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Hangzhou Nanny Sets House on Fire, Killing a Mother and Her Three Children

A high-profile arson case in Hangzhou has become a focus of attention for Chinese netizens. The person suspected of starting the fire, that killed a mother and her three children, is the family nanny. Because of the family’s wealth and the nanny’s poor background, many people connect the crime to class struggle.

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A high-profile arson case in Hangzhou has become a focus of attention for Chinese netizens. The person suspected of starting the fire that killed a mother and her three children, is the family nanny. Because of the family’s wealth and the nanny’s poor background, many people connect the crime to tensions over China’s poor-rich divide. The topic was viewed over 51 million 200 million times on Saturday June 26, but later disappeared from Weibo’s ‘trending search’ list.

On June 22, a mother and her three children died in a fire on the 18th floor of a luxurious high-rise building in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

Shanghai Daily reported on Thursday that the fire broke out in the early morning around 5.00. The mother saw the fire and then alerted the nanny, asking her to run and seek for help. The nanny escaped the fire and survived. The husband was away on a business trip.

The children were two boys aged 11 and 6, and one girl of 9 years old.

The three children killed in the fire, photo was shared on Weibo by family members.

On Saturday, police confirmed that the fire was started deliberately. The family’s nanny is the main suspect in the case. She has been detained for suspected arson. A photo of the nanny has been released and is circulating on Weibo. The nanny is the 34-year-old Jing X. from Dongguan, Guangdong.

The woman allegedly confessed to setting some things on fire in the living room with her lighter.

The topic “Hangzhou Nanny Sets Mansion on Fire” (#杭州保姆纵火豪宅#) was viewed over 51 million times on Weibo on June 24, making it one of the most-viewed topics of the day.

Because the affected family is very rich, and the nanny comes from an impoverished background, many netizens link the case to tensions over the gap between the rich and poor in China.

 

“There had been a dispute between the two just before the fire occurred.”

 

A family member named Zhu Qingfeng (朱庆丰), the brother of the deceased mother, told Red Star News on June 24 that the nanny was hired last year through an intermediary.

Although the relationship between his sister and the nanny was generally good, there had been a dispute between the two just before the fire occurred; his sister suspected the nanny of stealing her 300,000 yuan (±43,860$) watch.

An insider told Red Star News that Jing X. often went to Macao to gamble. She frequently lost a lot of money and struggled with gambling debts. Chinese news outlet The Paper (@澎湃新闻) also writes that the nanny had turned to loan sharks because of her gambling debts.

The husband and father of the family told media that his wife previously borrowed the nanny 100,000 yuan (±14600$).

 

“From hating the poor to hating the rich, why has the public debate changed to this?”

 

The ‘Hangzhou Nanny Arson’ debate on the class difference between the affected rich family and the penniless nanny has two sides: some use the nanny as a reason to attack all poor people and their moral standards, others argue that the nanny’s lower class status pushed her over the edge.

“This is not about a person’s position [in society], it is about right and wrong. If you look at news events, first look at who is right and who is at fault. You can’t say that because someone comes from a poor family we should first sympathize with them, or that there is any justification [for their deeds] because of it,” one female netizen responds.

“You can’t blindly sympathize with poor people,” another person writes: “Poor people often have lower morals than richer people.”

Many netizens refer to the story of the farmer and the snake (农夫与蛇), in which a farmer takes pity on a snake that is freezing in the snow, and picks it up to place it in his coat. The snake, revived by the warmth, then bites his rescuer, who dies realizing that it is his own fault. They say the nanny is like the snake.

“The Hangzhou nanny arson case has become a reason for some people to attack the poor. But the income of this nanny was actually quite generous, more than what many white-collar workers receive. So you can hardly say that this has to do with her being “poor”, she just has no humanity. From hating the poor to hating the rich, why has the public debate changed to this?” one author named Yu Xi writes.

The debate on social media grew more intense later on Saturday, with some commenters saying they did not care about the fatal arson because “it concerned rich people.”

 

“Relatives and neighbors all stressed that there were still people trapped inside the house, but the property security seemed indifferent.”

 

Although many people say the nanny should be sentenced to death, there is also a large group of people who call on the apartment building’s property management to come forward on why there were no proper fire safety measures.

“The persons who have died are my aunt and my cousins,” one Weibo netizen says. The person, nicknamed Juying Guowang (@巨婴国王) has been trying to draw attention to this case on Weibo since Thursday.

The scene of the fire. Image via http://www.zxtzx.com/news/a/201706/139592.html.

