Many netizens become angry when seeing violent school videos popping up on Chinese social media: “Ten girls holding a steel pipe in their hands, participating in an armed confrontation. This scum of the earth should be chopped to death!” – is one comment on March 22, in response to a video where a group of girls are captured on video beating other girls with steel pipes.
It is just one of many examples of violent videos that have surfaced on Chinese social media practically every day over the last year.
Weibo Violence (#微博曝料#)
According to Baike, China’s equivalent to Wikipedia, ‘Campus Violence’ (校园暴力) refers to any type of violence on schools and the campus, either between students, students and the teacher, or student’s vandalism on the school premises. Campus violence is no longer simply the problem of the school; it has become the focus of public attention, especially now that more and more cases are caught on tape and spread on social media.
Many bullying videos expose how young girls are beating on other girls. One video shared on March 23 shows how two girls are repeatedly hitting one girl in the face. But there are also other types of confrontations. Another video that was shared on March 22 was that of some high school students beating their teacher with a chair in the classroom.
According to one netizen called ‘Happy Warm Brother‘ (happy热哥) who posted the video of the classroom confrontation, the incident occurred at a middle school in Lianping county, Guangdong.
Many commenters react in shock: “These boys should be immediately expelled!” and “Such scum!”. By noon of March 23, the video was shared nearly 1000 times.
‘Weibo Violence’ (#微博曝料#), ‘Campus Violence’ (#校园暴力#) or ‘Exposing Campus Violence’ (#校园暴力曝光台#), have been recurring online topics over the past year. In November 2015, a video of a schoolgirl getting kicked in the stomach surfaced online and caused quite some controversy. Since then, this kind of violence has been a daily topic on Weibo, with one after the other video coming out. Some also include sexual assault, with girls tearing off the clothes of their victim and kicking on a naked girl.
Sina Weibo recently described the phenomenon of bullying videos as follows: “Lately, videos and news of campus violence has appeared online again and again. They are a serious disturbance of school order and a pollution of student’s healthy studying environment. It’s bringing a bad influence to schools and society at large.”
Not another one!
China is dealing with a real epidemic of school violence. As CNN reported earlier, the emergence of these kinds of violence is connected to different factors, including peer pressure, broken families, feelings of insecurity and increased time spent online.
According to the NoBullying movement website, boys and girls act differently when bullying. Girls commonly form girl groups to gang up on their victim to show that they are in control or to gain popularity. They are also more inclined to make cruel jokes and pranks to embarrass or humiliate the victim. This might play a role in the fact that there seem to be more Weibo violence videos of girls bullying on girls than those of boys.
Although the extreme bullying video’s have become a recurring topic of discussion, the online censorship on these kinds of video’s is weak to non-existent – they are freely shared on video platforms Youku or Miaopai and then shared through WeChat or Sina Weibo.
“Not another school violence video!” – a netizen called Zhong Yuejuan (钟学隽) responds when Weibo user Zhou Licheng (周李城), who focuses on school violence, posts another shocking violent video: “There’s another one every day, when will we come up with a way to deal with campus violence?”
Chinese netizens have started using the hashtag ‘Urgent action to implement laws’ (#迫切呼吁立法#) to address the problem of bullying in schools.
The anti-bullying shout outs of social media users have not gone unheard, as the prevention and punishment of this kind of violence has increasingly become a topic of focus for Chinese government and state media.
Stopping the Violence
Bullying videos and Weibo violence were a ‘hot topic’ during this year’s plenary sessions (lianghui), where committee members called for higher punishments and a better legal system to counter campus violence, Chongqing Evening News columnist Shi Heming (史鹤鸣) writes on March 22.
Part of the reason why bullying is such a big issue in China is that the perpetrators barely face legal consequences, and that the problem culturally is not seen as a serious one. As China Daily writes about bullying: “Few offenders receive proper punishment in China. In most of the cases that do not involve severe physical harm, the only “punishment” offenders receive is criticism from schools. As for parents, most of them consider bullying incidents as “small fights” between their children, and it is precisely because of such an attitude that bullying cases have not declined in China.”
