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China’s ‘Dancing Grannies’ Anger Stressed-Out Students Ahead of Gaokao Exams

They gather at dusk and dawn to dance, for their good health and social catch ups. But during the most important exams of the year, the rowdy gatherings of China’s ‘dancing grannies’ lead to angered reactions from students with exam stress.



They gather at dusk and dawn to dance, for their good health and social catch ups. But during the most important exams of the year, the rowdy gatherings of China’s ‘dancing grannies’ lead to angered reactions from students with exam stress.

Square dancing or plaza dancing is a common sight in public spaces like parks or squares across China. It is mostly elderly retired women who meet each other in the mornings and evenings to perform synchronized dance routines together to loud music. For these so-called ‘dancing grannies’, square dancing is both a cheap way to stay fit and a nice occasion to socialize with friends and neighbors.

In the days before the gaokao, China’s national college entrance exams, many square dancers across China decide to skip dancing for some days to give stressed students some silence to study.

For most Chinese students, the gaokao is the most important exam of their lives. Getting a high score might be the ticket to a good job and bright future. The period around these exams is like a national event, with construction workers halting their projects near examination rooms and police cars patrolling the streets to keep things quiet.

In Huizhou, Guangdong, however, some ‘dancing grannies’ were not willing to skip their exercise on June 6 and went ahead with their dancing as usual. A video report by Pear Video about these stubborn dancers drew thousands of angry comments on Weibo.

“The exams are tomorrow, not now, and we need to work out!”, one person told Pear Video reporters in this video clip. Another older man asked the journalists: “Why don’t you take the health of the elderly into consideration, too?!”

Some plaza dancers refuse to stop dancing to give students in the neighbourhood some peace to study. Image via Pear Video.

The video of the Huizhou dancers went viral on Weibo on June 8. Many people are angered with the inconsiderate dancers, saying that elderly people should know better than to be so selfish: “We shouldn’t respect the elderly just because they are old – they did not have to do anything for that -, we only have to respect the good morals and conduct that come with growing old.”

One of the most popular comments said: “I respect the elder but do not respect those without morals, I love young people but don’t like those without teachings”(‘吾敬老不敬无德之老,吾爱幼不爱无教之幼”).

“These are the kind of people who have enough energy to dance during the night, but will make you give up your seat on public transportation during the day so they can sit down,” another person writes.

“Don’t they have grandchildren taking exams, too?”, some wonder.

This is not the first time China’s dancing elders make headlines for their being rowdy and loud. In response to the growing complaints about square-dancing grannies, Chinese authorities started introducing fines and penalties since 2015 for dancers who cause too much nuisance.

On Weibo, bothered students ask: “Grannies, don’t you know how important these exams are to us?”

The topic “Good luck with the exams” (#高考加油#) is the number one trending topic today. “There are a thousand ways to exercise,” one commenter says: “but our college entrance examination is the only way out.”

By Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at


Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of 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, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Nanjing To Implement Security Partitions in Public Buses and Introduce “Grievance Awards” for Drivers

After the Chongqing bus crash, the safety on Chinese public buses is the talk of the day, with Nanjing taking new security measures.



Amidst safety concerns over disruptive passengers in China’s public transport system, Nanjing is introducing security partitions in buses and special awards for drivers who do not respond to aggressive behavior by passengers.

This week, the safety on China’s public buses is one of the most-discussed issues on Chinese social media, following the horrific crash of a bus in Chongqing caused by passenger’s aggression – which is just one but many incidents involving disruptive passengers on public transport.

On November 3rd, Chinese media report that the city of Nanjing will implement security partitions in all of its city buses to protect drivers against passenger abuse.

The Nanjing Public Transportation Group will arrange that around 8000 buses in Nanjing will be equipped with such dividers in 2019, People’s Daily writes on Weibo.

