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Chinese Media Coverage of China’s Rescue Efforts in Turkey-Syria Earthquake

Chinese state media have framed China’s rescue efforts in Turkey and Syria as being in line with the responsibilities of a great nation.

Manya Koetse




After the devastating earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, killing over 25,000 36,000 people, rescue teams from all over the world have come to provide assistance in the quake-hit areas and dozens of countries have reached out to help in various ways.

On Chinese social media, China’s efforts to assist Turkey and Syria have become big topics in ongoing discussions about the earthquake.

Topics such as China sending cash aid to the disaster areas, along with rice and wheat and tents, blankets, etc., have been widely covered by online media this week (#中国220吨小麦将运抵叙利亚#), but it is the efforts of the Chinese rescue teams that have received the most attention when it comes to China’s assistance to the quake-hit areas.

State media outlets mostly drive the online attention for the Chinese rescue groups in Turkey and Syria. People’s Daily, Xinhua, China News Service, and CCTV all report about the rescue efforts of the teams from China.

Chinese Rescue Teams in Turkey and Syria

Several rescue teams from China have come to the quake-hit areas. Apart from the official China Search and Rescue Team, there are also Chinese civilian rescue teams, including the Blue Sky Rescue Team and Ram Rescue Team. The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) also sent a rescue team to Syria on Thursday.

The official Chinese Rescue team – the China International Search and Rescue Team (CISAR/中国国际救援队)- consists of experienced members from, among others, the Beijing fire and rescue corps, the National Earthquake Response Support Service, and some of them are emergency hospital staff. They also brought four rescue dogs with them.

A first batch consisting of 82 rescuers dispatched by the Chinese government arrived at the disaster area on Wednesday (#中国救援队82人抵达土耳其#).

The Blue Sky Rescue Team (蓝天救援队) is a professional non-profit search-and-rescue organization with more than 30,000 registered volunteers. Founded in 2007, it is China’s largest nonprofit civil rescue organization.

China’s Blue Sky Rescue Teams arrived in Turkey on February 8 and 9, including the local Chongqing, Hainan, Fujian, Jiangsu, and Hunan teams. They also brought special earthquake rescue and alarm systems with them.

The ‘Ram Rescue Team’ or ‘Rescue Team of Ramunion’ (公羊救援队) is a professional volunteer team specializing in outdoor emergency rescue tasks. The team, founded in 2008, has participated in various rescue efforts. They previously also provided assistance during earthquake rescue situations in Nepal, Pakistan, Ecuador, Italy, and Indonesia on behalf of China’s civilian rescue forces.

Nine members of the Zhejiang Ram Rescue Team arrived in Turkey’s Adana on Wednesday, bringing a rescue dog. Seven more members arrived from Sichuan on Friday.

Rescue-Related Hashtags on Social Media

#蓝天救援队在机场遇到感人一幕# – Chinese state media outlet Xinhua News reported that some members of the Blue Sky Team ran into local people upon their arrival in Turkey, who were moved to see the teams coming in from China.

#公羊救援队救出1男子和1儿童# – At about 9 am local time on Feb. 9 in Turkey, China’s Ram Rescue Team rescued a man and a child.

#中国救援队救出第二名幸存者# – On Feb. 9, Chinese state media reported that a Chinese rescue team and a local rescue team managed to rescue a survivor in Turkey. The person, a pregnant woman, was taken to the hospital by ambulance for treatment.

#公羊救援队与土方合力救出一家5口# – The same day at 1:30 pm local time, the Chinese Ram Rescue Team, together with the Turkish Army urban search team, successfully rescued a family consisting of 2 adults and 3 children in Belen Town.

#公羊救援队成功救援一户家庭# – On Feb 9., Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily reported that the Chinese rescue workers joined forces with local rescue teams in rescuing a family of two adults and three children from the earthquake rubble on Thursday afternoon.

#中国救援队成功营救出第3名幸存者# – At 8pm local time on February 9, a Chinese rescue team and the local Turkish rescue force managed to rescue a female survivor from a collapsed 7-story building. At this time, over 80 hours had already passed since the earthquake.

#中国救援队连夜奋战拯救生命# – Xinhua News reported that Chinese teams continued to work throughout the night in order to try and rescue more people.

#中国救援队救出被埋100小时幸存者# – CCTV reported on Friday that, through the joint efforts of Chinese and Turkish rescue teams, a woman who was trapped inside a collapsed building was able to be rescued from the ruins after 100 hours.