In the Chongqing Evening News, Shi pleads for a better use of existing Chinese laws. Although children under 14 years of age cannot receive criminal penalties in China, minors from 14 to 16 years of age can be punished for theft, assault and manslaughter. From 16 years on, they can be punished like adults. According to the law, Shi pleads, there are ample possibilities to punish bullies for their violent deeds. Besides punishment, there should also more focus on the prevention of these kinds of violent acts.
In Phoenix News, author Xie Zhusheng (叶竹盛) also pleads for halting campus violence by making the culprits carry more responsibility for their deeds.
Chinese politician and Minister of Education Yuan Guiren recently made a statement about China’s school violence problem, saying that the laws will be adjusted so that bullies will be able to get stricter punishments.
“They should’ve done this earlier,” one Weibo user responds: “The law should protect those children who need it the most.”
On this page we have listed some bullying videos that are written about in this article. They contain graphic content, that may be disturbing to some viewers.
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Weibo’s Digital Graveyard: Remembering the Dead on Chinese Social Media
‘The Dead’ honors the deceased and tries to break existing taboos on death in China.
“My grandmother passed away due to illness in 2016. She was 78 years old. My grandmother was a kind soul. She married my grandfather after his divorce. They had never even seen each other before [her] mother and father prepared the marriage, and yet she lovingly cared for him her entire life.” This eulogy was posted on Weibo on February 12th of this year.
Within hours after it was posted, over 100 people had replied with the most popular emoji for these type of posts: the candle.
Since 2011, thousands of these kinds of posts have appeared on Weibo, one of China’s biggest microblogs, thanks to “The Dead” (@逝者如斯夫dead), an account run by a small team dedicated to memorializing the deceased. Through their online memorials, they have encouraged conversation of a taboo topic.
HUNTING FOR THE DEAD ON WEIBO
“We wanted to provide a place for people to remember those who had passed away”
Starting small, ‘The Dead,’ which borrows its Chinese name from the Confucian phrase “All passes like a river” (逝者如斯夫 Shì zhě rú sī fū), has amassed over half a million followers. “We wanted to provide a place for people to remember those who had passed away,” a team member recently explained to What’s on Weibo.
Weibo users typically contact the account requesting eulogies about their deceased loved one, but such direct requests were rare just a few years ago. Instead, the account started by hunting for the dead among Weibo’s pages. They searched for signs of a user’s passing, like comments about mourning, and then monitoring the account for inactivity.
‘The Dead’ told What’s on Weibo that “while at present most of our information comes from Weibo users,” its team will still “go through the deceased’s page…looking through comments in the discussion section and asking about the user’s current condition” to confirm a death and glean facts for a memorial posting.
Few of its half a million followers personally know the people in the obituaries. But their reaction to its eulogies reveals a deep and often emotional connection to the topic of death.
“Every now and then I go to their page and scroll through the memorials,” one follower writes: “Those people, who were so full of life, passed away just like that. It’s so moving that sometimes I scroll until my eyes fill with tears.”
Another follower comments: “Whenever I’m feeling low I go and scroll through [the page], it always calms me down. I’ve been very inspired by it, thank you.” For many Chinese, such an open discussion of death would have been unthinkable in the past.
DEATH AS TABOO
“This taboo has an independent power in shaping human action”
Every culture confronts death differently and few do it well. Traditional Chinese culture shunned discussions of death, notes Cheris Shun-Ching Chan, professor of sociology at Hong Kong University.
Chan believes that Confucian silence on questions of death and folk Buddhist references to “a dark world (yinjian) and a cruel hell (diyue)” account for the topic’s avoidance. She also points to fears that a premature death could mark the end of one’s lineage (Chan 2012,37).
