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China and Covid19

Foreigner Clashes with Chinese Security Guards for Not Wearing Mask at Park in Taiyuan

“In China, you speak Chinese.”

Manya Koetse

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This article has been updated on August 29, scroll down for the latest.

A clash between a foreigner and security guards in Taiyuan has attracted the attention of Chinese netizens this weekend, with the Weibo hashtag “Foreigner Expelled from Park for not Wearing Mask” (#老外未戴口罩进公园被驱逐#) receiving over 120 million views on Sunday.

The incident happened on August 27, when a foreigner allegedly tried to enter a public park without wearing a mask and then clashed with the local guards. When they denied him entry to the park, the man sat down and scolded the guards.

The video shows the man giving the finger to one of the guards, saying: “F*ck you, sir. You are racist.”

The guard repeatedly asks the man to leave, and then also demands that he stops speaking in English: “In China, you speak Chinese.”

While some people in the crowd are filming the incident, others are also getting involved, yelling: “You should wear a mask!”

On social media, the incident triggered discussions. While the majority of commenters praised the guards for strictly enforcing rules, there were also those who sided with the foreigner, pointing out that the video showed there were also other people in the park without a mask who apparently did not get in trouble for it.

One popular Weibo blogger named Wuzhishuo (@吴志硕) wrote: “Judging from this video alone, there are a whole lot of people who aren’t wearing masks, and the security guards don’t care, but they particularly care about this foreigner. The foreigner is not wrong for protesting that. Secondly, what is the logic of having to speak Chinese in China? Do we also have to speak Thai when we go to Thailand?”

After this blogger was criticized for taking this stance, they further elaborated on why they wrote this, giving four reasons why the foreigner was not necessarily wrong.

First, Wuzhishuo argued, the guards seemed to purposefully single out the foreigner over not wearing a mask while there were also Chinese not wearing one. Second, it was unreasonable for the guards to demand that the foreigner would speak in Chinese, as it would anger and insult the Chinese people also if they were requested to speak the language of every country they visited. Third, the blogger wrote, there is a general tendency to always blindly side with the Chinese whenever there is a conflict involving a foreigner, regardless of the situation. “That is not patriotism,” Wuzhishuo wrote, “On the contrary, it tarnishes China’s international image.”

Finally, the blogger mentions that the measure of wearing masks when entering the park in itself is also “meaningless” since nobody cares if people take off their masks once they have entered the park. “This kind of control is simply for the sake of control,” Wuzhishuo writes: “These meaningless epidemic prevention measures deserve to be condemned, regardless if it’s by a Chinese person or a foreigner.”

There are more people on Weibo who – partly – agree with this stance, writing: “The mask is an epidemic prevention measure, but asking someone to speak Chinese is unreasonable.”

But many people do not agree, telling the foreigner to leave and go back to his own country: “In China, you follow Chinese rules. Is that racism? Wake up! You thought you were still in the China from a century ago?”

This is not the first time that conflict arises between unmasked foreigners in China and local Chinese. In Xi’an, a foreign woman who did not wear a mask at the station in 2021 also gave local staff the finger (#外籍女子拒戴口罩冲乘客竖中指#).

At the time of writing, the Chinese media outlets that shared the Taiyuan viral video did not provide further details or context about the incident.

UPDATE MONDAY AUGUST 29:

The foreigner in question has responded to this incident via his social media accounts, both on Weibo and on Twitter, where he also posted a video that he filmed that day.

The man, a French national living in Taiyuan for over ten years, denies that the incident has anything to do with not wearing a mask. Instead, he says the incident was triggered due to the park guards refusing his nucleic acid test results. On Twitter, he posted:

“Today in Longtan garden (龙潭公园) in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, I was denied entrance. The discrimination was racially motivated. I scanned my code and I showed my 42nd nucleic acid test results I took 2 days ago. But no. For a racist security guard, I was of the wrong race (..) multiple people assaulted me while all I did was protesting the racial discrimination I was being the victim of by this racist security guard. The police took a very long time to arrive, almost half an hour, even though the police station is nearby. I told the police I would refuse to move until they first arrest for assault and battery the people who attacked me and the racist security guard. But the police used physical force to take me out of the park, put me in a police car and they brought me to the police station. Why?”