#搜救犬Lucky上岗首日寻获1名幸存者# – On Feb 10. China’s Ram Rescue Team and the search and rescue dog Lucky provided assistance to Turkish rescue workers in rescuing one survivor.

#中国救援队成功救出第四人# – Around 3:40 pm on Friday, the Chinese rescue team managed to rescue another earthquake survivor trapped inside a collapsed building in Antakya.

#蓝天救援队第二梯队赴土救灾# – A second Blue Sky Team headed to Turkey on Saturday, Feb 11, to help disaster victims. Besides equipment, the team brings all kinds of food to the disaster area, including instant noodles, pickled mustard, and Laoganma.

#蓝天救援队有人借钱去土耳其# – China News Service reported that some members of China’s Blue Sky Rescue team had to borrow money to get to Turkey. Rescue members of the civilian rescue team pay for travel costs themselves, spending over 20,000 yuan ($2937) per member.

#官方呼吁尚未启程救援队取消行动# – On Saturday, Feb. 11, China’s Association for Disaster Prevention called on Chinese civilian rescue teams that had not yet left China to cancel or suspend their plans to go to the disaster area. As the rescue work had reached its fifth day, survival chances have greatly dropped and in order to let emergency relief aid workers do their work and not to add burden, the official advice is to suspend traveling to Turkey at this time.

‘Major Power’ Humanitarian Aid

Chinese state media have also framed China’s rescue efforts in Turkey and Syria as being in line with the responsibilities of a great nation (“大国风范,” “大国的担当,” “大国担当”), as providing international humanitarian assistance is generally seen as being part of the role of a major power.

Chinese media outlet Rednet reported how the speed and efficiency in which the Chinese government organized rescue teams to send to Turkey and Syria demonstrate China’s power to the rest of the world as a “Chinese miracle” (“中国奇迹”).

In recent years, China’s role in international rescue operations has become increasingly important. The experiences and lessons of China’s rescue teams during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan have also contributed to the development of China’s disaster emergency rescue system in various ways, including inter-organizational coordination (Lin et al 2-17).

This week, China Daily provided an overview of some of the rescue efforts China has contributed to in recent years, including the 2019 Mozambique cyclone disaster, the 2015 Nepal earthquake, the 2011 Japan tsunami, the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, and the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake.

On Weibo, the China Communist Youth League also initiated the hashtag “In 20 Years, China Has Participated in 12 International Rescue Operations” (#20年来中国共参与过12次国际救援#).

“Our motherland is powerful, they are taking responsibility,” one Weibo commenter wrote: “No matter if it is official teams or civilian ones, they embody the air of a great power. It’s moving.”

By Manya Koetse 


Lin, Xi, Ke-Jia Liu, Yong-Gui Zhang, Yang Dan, Dian-Guo Xing, Li Chen, Ding-Yuan Du. 2017. “China Medical Team: Medical rescue for “4.25” Nepal Earthquake.” Chinese Journal of Traumatology 20 (2017) 235-239.


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Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of 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 Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Changsha Restaurant Employee Pays the Price after Protecting Abused Child

A Changsha restaurant employee who intervened when a mother beat her child ended up paying the price for it.

Manya Koetse



The story of a restaurant employee who had to pay the price for sharing a video of a mother beating her child has triggered anger on Chinese social media.

The incident happened on September 14, when Mr. Jiang (江), an employee at the ‘Peng Shu’ Western-style restaurant in Changsha, stopped a mother from beating her young daughter at the shopping mall where the restaurant is located.

As reported by the Guizhou media channel People’s Focus (@百姓关注), a mother and daughter at the restaurant drew the staff’s attention when the mother began physically assaulting her daughter.

The mother, clearly overwhelmed by her emotions, resorted to kicking, hitting, yelling, and even attempting to strike her child with a chair, allegedly in response to the child accidentally spilling ice cream on her clothing.

During this distressing incident, which was captured on video, Mr. Jiang and another colleague intervened to protect the child and immediately alerted the police to the situation.

But the one who was punished in the end was not the mother.

The video of this incident was shared online, leading the woman to repeatedly visit the restaurant in frustration over her unblurred face in the video. The police had to mediate in this dispute.

To the dismay of many netizens, the employee ended up being forced to pay the woman 10,000 yuan ($1369) in compensation for “moral damages.” He has since resigned from his job and has left Changsha. A related hashtag was viewed over 110 million times on Weibo (#餐厅员工发顾客打娃视频后赔1万离职#) and also became a hot topic on Douyin.

