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Chinese Tourist Alleges Sexual Assault by Butler at Maldivian Ritz-Carlton

The woman’s story has sparked concerns over the safety of Chinese female (solo) travelers abroad.

Manya Koetse

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A Chinese woman’s account of being sexually assaulted by a butler at the Ritz Carlton hotel in the Maldives has gone viral on Chinese social media this week.

It concerns a 26-year-old Chinese citizen who is studying abroad and went on a trip to the Maldives, where she claims to have been raped by a member of the hotel staff in her own room.

On Wednesday, the topic ranked first in the Weibo hot search lists and on Thursday, a related hashtag (“Victim of Alleged Sexual Assault Warns Girls To Be Cautious When Traveling Alone” #自曝被性侵女子提醒女生谨慎独自出国#) had received over 390 million views on Weibo.

The story first attracted attention on Twitter on June 18, when the alleged victim, named Xu Yitong, posted a thread on her account @YolyYitong to share her story. The thread [link here] is as follows, slightly edited for clarity:

“I was raped in the Maldives. I don’t know how many people this will reach to, but help me get help. I arrived in the Maldives on the 6th. I was to return to China on the 10th but I extended mg stay and decided to stay at the @RCMaldives [Ritz Carlton].”

“After arriving to the hotel I was allocated a butler, Usham. I checked into the room and he helped me settle down and explained all the facilities in the hotel for me. The same day I unfortunately splashed water into my phone and my phone wasn’t turning on.”

“I was concerned, I didn’t know how to contact my family, so I asked the front desk to help me and they sent Usham. He came and he let me use my sim card in his phone to speak to my mother. He then sat on the bed and started chatting with me, “Why did you come alone, where do you live etc.””

“And then he started asking me questions about what I did last night. And if I slept outside by the room pool. And that’s when I realized he watched me. And I wanted to change the topic. He left the room for a brief moment and came back because my mother had sent a WeChat.”

“And he was chatting with me again, asking questions. And he took chewing gum and started chewing and asked me if I wanted to kiss, which left me numb. I was blank. I said no, I don’t like physical contact. I took my computer and translated it to him in case he didn’t understand.”

“He then said don’t worry you can feel comfortable with me and leaned towards me and touched my mouth. I didn’t open my mouth and he said “you have no need to be ashamed, sex is ok,” and tried to force open my mouth with his tongue. He asked me if I’m gay or not because I didn’t let him.”

“I was in my pajamas. He started forcing his tongue into my mouth and said, “I will be a gentleman.” He then pushed me on the bed and started removing his pants and he put his pen*s in my mouth twice. He then went ahead and touched me down in my private parts and tried to have intercourse with me.”

“I was forcing and trying to stop him but he wouldn’t. His tries to have sex with he was not working. That’s when he stretched his fingers inside my private part. I then got up and ran and wrapped myself in a quilt. He then asked me if he can touch my breasts to cum. I refused.”

“He then used his hands and released himself on my computer screen. He took a towel from the toilet and wiped off my screen with the towel. He then said you need time to open up and he will be back and he left. I gathered myself and informed the managers in the hotel about it”

“He then used his hands and released himself on my computer screen. He took a towel from the toilet and wiped off my screen with the towel. He then said you need time to open up and he will be back and he left. I gathered myself and informed the managers in the hotel about it.”

“They came and made it look like nothing and I requested for police. They said they’ll get police and then two staffs came and took my computer with his semen and the towel too. I told them this should be handed over to police only. Police came and took my statement.”

“They took sample of my mouth. And told me it would take a week to get the result. And I should leave before the results come. And that they had no reason to arrest him yet. I went ahead and did a medical examination as well. I had bruises all over my body.”

“I was then asked to leave the hotel at the earliest. And that it’s a case between police and Usham and nothing ti do with the hotel. And that they can no longer arrange my accommodation. I left the hotel and there wasn’t even an apology.”

“You only train your housekeepers to ask for tip,
@RitzCarlton [Ritz Carlton]. I was raped in your hotel and you did nothing. You told me I did this to get a free stay. I paid the full amount to the hotel. I’m a Chinese living in Australia. My family is well reputed and rich.”

By now, the thread has received nearly 90k retweets.

According to Chinese media outlets, Xu returned home on June 13th and she is currently dealing with severe depression as a result of the assault.