Read his entire thread here.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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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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  1. Avatar

    Zuzana

    September 4, 2022 at 9:03 pm

    “In China, you speak Chinese.” Then continue to close all of your English cram schools etc. When I was in Osaka, a rude Mainland man told a young Japanese woman working in a touristy shop in Shinsaibashi she should know Chinese! Yeah, OK.

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China and Covid19

The “Final Round Players” of China’s Covid Outbreak

Those who still haven’t had Covid have made it to the “finals,” but it’s not always easy to stay positive about still testing negative.

Manya Koetse

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This Chinese Lunar New Year period, as millions of people are traveling across the country, Hangzhou Daily (杭州日报) posted a video on Weibo of a 13-year-old boy dressed in full protective clothing at the Hangzhou train station.

The young man told the reporter that he was on his way to visit his grandparents for the Chinese New Year. When asked why he was dressed in protective clothing from head to toe, he answered: “Because I haven’t had Covid yet.”

According to the video posted by Hangzhou Daily, the boy has made it to the “Final Rounds” (决赛圈) as he has managed to stay Covid-negative at a time when so many people have already been infected with Covid-19 (#挺进决赛圈的男孩穿防护服坐火车#).

Since China ‘optimized’ the last stringent measures of its ‘Zero Covid’ policy back in early December – including an end to mandatory mass testing, – a wave of Covid infections spread across the country. The number of infections and emergency department visits reportedly reached its peak in late December of 2022 and in early January of 2023.

According to Wu Zunyou (@吴尊友ChinaCDC), chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of China’s population has now been infected with Covid (“这一波疫情已经使得全国约80%的人感染过”).

As it is getting rarer to come across someone who has not had Covid yet, travelers dressed in full hazmat suits and protective gear are bound to stand out. “So many people on the train, and there are still two people in the crowd wearing protective clothing,” one Weibo user from Guangdong wrote. Others also post photos on social media of some of the few travelers still fully dressed in protective gear.

One blogger photographed a child wearing protective clothing at Chongqing West Station on Jan. 24, calling the protective attire “exaggerated,” and wondering how the child was supposed to go to the toilet.

Photo posted on Weibo by @杨品-光线摄影学院 on Jan 24., 2023.

Traveler wearing protective clothing at Hangzhou East Station, photo by @百鸣老屈.

Hangzhou Daily is not the only media outlet dubbing those who managed to stay negative “final round players” (决赛圈选手). In early January, Beijing Daily (北京日报​​​​) and People’s Daily (人民日报) also published a short article using the same phrase. In the article, the Beijing expert physician Dr. Li Dong (李侗) answered some questions about the so-called ‘finalists.’

According to Dr. Li Dong, some of the people who claim to have managed to stay ‘Covid free’ were never infected due to protective measures. But there are also those who may have actually had Covid-19 without realizing it, as they barely had any symptoms or were completely asymptomatic.

“Final round players, protect yourself!” one Weibo commenter writes: “Who else has managed to reach these finals?”

“As a ‘final player,’ I finally went out to eat and visit the shopping mall today. I’ll have to wait and see if I reach the championship level. If I haven’t caught [Covid], I can go on and lead a normal life; if I did catch it, I’ll need to wait a while, and will also be able to lead a normal life.”

Other persons who did not have Covid yet also share on social media that they went out for the first time during this Spring Festival period: “I cautiously went out and saw my first movie in 2023, Wandering Earth II, I picked a morning screening so that the cinema is not so crowded yet.”

Now that the Covid infections in China have peaked and the number of infected critically ill patients is quickly dropping, the fears over catching Covid are also seemingly fading among those who were not yet infected.

But some people who have not had Covid yet are still being careful, especially if it concerns elderly family members. It’s not always easy to stay positive about still testing negative – also for loved ones who did previously have Covid and want to protect their family.

One Fujian-based social media user writes: “I recovered from Covid and I’m spending the Spring Festival with three ‘final round players.’ We’ve been stuck inside the house for days. I’ve been looking at the lanterns and the lights in the neighborhood, watching them from the balcony, and I really wanted to go down and see.”

“Looking at WeChat Moments, all my friends are out traveling, but my family still hasn’t had Covid and we’re afraid to go out,” another netizen writes: “It’s sad to celebrate the New Year without going out. Guess we’re final-round players now, let’s hope it brings good things.”

Meanwhile, the group of ‘finalists’ is still shrinking. One Weibo user from Guangxi wrote: “I’ve left the finalist circle. It’s only been two days since I returned to my hometown and I’m already infected.”