The majority of commenters expressed their anger at the unjust outcome where a restaurant employee, who had attempted to protect the child, faced repercussions while the mother appeared to avoid any legal consequences for her actions.

“Where is the All-China Women’s Federation when you need them?” some wondered, while others wanted to know why the incident was not followed up with an immediate investigation into the child abuse. Others suggested that if it were a man who had beaten his child, authorities would have been quicker to intervene.

The issue of corporal punishment for children often comes up in Chinese social media discussions. While many people find it unacceptable to beat children, using violence to discipline children is also commonplace in many families.

When China’s first national law against domestic violence came into effect on 1 March 2016, article 5 and 12 specifically addressed the special legal protection of children and made family violence against children against the law.

By Manya Koetse

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

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China Fashion & Beauty

Fashion that Hurts? Online Debates on China’s Draft Law Regarding ‘Harmful’ Clothes

The proposed ban on clothing deemed harmful is stirring debate, with some arguing for the significance of protecting national pride and others emphasizing the value of personal expression.

Manya Koetse



China’s recent proposal to ban clothing that “hurts national feelings” has triggered social media debates about freedom of dress and cultural sensitivities. The controversial amendment has raised questions about who decides what’s offensive for which reason.

A draft amendment to China’s Public Security Administration Punishments Law (治安管理处罚法) has caused some controversy this week for proposing a ban on clothes that “hurt national feelings.”

The discussions are about Article 34, clausules 3 and 4, which point out that wearing clothing or symbols that are deemed “harmful” to “the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” could become illegal. Offenders may face up to 15 days of detention and a fine of 5,000 yuan ($680).

The revised Article is part of a section about acts disrupting public order and their punishment, mentioning the protection of China’s heroes and martyrs.

Especially over the past three to four years, Chinese authorities have placed more importance on protecting the image of China’s “heroes and martyrs.” In 2018, the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law was adopted to strengthen the protection of those who have made significant contributions to the nation and sacrificed their lives in the process.

Those insulting the PLA can face serious consequences. In 2021, former Economic Observer journalist Qiu Ziming (仇子明), along with two other bloggers, were the first persons to be charged under the new law as they were detained for “insulting” Chinese soldiers. Qiu, who had 2.4 million fans on his Weibo page, made remarks questioning the number of casualties China said it suffered in the India border clash. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Earlier this year, Chinese comedian Li Haoshi was canceled making a joke that indirectly made a comparison between PLA soldiers and stray dogs, while also placing words famously used by Xi Jinping in a ridiculous context.

Screenshot of the draft widely shared on social media.

The draft is open for public comment through September 30, and it is therefore just a draft of a proposed amendment at this point.

Nevertheless, it has ignited many discussions on Chinese social media, where legal experts, bloggers, and regular netizens gave their views on the issue, with many people opposing the amendment.

This a translation of the first four clausules of Article 34 by Jeremy Daum’s China Law Translate (see the full translation here). Note that the discussions are focused on the item (2) and (3) revisions:

“Article 34:Those who commit any of the following acts are to be detained for between 5 and 10 days or be fined between 1,000 and 3,000 RMB; and where the circumstances are more serious, they are to be detained for between 10 and 15 days and may be concurrently fined up to 5,000 RMB:
(1) engaging in activities in public places that are detrimental to the environment and atmosphere for commemorating heroes and martyrs;
(2) Wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public places that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, or forcing others do do so;
(3) Producing, transmitting, promoting, or disseminating items or speech that is detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people;
(4) Desecrating or negating the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs, or advocating or glorifying wars of aggression or aggressive conduct, provocation, or disrupting public order.”

Here, we mention the biggest online discussions surounding the draft amendment.

Main Objections to the Amendment

On Chinese social media site Weibo, commenters used various hashtags to discuss the recent draft, including the hashtags “China’s Proposed Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#我国拟修订治安管理处罚法#), “Article 34 of the Draft Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#治安管理处罚法修订草案第34条#) or “Harm the Feelings of the Chinese Nation” (#伤害中华民族感情#).

The issue that people are most concerned about is the vague definition “harming or hurting the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” (“伤害中华民族精神、感情”).

Although Chinese state media outlets, including the English-language Global Times, indicate that the clause is deemed to target some provocative actions to attract public attention, such as wearing Japanese military uniforms at sensitive sites, legal experts and social media users are expressing apprehensions regarding its ambiguity.

Questions arise: Who determines what qualifies as “harmful”? What criteria will be used? How will it be enforced? Beyond concerns about the absence of clear guidelines on which attire might be deemed illegal and for what reasons, there are fears of potential misinterpretation and misuse of such a law due to its subjective nature.