On June 21, the Maldives Police issued a press statement “regarding the alleged case of sexual assault that occurred at a resort in Maldives,” in which they stated that all necessary investigative actions are being taken to look into the case, in which nobody has been arrested yet.

On the same day, Asian regional representatives of Ritz-Carlton allegedly called up Xu to apologize for what had happened to her (#马尔代夫丽思卡尔顿酒店道歉#).

According to Chinese state media outlet Global Times, the Chinese Embassy in Maldives has also become involved in the case and are in contact with Maldivian authorities and are urging them to thoroughly investigate the case.

 
Safety of Chinese Women Abroad
 

The safety of Chinese citizens abroad – especially female – have become a recurring popular topic on Chinese social media throughout the years.

The disappearance of Michelle Leung in Australia, which later turned out to be a homicide case, became a trending topic on Weibo in 2016.

In 2017, the brutal murder of two Chinese sisters in Japan became of of the biggest social topics of that year, together with the murder of Yingying Zhang in Urbana, Illinois.

Although concerns about the safety of Chinese women abroad are sometimes justified, they can also be unfounded. When a pregnant Chinese woman posted about her move to West Africa in 2022, netizens became so worried about her whereabouts after she stopped updating her social media that the local Chinese consulate even got involved to make sure she was safe (which she was).

In the case of Xu Yitong, many commenters have once again highlighted the perception that traveling abroad can be particularly unsafe for Chinese female (solo) travelers. They express concerns that crimes committed against them may not be adequately addressed, investigated, or resolved due to regressive and/or misogynistic practices.

Some official accounts have also shared informational images circulated by People’s Daily. These images contain reminders and precautions for female solo travelers, such as never getting into a car with unfamiliar individuals, always noting the name and license plate of taxis they use, and informing family members about their travel schedule, timetables, and destinations.

Two examples of various info images shared by People’s Daily about females traveling alone.

Some people perceive this story as a warning to avoid staying at the Ritz-Carlton, stating, “This hotel appears to be terrifying.”

By Manya Koetse 

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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.

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 Media

The Beishan Park Stabbings: How the Story Unfolded and Was Censored on Weibo

A timeline of the censorship & reporting of the Jilin Beishan Park stabbing incident on Chinese social media.

Manya Koetse

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The recent stabbing incident at Beishan Park in Jilin city, involving four American teachers, has made headlines worldwide. However, on the Chinese internet, the story was initially kept under wraps. This is a brief overview of how the incident was reported, censored, and discussed on Weibo.

On Monday, June 10, four Americans were stabbed while visiting Beishan park in Jilin.

Video footage of the victims lying on the ground in the park was viewed by millions of people outside the Chinese internet by Monday afternoon.

Despite the serious and unusual nature of such an attack on foreigners visiting China, it took about an entire day for the news to be reported by official Chinese channels.

 
How the Beishan Incident Unfolded Online
 

In the afternoon of June 10, news about four foreigners being stabbed in Jilin’s Beishan Park started circulating online.

Among the first online accounts to report this incident was the well-known Chinese-language X account ‘Li Laoshi’ (李老师不是你老师, @whyyoutouzhele), which has 1.5 million followers, along with the news account Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24), which has 1 million followers on X.

They both posted a video showing the incident’s aftermath, which soon went viral on X and beyond. It showed how three victims – one female and two male – were lying on the ground at the park, bleeding heavily while waiting for medical help. A police officer was already at the scene.

As soon as the video and tweets triggered discussions in the English-language social media sphere, it was clear that Chinese social media platforms were censoring and blocking mentions of the incident.

By Monday night, China local time, many Weibo commenters had started writing about what had happened in Beishan Park earlier that day, but their posts became unavailable.

Some bloggers wrote about receiving an automated message from Weibo management that their posts had been taken offline. Others started posting about “that thing in Jilin,” but even those messages disappeared. On other platforms, such as Douyin, the story was also being contained.

By 21:00-22:00 local time, a hashtag on Weibo, “Jilin Beishan Park Foreigners” (吉林北山外国人), briefly became the second most-searched topic before it was taken offline. Weibo stated: “According to relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the content of this topic is not shown.”

A hashtag about the Beishan stabbings soon became one of the hottest search queries before it disappeared.