By Manya Koetse 

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China and Covid19

Video Shows Real-Time “Departure” Information Board at Chinese Crematorium

From “cremation in process” to “cooling down,” the digital display shows the progress of the cremation to provide information to those waiting in the lobby. The crematorium ‘departure’ board strikes a chord with many.

Manya Koetse

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A video showing a live display screen announcing the names and status of the deceased at a Yunnan crematorium has been making its rounds on Chinese social media, from WeChat to Weibo, where one version of the video received over 1,7 million views.

Somewhat similar to a real-time platform departure display on train stations, the screen shows the waiting number of the deceased person, their name, gender, the name of the lounge/room (if any) for families, the name of the crematorium chamber, and the status of the cremation process. Below in the screen, it says “the final journey of a warm life” (温暖人生的最后旅程).

For example, the screen displays the names of a Mr. Chen and a Mr. Li; their bodies were in the process of being cremated (火化中), while other cremations were marked as “completed” (完成) or “cooling down” (降温中).

Through such a screen, located in the crematorium lobby, family members and loved ones can learn about the progress of the cremation of the deceased.

The video, recorded by a local on Jan. 7, received many comments. Among them, some people commented on the information board itself, while others simply expressed grief over those who died and the fragility of life. Many felt the display was confronting and it made them emotional.

“It makes me really sad that this how people’s lives end,” one commenter said, with another person replying that the display also shows you still need to wait in line even when you’re dead.

“I didn’t expect the screens [in the crematorium] to be like those in hospitals, where patients are waiting for their turn,” another Weibo user wrote. “It would be better if the names were hidden, like in the hospitals, to protect the privacy of the deceased,” another person replied.

Others shared their own experiences at funeral parlors also using such information screens.

Another ‘departure display’ at a Chinese crematorium, image shared by Weibo user.

“My grandfather passed away last September, and when we were at the undertaker’s, the display was also jumping from one name to the other and we could only comfort ourselves knowing that he was among those who lived a relatively long life.”

“Such a screen, it really makes me sad,” another commenter from Guangxi wrote, with others writing: “It’s distressing technology.”

Although the information screen at the crematorium is a novelty for many commenters, the phenomenon itself is not necessarily related to the Covid outbreak and the number of Covid-related deaths; some people share how they have seen them in crematoriums before, and funeral parlor businesses have used them to provide information to families since at least 2018.

According to an article published by Sohu News, more people – especially younger ones – have visited a funeral home for the first time in their lives recently due to the current Covid wave, also making it the first time for them to come across such a digital display.

The online video of such an information board has made an impact at a time when crematoriums are crowded and families report waiting for days to bury or cremate their loved ones, with especially a large number of elderly people dying due to Covid.

On Jan. 4, one social media user from Liaoning wrote:

I really suggest that the experts go to the crematoriums to take a look. There is no place to put the deceased, they’re parked outside in temporary containers, there’s no time left to hold a farewell ceremony and you can only directly cremate, and for those who were able to have a ceremony, they need to finish within ten minutes (..) At the funeral parlor’s big screen, there were eight names on every page, and there were ten pages for all the people in line that day, I stood there for half an hour and didn’t see the name of the person I was waiting for pop up anymore.”

As the video of the display in the crematorium travels around the internet, many commenters suggest that it is not necessarily the real-time ‘departure’ board itself that bothers them, but how it shows the harsh reality of death by listing the names of the deceased and their cremation status behind it. Perhaps it is the contrast between the technology of the digital display boards and the reality of the human vulnerability that it represents that strikes a chord with people.

One blogger who reposted the video on Jan. 13 wrote: “Life is short, cherish the present, let’s cherish what we have and love yourself, love your family, and love this world.” Among dozens of replies, some indicate that the video makes them feel uncomfortable.

Another commenter also wrote:

I just saw a video that showed an electronic display at a crematorium, rolling out the names of the deceased and the stage of the cremation. One name represents the ending of a life. And it just hit me, and my tears started flowing. I’m afraid of parting, I’m afraid of loss, I just want the people I love and who love me to stay by my side forever. I don’t want to leave. I’m afraid I’ll be alone one day, and that nobody will ever make me feel warm again.”

One person captured why the information board perhaps causes such unease: “The final moments that people still spent on this earth take place on the electronic screen in the memorial hall of the funeral home. Then, they are gone without a sound.”

 

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By Manya Koetse 
with contributions by Zilan Qian

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.

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