Some people question whether wearing foreign brands like Adidas or Nike could be considered offensive. There are also concerns about whether wearing sports attire supporting specific clubs might be seen as disrespectful. Another common topic is cosplay, a popular form of role-playing among China’s youth, where individuals dress up in costumes and accessories to portray specific characters. Can people still dress up in the way they like?

Well-known political commentator Hu Xijin published a video commentary about the issue on September 7, suggesting that the law in question could be more concrete and avoid misunderstanding by explicitly mentioning it targets facism, racism, or separatism. He also suggested that it is important for China’s legal system to provide people with a sense of security (– rather than scaring them).

Others reiterated similar views. If the clausules are indeed specifically about slandering national heroes and martyrs, which makes sense considering their context, they should be rephrased. One popular legal blogger (@皇城根下刀笔吏) wrote:

The legal enforceability of harming the spirit and the feelings of the Chinese nation is not quite the same as insulting or slandering heroes. Because it is actually very clear who our national heroes are. They are classified as martyrs and were approved by the state, it’s very clear. But when it comes to the feelings and the spirit of the Chinese nation, this is just very vague (..) And ambiguity brings about a mismatch in the practice of implementation, which will make people lose trust in this legal provision and makes them feel unsafe.”

Although a majority of commenters agree that the proposed amendment is vague, some also express that they would support a ban on clothes that are especially offensive. Among them is the popular blogger Han Dongyan (@韩东言), who has over 2.3 million followers on Weibo.

One example that is mentioned a lot, also by Han, is the 2001 controversy surrounding Chinese actress Vicky Zhao who wore a mini-dress printed with the old Japanese naval flag during a fashion shoot, triggering major backlash over her perceived lack of sensitivity to historical matters and the offensive dress.

Han also mentioned a 2018 example of two young men dressed in Imperial Japanese military uniforms taking a photo in front of the Shaojiashan Bunker at Zijin Mountain, where the Second Sino-Japanese War is commemmorated.

Kimono Problems

One trending story that is very much entangled with recent discussions about the proposed ban on ‘harmful’ clothing is that about a group of Chinese men and women who were recently denied access to the Panlongcheng National Archaeological Site Park in Wuhan because staff members allegedly mistook their clothing for Japanese traditional attire.

The individuals were actually not wearing Japanese traditional dress at all; they were wearing traditional Tang dynasty clothing to take photos of themselves. This is part of the Hanfu Movement, a social trend that is popular among younger people who supports the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothing (read more).

According to Zhengguan News (正观新闻), there is no official park policy prohibiting the wearing of Japanese clothing, and an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Paper reported that the incident allegedly happened around closing time.

Meanwhile, this incident has sparked discussions because it highlights the potential consequences when authorities arbitrarily enforce clothing rules and misinterpret situations. One netizen wrote: “It illustrates that when “some members of the public” cannot even tell the difference between Hanfu, Tang dynasty attire, and Japanese kimono, they are simply venting their emotions.”

Last year, a Chinese female cosplayer who was dressed in a Japanese summer kimono while taking pictures in Suzhou’s ‘Little Tokyo’ area was taken away by local police for ‘provoking trouble’ (read here).

A video showed how the young woman was scolded by an officer for wearing the Japanese kimono, suggesting she is not allowed to do so as a Chinese person. The girl was known to be a cosplayer, and she was dressed up as the character Ushio Kofune from the Japanese manga series Summer Time Rendering, wearing a cotton summer kimono, better known as yukata.

The incident sparked extensive debates, with differing viewpoints emerging. While some believed the girl’s choice of wearing Japanese clothing during the week leading up to August 15, a memorial day marking the end of the war, was insensitive, many commenters defended her right to engage in cosplay.

These discussions are resurfacing on Weibo, underscoring the divided opinions on the matter.

One Weibo user expressed a common viewpoint: “I believe wearing a Japanese kimono in everyday situations is not a problem, but doing so at specific times and places could potentially offend the sentiments of the Chinese nation.” Another blogger (@猹斯拉) also voiced support for a law that could prohibit certain clothing: “If you genuinely believe what you’re wearing is not harmful, you always have the right to make your argument.”

However, there is also significant opposition, with some individuals posting images of themselves reading George Orwell’s 1984 at night or making cynical remarks like, “Maybe we should say nothing and wear nothing, as anything else could lead to our arrest.”

“This is not progress,” another person wrote: “It’s taking another step back in time.”

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes


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