While netizens came up with more creative words and other descriptions to talk about what had happened, the focus shifted from what had happened in Beishan Park to why the topic was being censored. “What’s this? Why can’t we talk about it?” one Weibo user wondered: “Not a single piece of news!”

Around 23:30 local time, another blogger posted: “It seems to be real that four foreigners were stabbed in Jilin’s Beishan Park this afternoon. We’ll have to see when it will formally be reported on Weibo.” Others questioned, “Why is the Jilin incident so tightly covered up on the internet?”

Around 04:00 local time on June 11, the first media outlet to really report on what had happened was Iowa Public Radio (IPR News). Before that time, one Iowan citizen had already commented on X that their sister-in-law was one of the victims involved.

One victim’s family had told IPR News that the individuals involved were four Cornell College instructors. All four survived and were recovering at a nearby hospital after being stabbed during a park visit in China.

The instructors were part of a partnership with Beihua University in Jilin. Cornell College and Beihua University have had an active partnership since 2018, with Beihua funding Cornell instructors to visit China, travel, and teach during a two-week period. Members from both institutions were visiting the public park in Jilin City when they were attacked. The visit was likely intended as a sightseeing and relaxation opportunity during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, when many people visit the park.

As reported by IPR News reporter Zachary Oren Smith (@ZacharyOS), U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks stated that her office was working with the U.S. Embassy to ensure the victims would receive care for their injuries and safely leave China.

 
Hu Xijin Post
 

Now that news of the attack on four Americans was all over X, soon picked up by dozens of international news outlets, the Chinese censorship of the story seemed unusual, considering the magnitude of the story.

Furthermore, there had still been no official statement from the Chinese side, nor any news reports on the suspect and whether or not he had been detained.

By the morning of June 11, an internal, unverified BOLO notice from the Jilin city Chuanying police office circulated online. It identified the suspect as 55-year-old Jilin resident Cui Dapeng (崔大鹏), who was still at large. The notice also clarified that there were not four but five victims in total.

At 11:33 local time, it seemed that the wall of censorship surrounding the incident was suddenly lifted when Chinese political and social commentator Hu Xijin (胡锡进), who has nearly 25 million followers on Weibo, posted about what had happened.

He based his post on “Western media reports,” and commented that this is a time when Chinese and American sides are actually promoting exchange. He saw the incident as a “random” one, which, regardless of the attacker’s motive, does not reflect broader sentiment within Chinese society. He concluded, “I also hope and believe that this incident will not negatively affect the exchanges between China and the US.”

Hu’s post spurred a flurry of discussions about the Beishan Park incident, turning it into a top-searched topic once again. His comments sparked controversy, with many disagreeing with his suggestion that the incident could potentially affect Sino-American exchanges. Many argued that there are numerous examples of Chinese people being attacked or even murdered in the US without anyone suggesting it would harm US-China relations.

Within approximately two hours of posting, Hu’s post was no longer visible and had disappeared from his timeline. This sudden deletion or blocking of his post again triggered confusion: Was Hu being censored? Why?

Later, screenshots of Hu Xijin’s post shared on social media were also censored.

 
A “Collision”
 

By the early Tuesday evening, June 11, Chinese official accounts and state media accounts finally issued a report on what had happened in what was now dubbed the “Beishan Park Stabbing Incident” (#吉林公安通报北山公园伤人案#).

Jilin authorities issued a report on what happened in Beishan Park.

A notice from local public security authorities stated that the first emergency call about a stabbing incident at the park came in at 11:49 in the morning on Monday, June 10, and police and medical assistance soon arrived at the scene.

The 55-year-old Chinese suspect, referred to as ‘Cui’ (崔某某), reportedly stabbed one of the Americans after they bumped into each other at the park (described as “a collision” 发生碰撞). The suspect then attacked the American, his three American companions, and a Chinese visitor who tried to intervene. Reports indicated that the victims were all transported to the hospital and were not in critical condition.

It was also stated that the suspect was arrested on the “same day,” without specifying the time and location of the arrest.

Later on Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed the incident during their regular press conference. Spokesperson Lin Jian (林剑) stated that local police had initially judged the case to be a random incident and that they were conducting further investigation (#外交部回应吉林北山公园伤人案#).

 
Boxer Rebellion References
 

With the discussions about the incident on Chinese social media less controlled, various views emerged, commenting on issues such as public safety in China, US-China relations, and anti-Western sentiments.