They explain:

“In order to wipe out the traces of theft, the nanny set some things on fire, resulting in a fire that got out of control. There was supposed to be an alarm, but it did not go off. Around 5.30, mind you, 5.30 (!!), family members rushed to the scene downstairs. At that time, the property security had not only not taken any rescue measures, but they also barred family members from getting closer to the scene. When the firemen arrived at the scene, they didn’t have enough water because the water pressure on the 18th floor was not high enough. Eventually, they had to pump up water from the first floor. Relatives and neighbors all stressed that there were people trapped inside the house, but the property security seemed indifferent. It took them until after 7.00 to get them out. 7.30! In these 2 hours, we couldn’t save them, and they had this and that delay before they could come to the rescue?! We had to wait how our relatives choked in the thick smog and couldn’t do anything.”

Many others blame the property management for the fatal ending to this fire. The fact that the apartment building is known as an expensive and luxurious one only adds to the anger. As one worried netizen says:

“The management is definitely to blame. These people pay a lot of money for their mansion, are they not buying a comfortable and safe home? With land and property so expensive, why is there no fire alarm and sprinkler system? The more you think of it the more frightening it gets. What about all the people living there now, aren’t they facing the same safety hazards?”

 

“We just want the truth! Why must you control the public debate?”

 

Many commenters on Weibo simply express their sympathies for the family. “Such a tragedy, my heart just sinks looking at this news,” a typical comment said.

One person writes: “I hope the victims rest in peace. Whoever is responsible for this must carry their burden. At a minimum, the departed and their families deserve to have justice.”

Perhaps because of the staggering amount of comments and shares of this news story, the online censorship and control on this story grew stronger on Saturday night. The topic also suddenly disappeared from the top trending lists, much to the dismay of many Weibo netizens.

Husband and family members of the deceased ask for justice, holding up pictures of the children.

“We just want the truth!”, an angry Hangzhou resident writes: “Why must you control the public debate? Why are people spreading rumors everywhere? Why is this no longer on the trending search list? This is a very horrible event, and any attempt to cover it up is very ugly.”

By Manya Koetse

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©2017 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, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. huazai

    June 29, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I feel so sad for the death and chinease government.

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China Health

10-Year-Old Girl from Jiangsu Commits Suicide For ‘Not Doing Well at School’, Leaves Farewell Video

“This is something I have to do,” the 10-year-old told her parents in a video message.

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News of the suicide of a young girl by self-poisoning has shocked Chinese netizens. Pressure at school, circumstances at home, and the ease of availability of pesticides in China have all potentially contributed to the girl’s death.

A 10-year-old girl from Xuzhou city in Jiangsu province died this week after self-poisoning in her own home. She left behind a 3-minute video and a 2-page farewell letter to her family, Beijing News reports through Weibo.

In the video, the girl calmly says: “Mum, dad, I’m off. I want to tell you I am sorry. I want to go to heaven, and want to bid you all farewell.”

“When my birthday comes up, don’t forget to place a cake in front of my grave. (..) Thanks mum and dad, for taking care of me all these years.”

“You beat me and you scold me,” the girl added: “But I know it is all for my own good. I will take care of you from heaven. I don’t want to let you down. This is something I need to do.”

The young girl stated in her farewell message that she wanted to go to heaven because she was “not doing well at school.”

Too Much Pressure

According to Sina News, the young girl died after drinking pesticides on November 14 – just 3 days before the mid-term exams would be held at her school.

The girl reportedly was receiving low grades this semester and was punished for it by her teacher, who did not want her to take part in the mid-term exams because she would allegedly bring down the average grade of the whole class.

Her mother told Chinese news outlet The Paper that the pressure at school might have led to the child’s suicide.

According to a 2010 study, one third of Chinese primary school children suffer from psychological stress because of the pressure at school and their parents’ expectations.

In November of 2014, the suicide of a 10-year-old boy from Guangzhou after his mid-term exams also shocked netizens. The boy, who received just 39 points for an English exam, hung himself after writing about his low grade in his diary.

A year prior, in 2013, another 10-year-old committed suicide by jumping from a building after being scolded by a teacher after failing to complete an assignment.

Pesticide Suicides in China

Suicide is the top cause of death among Chinese youth; school stress is often a major factor. But in the case of the Jiangsu girl, the availability of pesticides might also relate to her death.

“When I was that age, I also thought of committing suicide,” one person on Weibo wrote: “I found a person through QQ who could sell me pesticides. He asked 900 for it [±135$] and I thought it was too expensive so I didn’t buy it. I don’t even know how I’m still alive now.”

Suicide by pesticide poisoning is the most common method of suicide in China, both for males and females. Pesticides are readily available, especially in China’s rural areas, where the occurrence of self-poisoning are much higher than in urban areas (Page et al 2017).

A recent study published in BMC Public Health this year (Yimaer et al 2017) found that pesticide poisoning for children is a serious problem in China. In the 2006-2015 period, a total of 2952 children were poisoned by pesticides in the province of Zhejiang alone.

