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Driver Speeds through Busy Intersection in Guangzhou

The driver, a 22-year-old man, killed 5 people and injured 13 when he drove into people who were just crossing the road in Guangzhou.

Manya Koetse

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Update: Several of the hashtags linked within this article were taken offline after the time of publication.

Five people were killed and 13 others were injured in a traffic incident involving a BMW driving into pedestrians at Tianhe Road in Guangzhou on January 11. The shocking incident went trending on Weibo, where one hashtag related to the topic received over 1.2 billion views before midnight Beijing time (#广州一宝马冲撞人群已致5死13伤#).

The incident happened around 17:25 local time on Wednesday. Videos circulating on Douyin and Weibo show how the black SUV just ploughed his car through the busy street at Tianhe Road/Tiyu East Road, where dozens of people were walking and crossing the intersection. Shortly after the incident, some people could be seen lying motionless on the road.

Another video shows how the car, apart from the intersection incident, also drove into a woman at another intersection and into a person riding on an electric scooter. Later on, the driver could be seen crashing into traffic fences, throwing money out of his car window while driving. The driver then got out of his car and started throwing money bills around. Shortly after, he was arrested.

According to Chinese media, the driver is a 22-year-old male from Jieyang in Guangdong, identified as ‘Wen X.’ The incident is still under investigation.

Just moments before the SUV drove into the people crossing the intersection.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve ever been ashamed to say I come from Jieyang,” one commenter wrote. “I saw the videos and I’m crying, I’m so shocked,” another person wrote: “He must be severely punished.”

Other people called the culprit ‘inhumane’ and ‘devilish,’ saying he does not deserve to live.

Earlier this week, another major road incident that happened near Youlan Town in Nanchang, Jiangxi, killed 19 people and injured 21 others. The incident occurred on the very early morning (0:49) of 8 January, when a truck drove into a funeral procession.

At the time of the incident, a thick fog allegedly reduced visibility, but the incident is still under investigation. According to witnesses, it took the driver of the vehicle several hundred meters to stop after driving into the crowd. Most of the people who were killed in the incident were locals who had attended the funeral.

On Chinese social media, that topic also received a lot of attention this week. Some of the hashtags used to discuss the incident, however, were taken offline.

People wondered why a funeral procession would take place so late at night. Although some commenters suggested it could be due to local customers, others claimed it was related to the long waiting times for funerals at a time of a major Covid outbreak and related deaths.

“It’s too bitter. It’s a tragedy upon a tragedy,” one person commented.

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.

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 Insight

What Happened to Hu Xinyu? Disappearance and Death of 15-Year-Old Student Attracts Widespread Attention in China

Although Hu Xinyu’s school had 119 cameras, his disappearance remained a mystery for 106 days. Near Hu’s remains, a voice recorder was found.

Manya Koetse

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After 106 days of searching, Hu Xinyu’s parents now know their son has passed away. The student’s remains were found at a grain warehouse near his school, but questions still linger on what happened to the 15-year-old and why it took so long to find him.

The case of a Chinese 15-year-old student named Hu Xinyu (胡鑫宇) has been trending on Chinese social media over the past few days. Ever since October of 2022, Hu Xinyu’s case has been a much-discussed topic.

The young man from Jiangxi was missing for 106 days before his body was discovered, leaving many unanswered questions surrounding his death and why search teams were unable to find Hu in the months before.

One of the reasons why Hu Xinyu’s disappearance has been attracting widespread attention is because many people believe there are some details or occurrences surrounding Hu’s case that are purposely being hidden or not revealed to the public.

 
Hu Goes Missing: A Timeline

The story begins on Oct. 14, 2022, when Hu Xinyu, a student at the Zhiyuan Middle School (致远中学), first went missing in Yanshan County, Shangrao City. The Zhiyuan Middle School is a private school where students live in the dorms, only going home to their families on days off. Hu allegedly had good grades as a student at Zhiyuan.

The incident attracted attention due to the peculiar circumstances surrounding it. It was first reported that security cameras allegedly had not recorded the student leaving the school’s premises and that Hu’s family suspected that the security camera system had been tampered with. The school reportedly has a total of 119 cameras installed on its premises.

Later reports claimed that security cameras did in fact capture how Hu left the dorms at 17:51 that day, but there was no footage of him actually leaving the school premises.

On Oct. 15, after unsuccessful attempts by friends and family to locate Hu Xinyu, he was reported as a missing person at the local police office.

On Nov. 20, when Hu had already been missing for over a month, local authorities set up a joint task force to try and speed up efforts to find Hu and further investigate his disappearance. Hu’s social media and bank accounts reportedly had zero activity since he went missing.

On Nov. 22, 2022, Chinese media reported that rescue and search teams still had not found a single clue about where Hu might be. Meanwhile, his parents were gradually losing hope of finding their son back alive.

Missing person posters for Hu Xinyu (via 163.com).

On Nov. 29, 2022, 46 days since Hu went missing, a chemistry teacher by the name of Wang was called in for questioning but he was later released. Weeks later, on Jan. 1, the police informed Hu’s relatives that – despite rumors – they ruled out the possibility of school staff being involved in Hu’s disappearance.