Chan’s survey research found that avoidance of any discussion about death was so widespread that it had become taboo. “The taboo manifests as an observable avoidance of the topic,” Chan writes, “particularly unexpected, accidental, or premature death, among not only the elderly but also the generation in their late 20s and 30s” (Chan 2012,36).
While religious belief waned during the tumult of the 20th century, the taboo persisted. “Today, this taboo has an independent power in shaping human action,” Chan argues: “In other words, one does not need to hold beliefs about hell, the dark world, ghosts, evils, and precipitating death in order to observe the taboo” (2012,38-40).
Stifling discussion about death has consequences, big and small. Individuals unwilling to acknowledge death are reluctant to write wills or register as organ donors. Respecting the death taboo, doctors avoid delivering a terminal diagnosis to patients, informing family members instead.
One news story from 1993 exemplifies this taboo on death; when residents near China’s first hospice care center protested the presence of death in their neighborhood, matters turned violent. They started shattering the center’s windows, driving doctors and their patients from the center in the middle of the night. As the health needs of China’s population evolves with its economic growth, the death taboo threatens much more.
In a rapidly aging China, people live longer and deaths cost more than ever before. The World Health Organization reports that eight of the top ten causes of death in China are now due to non-communicable diseases.
As deaths caused by accidents and communicable diseases have dropped, death by stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer have jumped double digits and with that jump, a commensurate increase in the costly treatments of these diseases.
A 2013 study of the cost of non-communicable disease on the Chinese economy predicted that between 2012-2030, China will spend 27.6 trillion dollars remedying non-communicable disease. The death taboo threatens to leave China unprepared to care for a population living longer thanks to better medical care but dying at higher rates of chronic illness.
Health care in China is free, to a point. According to the Economist, China’s national health-insurance system caps reimbursements for treatment of serious chronic illness like heart disease and end of life care. The death taboo poses a risk to families in a country where it is still considered unfilial by many to pursue a course of treatment other than one meant to cure the patient.
Hospice care, which should be cheaper, is rarely considered and seldom available. While hospice care is now part of the standard course of treatment for end of life care in EU and North America, the death taboo undermines demand for the service. This, in turn, removes pressure on medical insurers to provide hospice coverage. Insurance coverage for hospice care is so limited that families are forced to pay out of pocket for most hospice care.
“Everyone ought to admit death’s existence and face up to its realities”
Addressing these challenges starts with acknowledging death as a part of life. “People have slowly become more willing to discuss death,” the Weibo ‘The Dead’ team observes: “You can see this in Weibo users openly posting about the passing of loved ones.”
Beyond Weibo, the account’s rejection of the death taboo has also found powerful allies elsewhere. In Beijing, Chen Yi and Luo Ruiqing, children of prominent CCP members, launched the Beijing Living Will Promotion Association, advocating for individuals and families to openly discuss and plan for end of life care.
Yi and Ruiqing explain to Caixin that watching the slow and painful death of their parents with few options for palliative care moved them to take action.
Their website provides information to help individuals decide about the kind of end of life care they want and how to ensure their wishes are followed through the use of a living will, a standard feature of Western health care but new to China.
In Shanghai, Wang Ying, a psychologist who now specializes in end-of-life, is taking a different approach to addressing the same problem. Ying founded Hand in Hand, an organization that encourages individuals to openly discuss their deaths as a form of preparation.
Like Yi and Ruiqing, Ying’s determination to challenge the death taboo stemmed from her conviction that repressing a discussion about end of life care and death causes his elder relatives needless suffering at the end of their lives.
Noting the rising interest in their Weibo account, ‘The Dead’ has recently started a Wechat mini app where users can send manage their own memorials and share them with others. The team believes that Weibo and Wechat allow them to reach out to a large audience all over the country.
They admit, however, that problems of economic disparity have limited their reach, and guess that most of their subjects and contributors are urban dwellers. Still, they are hopeful that their work can help change many people’s perspectives.
