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Chinese PhD Student Goes Missing in London (Updated)

The 36-year-old female PhD student Yan has been missing for 10 days.

Manya Koetse

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A 36-year-old woman from Shenyang, China, who is a PhD student at London’s King’s College, has been missing for ten days. Her mother is reaching out for help on Weibo.

This article has been updated to include new information since its initial posting. Police believe they have now found the body of Yan Sihong (see information at end of this article).

A Chinese female exchange student from Shenyang, studying at King’s College in London, has been reported missing earlier this week. On Tuesday, the missing person case became one of the most-searched topics on Sina Weibo.

The woman’s family turned to the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom on Monday after they were unable to reach her since February 17. She was reportedly also last seen on that day.

On February 27, various Chinese news sources reported about the missing student, whose name is Yan Sihong (闫思宏, 1982). Yan is affiliated to the Lau China Institute, a multi-disciplinary centre for the study of all aspects of China which is part of the London King’s College.

London police are currently investigating the case. The Chinese Embassy in the UK, which posted a notice about Yan on their official website, is closely following the issue.

The news received a lot of attention on Chinese social media on Tuesday, as official state media such as CCTV, Global Times and People’s Daily shared it through their official Weibo channels. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security also posted the missing person case on Weibo.

Yan’s mother reached out for help on Weibo on Tuesday. In a blog post, the worried mother explains that Yan Sihong started her studies in the UK in September of 2016 and has always been in close touch with her family. They were not able to reach her again after their last Wechat conversation over Chinese New Year on the night of February 15 to February 16. “We have no idea what happened to her since,” the mother writes.

Media outlet Chinese Weekly (@华闻周刊) wrote on Weibo that Yan may have fallen victim to kidnapping, although few other sources currently confirm if there is any truth to these speculations.

The Weibo account of the independent media source for overseas Chinese called ‘This is Great Britain’ (@这才是英国) does say that there are leads in this case signalling a kidnapping, which potentially includes a second person by the name of Rong Luqi (容露琦) – another student allegedly affiliated to the Faculty of Science and Engineering (not confirmed by other sources). The Weibo account posted screenshots of a WeChat conversation in which a person calls for help, saying they are being abducted. (Read more about this case here).

As more Chinese are studying abroad, news about Chinese students going missing in foreign countries is more often making headlines. The disappearance of Michelle Leung in Australia, which later turned out to be a homicide case, also became a trending topic on Weibo in 2016. The disappearance of Yingying Zhang in Illinois also made headlines last year.

“I hope she is okay,” many Weibo netizens wrote about Yan, also expressing their hope that other Chinese students abroad take care of their safety. In response to the news, the Communist Youth League posted some information sheets on Weibo containing information for Chinese studying abroad, including warnings on getting intoxicated and leaving one’s drink unattended. The sheets also warn student not to go out alone late at night.

At time of writing, no UK news websites, nor the King’s College website, has yet mentioned anything about Yan’s missing.

Chinese official media and the embassy are calling on people who know more about Yan’s whereabouts to contact the local police in the UK.

UPDATE Wednesday 12:05 pm (London time): London police have issued a statement that officers investigating the disappearance of Yan have found a woman deceased at an address in Westminster. She is believed to be Yan Sihong. The death is being treated as non-suspicious. The family has been informed.

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 Media

Lost in Translation? UBS’s “Chinese Pig” Comment Stirs Controversy

“Chinese pig” – much ado about nothing or an insulting remark?

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A report by the UBS titled “Very Normal Inflation” caused controversy on Chinese social media on Thursday for containing the term “Chinese pig.”

The UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank, published the article on consumer price inflation on June 12. The author, economist Paul Donovan, wrote: “Chinese consumer prices rose. This was mainly due to sick pigs. Does it matter? It matters if you are a Chinese pig.” The same text also appeared in a podcast on inflation in China.

Global Times (环球时报), a Chinese and English language media outlet under the People’s Daily newspaper, lashed out against the USB for its “insulting” and “discrimatory” remarks.

Many netizens agreed with the Global Times, and see the “Chinese pig” remark as a joke with a double meaning, assuming that Donovan was both talking about pigs in China, as well as insulting Chinese people.

Some people suggest that if Donovan did not intend to make a pun, he could have written “it matters if it is a pig in China” instead. They argue that UBS and Donovan could have avoided using the term to begin with, and intentionally wrote it up like this to insult Chinese people.

There are also social media users who come to Donovan’s defense. Author Deborah Chen (陈叠) writes on Weibo that she has known Paul for a long time and that she knows him as a straightforward and humorous commentator. “There is just one kind of translation for ‘pigs of China’ (中国的猪) and ‘Chinese pigs’ (中国猪) in English,” she says: “If you look at the context, you’ll see he’s talking about farm animals, and is not humiliating the people of the nation.”

On Weibo, multiple people called the reactions to the article “overly sensitive.”

A commenter nicknamed “Taxpayer0211809” wrote: “The way I understood is just that China’s consumer prices have inflated and that this is because of the swine fever. Is this thing important? It is important if you are a pig in China, or if you like eating pork, for the rest of the world there won’t be a big influence.”

Shortly after the controversy erupted, the UBS and Donovan sent their apologies, which were also published by Global Times:

But some Chinese web users did not accept those apologies. One Chinese author wrote there was nothing “innocent” about the remarks made.

The article in question has since been removed from the USB website.

 
Also read: Bulgari’s Noteworthy New China Marketing Campaign on a Happy ‘Jew’ Year of the Pig (Zhu)
 

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©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 Media

On 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Protests, Weibo Completely Cracks Down on the T-Word

The T-word is the taboo subject, but not for the State Office.

Manya Koetse

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Nobody can mention the T-word on social media this week, except for the State Council Information Office.

It is the time of the year that censorship on Chinese internet intensifies, and this year the date carries even more weight, as it marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen student protests that started in April 1989 and ended with the violent crackdown on June 4th of that year.

What is noticeable about this anniversary on Weibo this year? Whereas certain combinations of ‘Tiananmen’ together with ‘protests’ or ‘6.4’ are always controlled on the social media site, searching for the Chinese word ‘Tiananmen’ now only shows a series of media posts about the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (#庆祝新中国成立70年#).

The posts all come from Chinese (state) media outlets and mention the word ‘Tiananmen’ in it, with different state media outlets all posting the same post after the other starting from Monday night local time (e.g. one posts at 19:35, the other at 19:36, 19:45, etc).

The post is a press release from the State Council Information Office that for the first time now shares the official logo to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The logo is the number “70” and the National Emblem of the People’s Republic of China, which contains in a red circle a representation of Tiananmen Gate and the five stars of the national flag. The word ‘Tiananmen’ is mentioned twice in the official state media Weibo posts.

Earlier on Monday, shortly before the press release, searching for ‘Tiananmen’ on Weibo showed that there were over 18 million posts containing the word ‘Tiananmen,’ but when clicking the results page, it suddenly showed that there were “no results” at all, suggesting a complete shutdown of searches for this term.

The hashtag page for #Tiananmen# (#天安门#) also comes up with zero results at time of writing.

For more on this subject, also read: Tiananmen Without the Tanks – The 1980s China Wants to Remember and the interview with musician Jeroen den Hengst, who was in Beijing in 1989.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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