On Dec. 25, 2022, Hu Xinyu’s mother shared some more information via social media about some contents in her son’s old notebooks, in which Hu allegedly had noted how he felt that it was not easy for him to adapt to his living environment at the school and that he felt hindered by his introvert personality. These contents were later deleted again.

After Jan. 7, 2023, the search for Hu continued, including teams with search dogs, and thousands of people volunteered to join.

On Jan. 28, 2023, a body was found hanging near the woods in the Jinji mountain area in the town of Hekou. A voice recorder was also found at the scene.

The body was reportedly found by a local guard who was near the premises with his dog to look for a chicken that had wandered off. The dog started barking at something, and the guard then discovered the remains, which were not immediately clearly visible.

One day later, on Jan. 29, Chinese media reported that DNA research confirmed that the remains belonged to Hu Xinyu. He was wearing his school uniform when his remains were found. Hu’s parents decided to have a post-mortem examination of the body to determine the cause of death. The voice recorder found near Hu’s body was sent for analysis.

The hashtag “Hu Xinyu’s Remains Found” (#胡鑫宇遗体被发现#) was viewed over two billion times on Weibo.

 
The Latest Details Surrounding Hu Xinyu’s Death

Chinese news outlet The Paper reported that the location where Hu’s remains were discovered is a large grain warehouse area just about 300 meters or a 5-minute walk southeast of the Zhiyuan Middle School.

According to a spokesperson of the search & rescue team, the area where Hu was found had been previously included in search efforts (#搜救队曾去胡鑫宇被发现地周围搜寻#).

The biggest questions that remain and that are asked by so many on Chinese social media are: how is it possible that search teams previously did not find Hu if this is where he was all along? Is the place where Hu was found a crime scene or not? How is it possible that security cameras did not capture Hu beyond the dorms?

Some details that surfaced over the past few days provide further information on the case.

On Jan. 31, Chinese media reported that one of Hu’s teachers had discovered something written down by Hu Xinyu on the last page of his notebook: “What would it be like if I’m not longer here?” (#胡鑫宇曾写如果我不活了将会变得怎么样#).

It has also become known that Hu Xinyu purchased the voice recorder that was found with his remains. He purchased the 4GB-capacity recorder on October 4, 2022.

At the time of writing, the data on the recorder was not able to be retrieved (#胡鑫宇购买录音笔数据删除后无法恢复#). A recording device such as the one found near Hu’s body might become damaged due very low or high temperatures or by moist and liquid (#胡鑫宇录音笔已送深圳检测#).

A recording device that allegedly is similar to the one found near Hu Xinyu.

If the original manufacturer would be able to get the data on the recorder, Hu’s relatives finally might get some of the answers they have been waiting for for so long.

According to Hu Xinyu’s father, search and rescue staff previously had in fact been inside the grain warehouse premises, but apparently did not come to the exact location within the warehouse area where Hu was later found (#胡鑫宇父亲称未到达遗体发现点#).

On February 2nd, 2023, a press conference on the latest developments is planned to take place in Yanshan county in Shangrao at 10:00 AM. (Update: read about the press conference here).

 
Societal Distrust, Armchair Detectives, and Social Media

There are multiple reasons why the Hu Xinyu case is attracting such wide attention, and in some ways, the case is similar to the 2021 ‘Chengdu 49 Middle School Incident.’

At the time, the death of 16-year-old Lin Weiqi (林唯麒) also attracted nationwide attention and led to a wave of online rumors and theories on what might have happened to him.

Although Lin never went missing – he fell to his death from the school building, – there was also online speculation about corporal punishment and abuse taking place in the school, with one theory suggesting Lin had been hurt by a chemistry teacher. Just as in the Hu Xinyu case, netizens speculated that the school was trying to cover up the incident.

According to a joint statement later issued by the local propaganda department, police, and the Education Bureau said that they had come to the conclusion that the student had taken his own life due to personal problems.

The Lin Weiqi story sparked concerns at a time when security cameras had become a part of everyday lives. The fact that there were blind spots in the surveillance footage and that cameras never captured how and if Lin actually took his own life triggered doubts among Lin’s relatives and netizens alike.

The case surrounding Lin’s death also attracted nationwide attention in May of 2021.

Many reasoned that since there are security cameras all over the school, there must be a cover-up going on if the incident was not captured on camera. A similar thing happened in the case of the Tangshan BBQ Restaurant Incident in which female customers were assaulted and beaten by a group of men. Although the beating incident was captured by security cameras, the last part of the incident occurred at a nearby alley and was not captured by the outdoor security cameras. This led to a lot of speculation on what happened there and if local government officials were covering something up.

Another factor that plays a role is that there have actually been stories about schools or other institutes covering up scandals in recent years, such as in the RYB Education incident of 2017 that shocked the nation and did not help in improving trust in educational institutes.