“Everyone ought to admit death’s existence and face up to its realities,” they say: “Working hard to live with an understanding of death is a lesson every Chinese person must learn.”
By Brydon Brancart
References (other sources in-text through hyperlinks)
Chan, Cheris Shun-Ching. 2012. Marketing Death: Culture and the Making of a Life Insurance Market in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Chinese Netizens Discuss: “Do You Say ‘Thank You’ to the Food Delivery Man?”
To say thank you or not to say thank you, that’s the question.
There are not too many people whose dream job it is to work long shifts, going out in hot summers and cold winters, to make sure people get the food they ordered as fast as possible. Nevertheless, there are a few million Chinese on the road every day, going through congested traffic and bad weather, to deliver customer orders on time. It should be enough to receive a simple ‘thank you,’ but Chinese netizens do not seem to agree on the subject.
Recently, the topic of whether or not to thank the food delivery person for delivering an order became a trending topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo, where the hashtag “Do We Need to Thank the Delivery Man” (#该不该跟外卖员说谢谢#) generated over 430 million views and triggered nearly 110.0000 reactions.
The discussions started because of a post by Weibo-user Lanxi (阑夕), who publicly responded to the 2018 annual courier employment report by Meituan (2018外卖骑手就业报告). Meituan Dianping is a major Chinese food delivery service, that has some 380 million users. On his Weibo account, Lanxi wrote:
“At the end of the year, Meituan sent a questionnaire to 120.000 of its couriers, asking them what they would want to say to their customers. The three things that scored highest were: (1) Please answer your phone in time, (2) please provide the accurate delivery address, (3) please say thank you when accepting the delivery.”
The post continued with Lanxi writing that he also had something to say to the food delivery man: “(1) Please don’t spill soup in my delivery bag. (2) Please don’t spill soup in my delivery bag. (3) Please don’t spill soup in my delivery bag.”
The “thank you debate” soon blew up on social media, with many commenters arguing that saying ‘thank you’ is just basic manners.
One popular reaction on Weibo read: “We should respect every profession. Thanking somebody won’t kill you, it just shows you have good manners.” Another typical comment on Weibo said: “Saying thank you is not an obligation, saying thank you is the way I was brought up.”
But there were also many commenters who feel that personally thanking the deliverymen is unnecessary, arguing that customers pay for this service and that it is their duty to deliver the food (on time), not a favor they are doing you.
“I am paying the deliveryman, so what do I have to thank him or her for? You don’t thank your boss every time you get your salary, do you?”, one Weibo user responded.
“I’d be willing to say thank you,” another commenter wrote: “But not if you tell me to say thank you.”
“My brother always says ‘thank you’ to them, but I don’t. I feel like they are just completing their job, and I don’t feel like interacting with them.”
Other commenters say it depends on the attitude and service of the delivery person; if the delivered soup has been spilled, or if they are very late in delivering, they feel they do not need to thank them.
Being a delivery person is not an easy job. In the past couple of months, two stories of Chinese deliverymen struggling on the job went viral. In one case, a delivery man was filmed being in tears in a shopping mall after an order was canceled for which he had waited for an hour.
In another story, a young delivery guy was caught crying in the pouring rain for over 20 minutes, until an old men came up to him and offered him an umbrella. The young man had allegedly discovered a package was stolen from his delivery cart.
These stories usually lead to online discussions in which people urge others to treat deliverymen with more respect.
In recent years, the Chinese food delivery market has seen staggering growth, with Meituan Waimai (美团外卖) and Ele.me (饿了么) being market leaders. In 2018, Meituan alone employed over 2.7 million food delivery staff, half a million more than the year before.
“It’s just two characters: xie xie [谢谢],” one commenter says about saying ‘thank you’: “What’s the problem with saying them?!”
By Gabi Verberg
 After the discussion blew up on social media, the Meituan research report was further inspected by netizens. In the report, it says that the delivery staff’s wish that customers would say “thank you” actually comes in the 8th place of surveyed wishes, not in the third place.
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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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