-blogger (@大锅只是喝醉) who only wrote: “This dude..”

Within ten hours after the Chinese flag man post was published, it received more than 22,000 shares, 148,000 likes and more than 20,000 comments.

“At least the flag made it!” a popular comment says.

The Chinese team was not qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The PRC has only once participated in the World Cup, in 2002, and scored zero goals.

Despite the lack of a strong team, China has great ambitions when it comes to soccer. The Chinese soccer dream is such a priority that the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese Football Association, and the Sports Bureau and Ministry of Education have set out a visionary plan to produce one of the world’s strongest soccer teams by 2050.

Besides great ambitions, China also has a big soccer fanbase.

The Chinese man spotted at the game apparently was not the only Chinese national waving the flag.

“I can tell you that I went to the game and also carried the [Chinese] flag. Many people did,” one soccer fan posted, publishing a photo taken on Sunday at the game.

Other Chinese soccer fans posted similar photos.

“The national team might be late to the party, but we made it,” some joked: “We will keep dreaming on!”

By Manya Koetse

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

©2018 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

Can’t Enter Uni Because of Daddy’s Bad Social Credit – The Blacklist Story That’s Got Weibo Talking

When one bad social credit listing affects the entire family.

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The story of a Chinese student who got admitted to a renowned university and was then denied access because of his father’s bad social credit has got Chinese social media talking.

Getting access to a top university is not easy in China’s fiercely competitive education environment. For one student from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, the results of his gaokao (national university entrance exams) were so good that he received the happy news that he was accepted into one of these renowned universities in Beijing.

Unfortunately for him, that news was later followed up with an update that he could not be accepted due to his father’s bad social credit standing.

The story, which was widely covered by Chinese state media (including the English-language CGTN), received much attention on Chinese social media this week.

The young man’s father, named only as ‘Mr. Rao’ (饶先生), ended up with a bad credit standing after owing a debt of 200,000 RMB (±US$29,900) to a local bank for more than two years. Since Rao did not succeed in paying off his debt after warnings given, he was informed by a local court that he had ended up on a so-called “lose trust list” or “black list” (失信名单/失信黑名单).

Towards a More Credit-Based Society

In 2014, China’s government first announced plans of its “Social Credit System” (社会信用体系) that focuses on accumulating and integrating information, and will create measures that encourage ‘trustworthy behavior’ and punishes those who are not ‘trustworthy.’

The system is planned to go national by 2020, and is currently implemented in various regions across the country.

However, the public black list was introduced before this time, with Chinese courts in 2013 starting to publicly give out the names online of people who have not complied with court orders.

Additionally, In 2006, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) also already began operating its own independent Credit Reference Center tasked with managing a national commercial and consumer credit reporting system. With the recent launch of the so-called ‘trust alliance’ (信联), a new unified platform that has access to an enormous number of personal credit data, China’s credit-based society has taken another leap – with state level and commercial organizations joining forces in further developing China’s credit systems.

In recent (English-language) media reports, the lines are often blurred between the Social Credit system and a number of private programs, including the Sesame Credit program. These misunderstandings partly come from the fact that both the government’s plans on introducing their ‘Social Credit System’ (社会信用体系) and the Central Bank’s endeavors to build a stronger personal credit industry (个人征信行业) were major developments in the period from 2013-2015 up to the present. Together with the 2013 judicial online blacklist, these policies and programs all built on a stronger credit-based society that governs both economic and social areas.

The ‘system’ (there is not one system in place yet) works through rewards and punishment mechanisms. In the city of Zhuhai, for example, individuals or companies with good credit are put on a “red list” which potentially means they could be praised online (Zhuhai credit website) or given rewards, whereas those put on the “black list” (f.e. due to serious misbehavior or promise-breaching) will be subject to various restrictions (Zhang & Zhang 2016, 157).

Those restrictions could include a halt on loans or a national ban from traveling by air or train. Since private programs and institutions also have access to the public blacklists, one company or person’s bad credit status can affect their status among various platforms and for various institutions – and thus, potentially, could also influence their children’s access to schools and universities.

A Controversial Measure

The recent story of Rao’s son paying the price for this father’s bad credit listing has stirred controversy online over children being affected by their parents’ bad credit listing.

One Weibo news thread on the issue received nearly 30,000 comments.

One of the most popular remarks on the story said: “If it is okay to treat those who are associated with an offender as guilty (连坐), then it’s time to punish the sons and daughters of corrupt officials, too.”

“A father’s bad credit has nothing to do with the children!”, another Weibo user said.

But another popular comment called the measure “effective,” with others agreeing: “If he waited two years to pay off his debt, he was basically asking to be on the blacklist. That his bad credit influences his child’s education is just to reap what one has sown.”

Various Chinese media, including financial newspaper Caijing, report that the boy’s father was previously warned by the local court that his bad credit standing could potentially have consequences for his children too, but that he still did not comply with court orders to pay back his loans.

Since Rao’s son has been denied access to the university as long as his father has a bad credit standing, Rao has allegedly paid back the loan and has asked the local court to be removed from the blacklist.

There are also commenters on Weibo, such as @闪电McQueen, who say the university’s actions are nothing newsworthy: “This is just the [political] examination of people’s records, it’s not specifically about the black list, it’s common knowledge, let’s not make it all about that black list.”

This commenter’s reaction reiterates the idea that the social credit system and black list system is actually not that new, as Rogier Creemers has previously described in Foreign Policy (2016): “The Chinese Communist Party government has always sought to keep tabs on its citizens, for instance through the “personal file” (dang’an) system of a few decades ago.”

Another person on Weibo says: “The people who are saying the child is the victim here should also know that people who end up on the blacklist are generally not people without money, their kids have enough opportunities, it’s just that if they owe money [to the bank], paying the tuition fee for their kids would become a problem.”

As for Rao’s son, whether or not he will be able to start at his new university in Beijing in the new semester, now that his dad has paid off debts, is yet unclear. Some commenters say it would be better if he didn’t: “Who wants to go to a university who does this anyway?”

UPDATE (7.16.18): Jeremy Daum at the ever-insighful China Law Translate blog has further looked into this case and found that the institution in this article, which has not been named in Chinese media, is most probably a private academy. He was also able to verify that this concerns a real story with no fake names used – he was able track Rao down in the public blacklist.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes

References

Creemers, Rogier; Peter Marris; Samantha Hoffman; Pamela Kyle Crossley. 2016. “What Could China’s ‘Social Credit System’ Mean for its Citizens?” Foreign Policy, Aug 15
http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/08/15/what-could-chinas-social-credit-system-mean-for-its-citizens/ [15.7.18].

Zhang, Keting, and Fang Zhang. 201. “Report on the Construction of the Social Credit System in China’s Special Economic Zones.” In: Yitao Tao and Yiming Yuan (eds), Annual Report on the Development of China’s Special Economic Zones (2016): Blue Book of China’s Special Economic Zones, 153-171. Singapore: Social Science Academic Press.

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

©2018 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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