Weibo Discussions

On Weibo, the young girl’s death has led to many discussions. Some people blame the parents for the girl’s death, others say that Chinese children are too pressured by the school system. There are also those who do not believe that such a prepared suicide could really be the work of a 10-year-old alone, and wonder if someone perhaps made her do it.

“At 10 years old, she does not even grasp the what death is,” some say.

There are also people who share their own childhood problems. “When I was that age I also had suicidal thought,” one commenter writes: “But I never had the courage. She is more courageous than I am.”

On November 16, the local education department stated that authorities are currently further investigating the case.

By Manya Koetse
@manyapan

References

Page, A., Liu, S., Gunnell, D., Astell-Burt, T., Feng, X., Wang, L., & Zhou, M. 2017. “Suicide by pesticide poisoning remains a priority for suicide prevention in China: Analysis of national mortality trends 2006–2013.” Journal of Affective Disorders, 208(November 2016): 418–423.

Yimaer A., Chen G., Zhang M., Zhou L., Fang X., Jiang W. 2017. “Childhood pesticide poisoning in Zhejiang, China: a retrospective analysis from 2006 to 2015.” BMC Public Health 17(1): 602.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 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

Reporter’s Smiling Selfie at Scene of Horrifying Accident Triggers Anger on Weibo

“This is no laughing matter” – A happy selfie at the scene of a grave accident triggers anger on social media.

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A young woman smiling at the scene of a horrible accident in Anhui Province have left thousands of netizens angry.

Local media reports in China blame a “sudden fog” for a horrifying accident at an Anhui expressway that killed at least 18 people and injured 21 others on Wednesday morning. The multiple collision caused over 30 vehicles to pile up, NDTV reports.

Multiple collision in Anhui, November 15 (Image by CCTV).

Dramatic footage (CCTV video, Youtube) taken at the scene, near Fuyang city, shows that multiple trucks and cars caught fire after the collision and how rescue workers are at work to verify casualties.

A presenter poses at the scene of the accident with a big smile.

The gravity of the accident did not stop a local Fuyang reporter, however, from taking smiling selfies at the scene. The woman, a presenter at Fuyang’s Yingxiang Traffic Radio (@颍上交通音乐广播), makes a peace sign and holds her badge as she happily poses in front of burnt out cars. A man in uniform is standing next to her in one of the photos.

The photos were posted on Weibo by multiple accounts, one belonging to a female netizen who is a local resident from Fuyang, Anhui. She writes:

At 7.45 in the morning of the 15th, 30 vehicles collided, leaving 18 people dead and 21 wounded. Yet this Fuyang Radio presenter poses at the scene of the crash with a man in uniform grinning from ear to ear. Don’t you have a conscience? Don’t you have any personal integrity in your work?

One of the first people to share the photos on Weibo is a local Fuyang resident.

The pictures triggered thousands of angry reactions on Weibo. A typical comment by an anonymous netizen said:

She has no humanity at all. So many people have died, and she is still playing around with selfies, is that human? Just seeing this scene, my heart feels so upset. I hope the relevant authorities in Anhui will teach her a lesson.”

Many of the people commenting to the issue said they were also from Fuyang and grieved by the accident and the woman’s behaviour at the scene. Fuyang is a prefecture-level city in Anhui with more than 7,5 million inhabitants.

Scene of the crash, photos from Weibo.

On Wednesday evening, the presenter in question uploaded a video in which she apologizes for her actions. “Hello everybody I am Ling, and I want to sincerely apologize for what has happened today,” she says: “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

The woman named ‘Ling’ apologized in an online video on Wednesday night.

In the morning of November 16, the Fuyang Traffic Radio station posted an announcement on social media denouncing their colleagues’ behavior, stating that her employment at the station has since been terminated.

The Fuyang radio station announced on Weibo that the woman is no longer working for them.

This is not the first time a smiling photo at the scene of a serious accident goes viral on Weibo. In 2012, a local Shaanxi official made headlines when he was photographed laughing at the scene of a traffic collision that left 36 people dead.

The photo of the “smiling official” instigated a ‘human flesh search’ with people on Weibo researching his identity and background. His expensive watches drew the attention of netizens, who eventually exposed him as a corrupt official.

The ‘smiling official’ at the scene of an accident that left 36 people dead. (Image via Chinasmack)

On Weibo, many people do not understand how someone can be smiling under grave circumstances: “Is she braindead? How could you ever laugh when 18 people just died?”

There are also a few people, however, who feel the presenter is criticized too harshly by the online community. One person writes: “Give the girl a chance. People make mistakes.”

Others remind the people discussing this issue to focus on the victims of the accident instead: “We hope they can rest in peace.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

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

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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 info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2017

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