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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.

Manya Koetse

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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.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. 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 hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Tech

Douyin Delivered to Your Doorstep: China’s TikTok App Launching Nationwide Food Delivery Services?

Watching videos on Meituan and ordering food from TikTok?

Manya Koetse

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This week, TMT Post (钛媒体) reported that, starting on March 1st of this year, the Chinese TikTok app (Douyin) will roll out a nationwide food delivery service. The app is already running a trial in food delivery through group buying on its app in Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu (“团购配送”).

Bytedance, the company behind TikTok, responded to the news by saying that it was indeed rolling out its food delivery services, but that there was no specific timetable for expansion yet. According to various reports, however, TikTok is busy recruiting staff for its food delivery business.

The topic went trending on Chinese social media on Tuesday, receiving over 320 million views on Weibo alone (#抖音将于3月1日上线全国外卖服务#), with another topic about what this move actually means garnering over 280 million views (#抖音入局外卖意味着什么#).

One related trending topic is about the Tencent-owned app Meituan, a dominant player in the Chinese food delivery market, and whether or not it should worry about TikTok entering the game (#抖音上线外卖美团慌了吗#). The Alibaba-backed Ele.me is another major player which could be affected if TikTok adds food delivery to its nationwide services.

Many commenters wondered if China’s most popular apps would all now just become like ‘super apps’ mixing up their functions, such as TikTok delivering food and Meituan entering the short video market.

Others also said that it might be a good development, as the competition means customers have more options: “For the customer, it doesn’t matter which app they order on; the one that has the best price-performance ratio is the one we’ll favor,” a typical comment said.

With over 700 million daily active users, Douyin is among the most popular social apps in China. Outside of China, its international TikTok version is also a global hit, but it is a completely separate app.

One popular comment on Weibo suggested that TikTok’s food delivery function might give online influencers a new idea of live streaming while cooking the food that you can order to get delivered, guaranteeing it is freshly prepared.

Others also jokingly suggest that food delivery drivers could do TikTok videos and live streams at the same time on how they are doing deliveries for TikTok.

The enormous popularity of the topic on Chinese social media shows that people are curious to see which way TikTok is heading, and how its role within China’s digital ecosystem might evolve in the time to come.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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©2023 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 Spy Balloon” Versus “Chinese Civilian Airship” – The Chinese Words That Matter in the Balloon Incident

On Chinese social media, the Chinese balloon is seen as a weather device that ended up measuring the temperature of China-US relations.

Manya Koetse

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A day after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese balloon off the Carolina coast, the ‘balloon incident’ is a hot topic on Chinese social media, as official media are publishing about the incident and social media users are discussing it.

At 8:17 in the morning on Feb. 5, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its response to the shooting down of the Chinese balloon on Weibo.

They expressed “strong discontent and protest” over the American use of force to attack the “civilian unmanned airship” (民用无人飞艇) after Chinese officials recurringly informed the U.S. side that the balloon – described as a weather device, – had accidentally entered the U.S. and did not pose any threat to the U.S. whatsoever (#外交部就美方宣称击落中国无人飞艇发表声明#).

On Chinese social media, as also described in our earlier article on the incident, the balloon has come to be referred to as the “Wandering Balloon” (流浪气球) in the context of the box-office hit The Wandering Earth II.

At the same time, China celebrated the Lantern Festival (元宵节) which marks the first full moon of the Chinese New Year. It is tradition to eat glutinous rice balls and enjoy lanterns floating in the sky.

The balloon incident set the Chinese social media meme machine in motion, in which the balloon, The Wandering Earth II, and the Lantern Festival all came together in various images that circulated on Weibo and beyond.

The balloon, featured in ‘The Wandering Balloon’ movie produced by ‘US Government’, wishes everyone a happy Lanern Festival.

Another meme titled “Wandering Balloon” drawing comparisons between the ballloon and rice balls traditionally eaten during Lantern Festival.

The Weibo hashtags used to discuss the incident were mainly initiated by Chinese (state) media outlets, such as “The U.S. Side Claims to Have Shot Down Chinese Unmanned Airship” (#美方宣称击落中国无人飞艇#); “America Uses Military Force to Attack Civilian Unmanned Airship” (#美方宣称击落中国无人飞艇#); “The U.S. Side’s Insistence on Using Force Is Clearly an Overreaction” (#美方执意动用武力明显反应过度#).

“Is it a balloon or an airship? The American official and media side all claim it is a spying balloon; the Chinese side claims it is an civilian unmanned airship,” one blogger wrote, showing the different media contexts in which the incident is being discussed and emphasizing the importance of the vocabulary used.

Words matter, and at a time when there is a lot of speculation about the incident, the seemingly humorous way in which Chinese netizens have responded to the international dispute also relates to the language that is being used to describe the event.

On Chinese social media, the majority of commenters see the balloon as a weather device that went wandering and, unexpectedly, ended up measuring the temperature of Sino-American relations – which turned out to be icy cold.

Some examples of the kind of phrasing that matters in the Chinese media context:

Civilian Unmanned Airship
民用无人飞艇 Mínyòng Wúrén Fēitǐng

The balloon in question is described as a “civilian unmanned airship” in Chinese official and state media texts. The word ‘civilian’ (民用) is included in the clarification about the balloon being a civilian meteorological balloon, and thus not serving any military purposes (民用 ‘civilian’ versus 军用 ‘military’).

Attack [on] Civilian Unmanned Airship
袭击民用无人飞艇 Xíjí Mínyòng Wúrén Fēitǐng

The U.S. military shooting down the Chinese balloon is also phrased as an “attack” (袭击) in many Chinese media reports as well as in the official Foreign Ministry post.

Completely by Accident
完全是意外 Wánquán Shì Yìwài

The expressions “completely by accident” (完全是意外), “unexpected circumstances” (意外情况), and “force majeure” (不可抗力) are used in official Chinese media texts describing the balloon incident to underline that the circumstances in which the device floated into American skies was not only unrelated to military / government purposes, but that it was also unintentional.

Stay tuned for more updates.

By Manya Koetse 

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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.

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

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