One notable trend during the early discussions of the incident is how many commenters referenced to the ‘Boxer Rebellion’ (1899–1901), an anti-foreign, anti-Christian uprising that took place during the final years of the Qing Dynasty and led to large-scale massacres of foreign residents. Many commenters believed the attacker had nationalist motives targeting foreigners.

Anti-american, nationalist sentiments also surfaced online. Some commenters laughed about the incident or praised the attacker for doing a “good job.”

However, the majority argued that this event should not be seen as indicative of a broader trend of foreign-targeted violence in China. They emphasized that Asians in America are far more frequently targeted in hate crimes than any Westerner in China, underscoring that this incident is just an isolated case.

This idea of the event being “random” (“偶然事件”) was reiterated in official reports, Hu Xijin’s column, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But there are also those who think this might be a conspiracy, calling it bizarre for such a rare incident to occur just when Chinese tourism was finally starting to flourish in the post-Covid era: “Now that our tourism industry is booming, foreigners are getting stabbed? How could it be such a coincidence? Is it possible that this was arranged by spies from other countries?”

On Tuesday, social commentator Hu Xijin made a second attempt at posting about the Beishan Park incident. This time, his post was shorter and less outspoken:

“This appears to be a public security incident,” he wrote: “But this time, four foreign nationals were attacked. In every place around the world, there are criminal and public security incidents where foreigners become victims. China is one of the relatively safest countries in the world, but this incident still occurred in broad daylight in a tourist area. This reminds us, that we need to always keep enhancing the effectiveness of security measures to protect the safety of all Chinese and foreign nationals.”

Again, his post triggered some controversy as some bloggers discovered that Hu had previously argued against extra security checks at Chinese parks, which he deemed unnecessary. They felt he was now contradicting himself.

The differing views on Hu’s posts and the incident at large perhaps explain why the news was initially controlled and censored. Although censorship and control are inherent parts of the Chinese social media apparatus, the level of control over this story was quite unusual. Whether it was due to the suspect still being on the loose, public safety concerns, fears of rising nationalist sentiments, or the need to understand the full details before the story blew up, we will likely never know.

Nevertheless, this time, Hu’s post stayed up.

The Beishan Park incident is reportedly still under investigation.

By Manya Koetse

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.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Knife-Wielding Woman Goes on Rampage at Guixi Primary School

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground.

Manya Koetse

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A woman in Guixi, a county-level city in Jiangxi’s Yingtan, has been taken into custody after stabbing people at a primary school on Monday, May 20, around noon. The incident resulted in at least two fatalities and left ten others injured.

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground, victims of the woman’s stabbing rampage at the Mingde Primary School in Guixi’s Wenfang.

The incident immediately attracted significant attention on Weibo, where netizens not only commented on the tragedy of innocent children being involved in such a horrific crime but also on the unusual fact that the suspect is female; as typically, perpetrators of such crimes are male.

Others also questioned why the school security guards were not present to prevent such an incident and how the woman managed to gain access to the school grounds in the first place.

The 45-year-old female suspect is a native of Guixi. It’s reported that she used a paring knife to carry out the stabbing attack on the school premises.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities called on blood donation centers in Guixi to extend their opening hours, and local residents started queuing up to donate blood to help out the victims who are still being treated for their injuries.

Another question that lingers is why the woman would commit such an atrocious crime. People suggest it is bàofù shèhuì (报复社会), a Chinese term that translates to “retaliate against society” or “taking revenge on society.”

Baofu shehui is often cited as a type of criminal motivation for knife-wielding incidents in China, particularly those occurring at schools, where individuals with personal grievances and/or mental health issues commit these extreme crimes. Such incidents have happened multiple times in the past, notably between 2010 and 2012, during a series of elementary school and kindergarten attacks.

Different from these kinds of attacks in Europe or the US, it often involves older perpetrators who are disillusioned, frustrated, and alienated from their communities amid rapidly changing social and economic conditions in China.

But for many netizens, such a possible motivation does not make sense. Some commenters wrote: “Taking revenge on society should never be done by venting one’s anger against children.”

Others wish the worst upon the perpetrator. One popular comment says, “I hope she gets the death penalty, and that the victims’ families get to execute her.”

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

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©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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