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Holiday Chaos: China’s Scenic Areas Overcrowded and Dangerous

As millions of people are flocking to China’s most scenic areas during the national holiday, some spots are so chaotic and packed that they form a potential safety hazard to visitors.

Manya Koetse

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Millions of Chinese use the National Holiday period to go out and visit some of China’s most scenic spots. But some areas are so crowded and unorganized that the situation is perilous. On Weibo, people complain about the security hazards of China’s overcrowded tourist attractions.

As people across China are celebrating the Golden Week holiday, the country’s scenic spots are packed with tourists.

Huge crowds formed a potential safety hazard at the Seven Small Arches (Xiaoqikong) scenic area in Libo County, Guizhou (image via Weibo).

This year, many people on Weibo are especially complaining about the situation at the Seven Small Arches (Xiaoqikong) scenic area in Libo County, Guizhou.

On Sunday, Pear Video reported on Weibo that the roads leading to the sightseeing spot were so jammed that some foreign tourists decided to get out their car to play a game of frisbee on the expressway.

On Monday, the situation seemed even worse, as some Weibo netizens posted that the extreme crowds in the area led to people being stuck for over three hours in the heat, with no available food or water, and no people to manage the situation.

Not just the roads to the area were jammed, people were also stuck within the area waiting for buses – sometimes for two to three hours, according to visitors’ reports.

“Such a chaos!” some visitors wrote online: “And no staff members to maintain order, no mechanisms to respond to emergency situations.”

One netizen (@小蜗牛牛儿) posted a that a SWAT team eventually came to the scene to check on the situation.

“First I drive 3 hours to Libo, then it still takes me 3 hours to actually reach the scenic spot, then I catch a glimpse of the Seven Small Arches and the day was gone like this. You really don’t control this well, you shouldn’t let in so many people,” one person complained on Weibo.

“Of all the scenic attractions I’ve ever visited, the Seven Small Arches left the worst impression on me,” netizen (@飞骑引雕弓2016) said: “We waited for two hours on the rocks in the heat before we could get on the bus, people are getting heatstroke this way!”

“This is the first time I experienced a traffic jam within a scenic spot!” another commenter, who also visited the area on Monday, wrote on Weibo.

“The Seven Small Arches area is receiving too many visitors, creating huge congestion. People are currently fighting to get on the bus,” another visitor wrote, warning local authorities about the potentially hazardous situation.

China’s scenic spots yearly attract attention for becoming too crowded during the national holiday. During these days, places such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and many other tourist attractions are so crowded that people can hardly move.

The Seven Small Arches Xiaoqikong scenic spot covers an area of 10 square kilometers, and is known for its karst forest, beautiful scenery, and numerous waterfalls.

A young woman from Sichuan posted on social media: “I understand that there are a lot of people here. But it’s past six o’clock and we’ve been waiting for over an hour for the tour bus to pick us up and it hasn’t come. So many people here and it’s soon getting dark, we’re over ten kilometers away from the exit and cannot walk so far. We don’t have food and it’s hot. Nobody is answering on the complaint line, and still, the entrance ticket to the park is so expensive!”

On Monday night, other visitors posted that they had been waiting for over four hours in the dark for a bus to pick them up from the scene.

“I will never come back here,” they wrote.

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.

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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    Richard Smith

    November 19, 2017 at 12:24 am

    I’ve just returned from researching tourism in some of China’s best known tourist sites — Hua Shan, Jiangjiashie, Guilin, the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Suzhou, Hangzhou and others. China has many beautiful natural features that have not yet been destroyed by overdevelopment, many beautiful parks and gardens, and a still a few old villages and cities. But they’re all being overwhelmed by way too many people and incessant overdevelopment. A couple of weeks ago a Chinese friend and I visited Yu Garden in Shanghai. He grew up in Shanghai and used to go there on Saturday mornings as a child in the 1950s and 60s with his grandfather. They would spend a couple of hours in near solitude, contemplating the beauty of the rocks, lakes and nature. The garden was ideal for meditation and in those days one could do that. But today even on a regular week day, not a holiday, the place is mobbed with masses of Chinese tourists posing for selfies every ten steps. Meditation or even just enjoying nature is the last thing one can do there. The same can be said with nearly every other tourist site i visited. A visit to tourist sites really brings home the fact that China is massively overpopulated. Moreover, what with “market reform” every site charges admission. Not cheap either. Even to visit a dirty public beach in Guilin you have to buy a ticket. So everywhere you go there are “cattle pens” to regulate long queues of people buying tickets, getting on buses or cable cars up the mountains and so on. Then there is all the trashy commercialism, the KFC junk food, etc. etc. Of course these problems are not limited to China. I live in the middle of New York City. This place is nothing if not massively overpopulated. Go the the Eiffel Tower or Venice or any tourist site in Europe and many in the U.S. The world doesn’t need a one-child policy. It needs a NO-child policy for a few generations to get the human population back down so some reasonable sustainable level so that we don’t completely destroy the last of the natural world. I certainly don’t support compulsory population reduction but I see no reason why, with adequate social security arrangements, we can’t provide economic and other incentives to people to have just one or even forego having children so future generations can live in a sustainable, harmonious, beautiful world instead of an overpopulated, market-driven world verging on ecological collapse.