Nanjing bus drivers are also requested not to respond to (angry) passengers and not to hit or talk back. Drivers who suffer abuse and do not react to it will receive a special compensation for pain and suffering called wěiqujiǎng (“委屈奖”), literally: “Grievance Award,” with prices going from 10 yuan ($1,4) to 200 yuan ($30).

Such a compensation was previously already introduced in some places in Anhui province.

“Grievance Award”, cartoon by Sina news.

In the case of the Chongqing crash, that killed 15 people, security footage from the bus’s black box showed that the driver fought back when he was hit by a female passenger, leading him to lose control over the steering wheel and plunging into a river.

Among the thousands of people commenting on Nanjing’s new safety measures, there are those in favor of the dividers and those against it. Those who are not supportive of the measure say that the partition might be dangerous because it would not allow passengers to help out in case the bus driver suddenly becomes unwell.

Public opinions seem to be less divided over the idea of the “Grievance Award” for drivers, with many criticizing it and finding it “laughable,” saying that one cannot put a price on several levels of feeling wronged, or that it is “undignified” and “irrational” to expect of drivers not to defend themselves against aggression.

Many comments also mention that the focus of these kinds of measures should lie on the punishments for disruptive passengers, instead of awarding drivers for suffering abuse.

“The bus should also have a system where people swipe their [public transport] card that is tied to their identity, so that troublemakers can be blacklisted,” some suggest.

Others say that bus drivers should be equipped with a taser gun to fend off aggressive passengers.

Some commenters write: “Bus drivers are also people, people who work in the service industry, not in the maltreatment industry!”

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

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China Local News

Abandoned Dog ‘Deng Deng’ Becomes Viral Hit after Being Put up for Auction by Beijing Court

Deng Deng the dog was listed as “movable property” by the Chaoyang courthouse.



First published

Little Deng Deng has become somewhat of a celebrity on Chinese social media this week, since a local Beijing court put the dog up for auction after a pet hotel sued its owner for abandoning Deng Deng years ago.

On the night of October 26th, the peculiar news story that a dog was being put up for auction for by a local Beijing court made its rounds on WeChat and Weibo.

The dog that is being put up for auction is the four-year-old Shiba Inu breed ‘Deng Deng’ (登登), that was left by its owner at the Beijing ‘Happy Pampering Pet Hotel’ (北京宠乐会) three years ago, according to Beijing Youth Daily (@北京青年报).

Pet hotels are booming business in cities such as Beijing, where pet owners are often willing to spend pay large amounts of money to give their pet the time of their lives while they are out of town.

Pet hotels are booming business.

When the ‘Happy Pampering Pet Hotel’ gave up hopes of Deng Deng’s owner ever returning, they sued the dog’s owner and demanded compensation for the care provided by them over the past few years.

However, as the Beijing Chaoyang court was not able to track down the owner, they instead put Deng Deng up for auction, so that the dog care center could at least retrieve part of the money owed to them.

The online auction, that is to be held on November 10th, will start at a bidding price of 500 RMB ($72).

Although cars or houses are put up for auction by local courts all the time, it is highly unusual, if not unheard of, for dogs to be put up for auction like this. This is why initially, many netizens thought the news was fake – until they saw the actual court ad.

The ad, under the ‘movable property’ category (动产), describes Deng Deng as being around 40 cm tall, 50 cm long, and weighing about 10 kilograms. The Japanese Inu has been spayed and vaccinated.

At time of writing, the auction ad has been viewed more than 226.000 times, with nearly 2200 people having registered to participate in the upcoming auction.

On Weibo, many people express their sympathies for the little dog, and denounce the owner who never came back for him. “Where is their sense of responsibility?”, many wondered, with some saying: “They should be blacklisted and blocked from ever raising pets again.”

“I really felt sad for the dog,” one person on Weibo wrote: “But I couldn’t help but laugh when seeing he was labeled as ‘movable property’.”

“Deng Deng, I really hope you’ll find a good owner now,” one comment said.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

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©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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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 ©2014-2018


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