Social media also plays an important role in how and why the Hu Xinyu case received so much attention. For some online communities of armchair detectives, identifying suspects and uncovering clues becomes like solving a puzzle, while following the latest details in these high-profile cases also becomes like a form of infotainment for others – comparable to the online sleuthing and major attention for the case of Gabby Petito in the U.S.

Furthermore, those who are closely related to the case also use social media to attract more attention. In Hu Xinyu’s case, his family members personally turned to social media and media reporters to ask for help or update with information. This also makes social media users more involved since they get the feeling they know the family, and sympathize with them. Very different from just reading a headline in the local newspaper, social media users feel involved and get involved.

For now, many social media users would like to see some clarity in this case and a conclusion so that Hu’s family can finally get some of their questions answered.

While many think it is highly likely that local authorities will soon come out with a statement that Hu committed suicide, others think there might still be other outcomes.

“It’s lasted long enough now,” some Weibo commenters write: “What is most important now is to finally know the truth.”

READ UPDATE TO THIS STORY HERE.

By Manya Koetse 

with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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

 
For information and support on mental health and suicide, international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
 

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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 Arts & Entertainment

“Hideous” and “Scary”: Giant Chongqing Rabbit Lantern Gets Roasted by Residents

More rabbits are getting roasted this year. This giant Chongqing rabbit was removed after sparking criticism for being ugly.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this month, the design of the latest zodiac stamp by China Post when viral after the little blue rabbit with red eyes and human hands triggered controversy for being “monster-like.” Now, another rabbit is criticized for its questionable design. This time, it concerns a giant rabbit lantern in Chongqing.

The giant rabbit lantern appeared at Sanxia Square in Chongqing’s Shapingpa District. As the Year of the Rabbit is about to start, huge rabbit decorations have popped up all over China.

But this particular Chongqing rabbit was received with disapproval from residents who said it looked uncanny and so ugly it almost made them cry. “Giant Chongqing rabbit lantern gets roasted for being scary,” Beijing Headlines wrote (#重庆巨型兔子灯被吐槽吓人#).

The rabbit is different from a more standard and cute cartoon rabbit, as it has human-like eyes and eyebrows and a serious expression on its face. Its body has festive orange, green, and yellow colors.

Although its design was not received well by many, others also said they liked the more traditional paper cutting-style of the rabbit.

“I don’t think it’s ugly,” one person commented: “But it’s certainly not pretty.”

Nevertheless, it was apparently decided that the bunny needed to go, and workers came to Sanxia Square to get rid of the rabbit lantern (hashtag #被吐槽吓人巨型兔子灯已被拆除#).

The district management committee told Chinese reporters on January 18 that they gave orders to dismantle the lanterns after receiving reports from residents that the giant rabbit was “appalling” (#官方回应巨型兔子灯被吐槽吓人#).

In the case of the blue rabbit stamp, a mascot that was specially designed to celebrate the launch of the zodiac stamp and the Year of the Rabbit was also discarded after people said they found the red-eyed rabbit “rat-like” and “horrible.”

Earlier this week, an art sculpture created by artist Xu Hongfei (许鸿飞) which is displayed inside Guangzhou Airport, also became a topic of discussion on Chinese social media as many could not appreciate the work of art and its representation of women. Airport management is reportedly now “investigating” how to deal with the controversy and the sculpture itself (#机场回应大厅雕塑被指有损女性形象#).

The Shanghai Morning Post (新闻晨报) wrote a post about the rabbit incident on Weibo, in which the newspaper – that falls under the Shanghai party newspaper Jiefang Daily – implicitly criticized the way in which both the blue rabbit stamp and the colorful Chongqing rabbit have recently come under fire and how the situations were handled.

“Give creativity some room!”, the news outlet wrote, arguing that rabbits aren’t always only “cute,” and that works that are more innovative, unique, and creative inevitably will cause some controversy because they make more impact and people have different views on what is considered beautiful and what is considered ugly.

Simply getting rid of artworks or public installations because many people don’t like them is unconstructive and a waste of public resources, according to the post. It would be better to actively engage in conversations, in the earlier phases of a project, but also once a work of art is already completed and if it is met with some controversy, the post argues; let people think about it, explore it, reflect on it – but do not just cover it up, tear it down, and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Although some Weibo commenters applauded how Chongqing authorities listened to the people, others did not agree with the rabbit being removed because people thought it was ugly: “What are you taking it down for? If it’s ugly, just let it be ugly, at least it’s unforgettable!”

In light of the discussion, other social media users, including Zhihu user ‘Hǎiniú móumóu’ (海牛眸眸) and Weibo blogger Kai Lei (凯雷), took the initiative to make a collection of other rabbits on display in Chinese cities for the Year of the Rabbit. Some of them made the Chongqing rabbit look perfectly normal.

Such as the cyberpunk rabbit on display in Zigong.

Or the peaceful bunny from Quanzhou.

The big-eyed Nanjing one.

The Shanghai angry, boxing bunny.

But the one in Nanning takes the crown, as it left people utterly confused (#南宁兔子灯被嘲羊不羊兔不兔#).

“I guess you can’t please everyone,” one Weibo user wrote: “But you can displease everyone.”

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Zilan Qian

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

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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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