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China Local News

Knife-Wielding Woman Goes on Rampage at Guixi Primary School

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground.

Manya Koetse

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A woman in Guixi, a county-level city in Jiangxi’s Yingtan, has been taken into custody after stabbing people at a primary school on Monday, May 20, around noon. The incident resulted in at least two fatalities and left ten others injured.

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground, victims of the woman’s stabbing rampage at the Mingde Primary School in Guixi’s Wenfang.

The incident immediately attracted significant attention on Weibo, where netizens not only commented on the tragedy of innocent children being involved in such a horrific crime but also on the unusual fact that the suspect is female; as typically, perpetrators of such crimes are male.

Others also questioned why the school security guards were not present to prevent such an incident and how the woman managed to gain access to the school grounds in the first place.

The 45-year-old female suspect is a native of Guixi. It’s reported that she used a paring knife to carry out the stabbing attack on the school premises.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities called on blood donation centers in Guixi to extend their opening hours, and local residents started queuing up to donate blood to help out the victims who are still being treated for their injuries.

Another question that lingers is why the woman would commit such an atrocious crime. People suggest it is bàofù shèhuì (报复社会), a Chinese term that translates to “retaliate against society” or “taking revenge on society.”

Baofu shehui is often cited as a type of criminal motivation for knife-wielding incidents in China, particularly those occurring at schools, where individuals with personal grievances and/or mental health issues commit these extreme crimes. Such incidents have happened multiple times in the past, notably between 2010 and 2012, during a series of elementary school and kindergarten attacks.

Different from these kinds of attacks in Europe or the US, it often involves older perpetrators who are disillusioned, frustrated, and alienated from their communities amid rapidly changing social and economic conditions in China.

But for many netizens, such a possible motivation does not make sense. Some commenters wrote: “Taking revenge on society should never be done by venting one’s anger against children.”

Others wish the worst upon the perpetrator. One popular comment says, “I hope she gets the death penalty, and that the victims’ families get to execute her.”

By Manya Koetse

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China Insight

Red Cross Society of China in Bad Light Due to Online Rumors after Gansu Earthquake

Even though the rumors surrounding the Red Cross might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

Manya Koetse

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A handwarmer for 500 yuan ($70), a tent for 2200 yuan ($308), a blanket for 100 yuan ($14)? An online list detailing items supposedly procured by the Gansu Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts has ignited controversy on Chinese social media in recent days. Although the Red Cross has denied all rumors, the incident underscores public skepticism towards the organization.

After the devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Jishishan (积石山), a county in China’s Gansu Province’s Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, on December 18, Chinese social media platforms were flooded with news related to the disaster. The overnight earthquake killed at least 148 people and left hundreds injured.

News of the earthquake resonated deeply throughout the country, and the ongoing search and rescue operations and relief efforts, hindered by landslides, ruined infrastructure, and freezing temperatures, have attracted major attention online.

While much of the discourse revolves around the goodness of the people contributing to charities and doing all they can to help victims in the affected areas, there is also public distrust surrounding the motives of some charities or helping organizations that might use the disaster as an opportunity to make a profit.

One hotly debated topic revolves around the Red Cross Society of China, after a list surfaced online of items allegedly purchased by the Gansu Red Cross for relief efforts in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake.

Image published on Weibo via Red Cross Society of China (@中国红十字会总会).

The procurement list raised controversy due to the high prices of the common items listed, and because of a supposed “management fee” (管理费) of 1.6 million yuan ($224k).

In response, the Red Cross refuted these claims, asserting that they had not issued any such list (#甘肃红十字称没发布任何物资清单#). On December 24, the Gansu Red Cross took to Weibo (@甘肃省红十字会) to clarify that the circulating information was “grossly inaccurate.” They assured the public that all donations would directly aid earthquake relief efforts, without incurring management fees.

The Red Cross statement on Weibo.

Even though the procurement list might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

“Why does the Red Cross end up in the top trending lists every time?” one commenter wondered: “Their information should be more transparent and timely.”

Others also suggested that merely denying the rumors was not enough, and that they hoped that the Red Cross would provide more details and information to show netizens, of whom many donated money, how their charity money is being spent to help relief efforts in the affected areas in Gansu and Qinghai.

The fact that the Red Cross Weibo post did not allow any commenting did not help: “Why are you afraid to let us openly discuss this?”

 
Red Cross Society of China: Tainted by Suspicion
 

The Red Cross of China, the nation’s largest charitable organization, continues to grapple with a tarnished reputation that partly stems from the 2011 “Guo Meimei Incident.”

Guo Meimei (郭美美), whose real name is Guo Meiling, became an infamous internet celebrity in the summer of 2011 after flaunting her excessive wealth online whilst claiming to work as a “commercial general manager” for the Red Cross Society of China.

The issue severely eroded the society’s credibility, which has been designated by the government as the central public donation organization during times of disasters (Cheng 2016). From luxury handbags to sports cars, the 19-year-old Guo showed off her money on Weibo, and quickly went viral on various message boards as people were angered over corruption and potential misuse of charity money.

Guo Meimei

Despite efforts by the Red Cross Society to debunk these rumors and distance itself from Guo, speculations persisted. Many speculated about Guo’s potential ties to the organization, even if she did not officially work there. As highlighted by Cheng (2016), the public’s negative sentiment toward the Red Cross triggered “a chain of credibility crises” and even spread to other charitable groups in China.

During the 2020 Wuhan Covid outbreak, the Red Cross faced scrutiny for allegedly stockpiling public donations of medical supplies in warehouses rather than promptly distributing them to frontline medical personnel facing shortages.

The current allegations against the Red Cross of China in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake also echo other past controversies, such as the one they dealt with after the 2008 Sichuan quake. Red Cross officials were then also accused of misusing donations by purchasing needlessly expensive tents and vehicles.

 
Donations for the ‘Underdog’: The Han Hong Foundation
 

The growing public distrust towards the Red Cross has arguably paved the way for other Chinese charities to gain prominence. A prime example is the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation (韩红爱心慈善基金会), established in 2012 by renowned Chinese folk singer Han Hong (韩红, 1971).

Although Han Hong has been engaged in charity for many years, during which she invested a lot of her own money, the charity she established became more known after the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation was committed to aid efforts during the Wuhan Covid outbreak in 2020 and the Henan floods in 2021.

Han Hong (center), picture via Xiaohongshu fan of Han Hong.

After the earthquake in Gansu on December 18th, Han Hong’s organization immediately organized rescue teams and provided people in the affected areas with clothes and (medical) supplies. Hang Hong was able to rake in millions thanks to her reputation of being compassionate and altruistic, as well as through her strong network in China’s entertainment industry, leading numerous Chinese celebrities to support her relief efforts.

But Han Hong’s organization is also affected by the public distrust surrounding charity in China. On December 23, it was rumored that her Charity Foundation was officially asked to leave the disaster area as well as to hand over a portion of their donations.

The foundation refuted these claims by issuing a statement on December 25 (#韩红基金会辟谣#).

Statement by Han Hong Love Charity Foundation refuting rumors that their charity work was hindered by officials.

In the public view, there seems to be a big difference between perceptions of large entities like the Red Cross and other ‘official’ charitable organizations versus smaller, more independent initiatives like the Han Hong foundation, which operates as a private charitable entity.

Reflecting on the rumors surrounding both the Red Cross and Han Hong’s foundation, one Weibo commenter noted: “These rumors come into existence because so many of these so-called charitable foundations actually treat charity as their business. And so, they become ‘competitors.’”

Meanwhile, Han Hong’s organization stresses that it operates under the guidance and oversight of the party and government, and only provide emergency support through their support.

In online discussions on the power of the Red Cross versus Han Hong’s organization, some commenters suggest that it is time for the government and authorities to reflect on why a private organization would be more trusted than the Red Cross, a government organized NGO.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “What Han Hong does is true charity instead of business.” Another person replied: “The biggest disaster here is actually the erosion of public trust.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Cheng, Yang. 2016. “Social Media Keep Buzzing! A Test of Contingency Theory in China’s Red Cross Credibility Crisis.” International Journal of Communication, June 2016: pp. 3241+.

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