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China Memes & Viral

Video Filmed in Chinese IKEA Store Causes Consternation on Weibo

For some people, IKEA apparently feels a little too much like home.

Manya Koetse

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Note: This article has been altered after the original publication date in order to stay compliant with Google policies.

A video of a woman filming herself in an IKEA store in China has gone viral among Chinese social media users.

In the video, a woman is filmed while engaging in some solo activities while within an IKEA store while regular customers are shopping in the background. The video is rumored to have been filmed at the store’s Guangzhou location.

In the 2-minute video that is making its rounds, the woman is first posing on an IKEA sofa without any pants on while another person films her.

Another shot shows her lying down on an IKEA bed and ‘petting the cat’ with multiple customers passing by in the background, seemingly not noticing the woman’s behavior.

[image has been removed]

In a third scene, the woman continues to ‘scratch the record’ within one of the store’s showrooms.

Since the video has spread across Chinese social media like wildfire, IKEA China released a statement on its Weibo account on May 9th, in which it condemned the video.

The Swedish furniture company stated that it is “committed to providing home inspiration for the public” and strives to provide a “safe, comfortable, and healthy shopping experience and environment” for its customers. IKEA further writes it “firmly opposes and condemns” the video.

In 2015, a similar incident went trending on Chinese social media regarding a video of a couple filming themselves going wild in a fitting room at the Sanlitun location of Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo.

Many people wondered at the time if the viral video was actually a secret marketing campaign meant to spice up the image of Uniqlo – something that was denied by the chain.

Later on, five people were arrested over the tape and the personal details of the woman in the video were revealed and shared by Chinese web users.

“This is the 2020 Uniqlo,” one commenter said about today’s IKEA controversy.

Although IKEA has filed a police report against the people involved in the making of the video that has now gone viral, the identities of the woman and her accomplice are not yet known or revealed at the time of writing.

Some netizens suggest the video was filmed some time ago – in the pre-COVID-19 era – since the people in the background are not wearing face masks.

The controversy has not made the IKEA brand any less popular on Chinese social media – on the contrary. On Weibo, thousands of web users have posted about the issue, with many flocking to the IKEA Weibo account to comment.

Underneath an IKEA post promoted with the brand’s slogan “Your Home, Your Way” – that now seems a bit dubious – people are leaving all sorts of comments about the video.

Although some people express anger over the woman’s behavior, there are also many people who seem to find the controversy somewhat amusing, and many others who want to know where they can find the video.

“I’m asking for a friend,” is one of the comments that is currently recurring the most in threads about the video.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
With contributions from Miranda Barnes
Follow @whatsonweibo

Featured photo by Jueun Song on Unsplash

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©2020 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.

China Celebs

Barbie Hsu, Wang Xiaofei, and the Mattress Incident: Weibo’s Divorce Drama of the Year

The post-divorce fight between Wang Xiaofei and ‘Big S’ Barbie Hsu is taking place online, like a serialized drama going on for too long.

Manya Koetse

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It’s the messy divorce drama that just keeps going: Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu (‘Big S’) and mainland Chinese businessman Wang Xiaofei got divorced last year and recently aired their dirty laundry on social media. Even the expensive mattress the couple once shared suddenly became the focus of public attention.

One of the biggest celebrity topics on Weibo recently is the divorce drama between Taiwanese actress and tv host Barbie Hsu (Xu Xiyuan 徐熙媛, also known as Big S/大S) (45) and her former partner, Chinese mainland businessman Wang Xiaofei (汪小菲) (41).

In June of 2021, ‘Big S’ and Wang announced that they were in the process of divorce. The two were married for over a decade, since March 2011, and have two children together, an eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

Less than a year later, in March of 2022, Barbie Hsu tied the knot with her former flame, South Korean musician DJ Koo Jun-Yup.

In November of this year, ‘Big S’ accused her ex-husband of failing to pay alimony since March of 2022. The accumulated amount reportedly had reached more than NT$5 million (US$160,000). The court ruled that some of Wang Xiaofei’s assets in Taiwan will be seized.

Wang Xiaofei then publicly responded to the accusations and aired the dirty laundry about the aftermath of the separation from Hsu.

Everyone and everything got involved afterward, from Wang’s mother to Barbie Hsu’s sister, and brother-in-law – the entire family got dragged into the drama.

The former couple’s old mattress even got dragged out for everyone to see. Meanwhile, Chinese netizens were eating popcorn and staying online to watch the divorce drama unfold.

Here is a timeline of what has happened.

 
▶︎▶︎ In the morning of November 21, Taiwanese media first reported that ‘Big S’ had accused Wang Xiaofei of not complying with their divorce agreement and had not paid alimony since March of 2022 and that Barbie Hsu had already taken legal steps to enforce the court order.

Via her lawyer, Barbie Hsu issued a statement about the matter, which went absolutely viral on Weibo. One post including the statement received over one million likes (#大S发声明稿#).

In the statement, dated November 21, ‘Big S’ expressed hopes that the dispute between her and her ex-husband could be solved as soon as possible for the sake of the children.

 
▶︎▶︎ Wang Xiaofei publicly responded to the issue in over twenty angry and emotional posts on his Weibo account (@汪小菲), where he has over seven million followers.

Wang, who is based in Beijing, complained about being smeared and not being able to see his children. According to Wang, he paid more than enough – millions – for child support and maintenance. He wrote he was unwilling to pay for an electricity bill that is not his after paying for the house where Barbie Hsu is living in and the custom-made mattress she is sleeping on, which allegedly cost him over US$320,160.

Photoshopped meme showing Wang carrying a mattress.

“Someone else is living there, fine,” he wrote: “Can you at least change the mattress, you wimp? Still letting me pay for the f*cking electricity bill.”

When Wang vowed to personally go back to Taiwan, some commenters reminded him not to forget to bring back his mattress.

Meme on the right shows Wang Xiaofei with his mattress.

(It later turned out that Wang did not fly to Taiwan after all.)

 
▶︎▶︎ Wang Xiaofei claimed that Mike Hsu (Xu Yajun 许雅钧), husband of Barbie Hsu’s sister and Taiwanese tv host Dee Hsu (徐熙娣 aka ‘Little S’ 小S) has a mistress (#汪小菲发博曝许雅钧养小三#).

 
▶︎▶︎ Wang Xiaofei’s mother Zhang Lan (张兰) got involved in the drama and posted a lengthy statement on her own Weibo account on Tuesday, November 22.

Zhang Lan (@张兰俏江南创始人) is a billionaire business woman and the founder of the upscale restaurant chain South Beauty Group. She has her own livestream e-commerce channel.

Zhang accused her former daughter-in-law ‘Big S’ Barbie Hsu of hurting her son, not letting her see her grandchildren, while also caller her a liar and even suggesting she is a bad mother.

Zhang also accused her and her younger sister, Dee Hsu (徐熙娣), of having a history of drug abuse.

 
▶︎▶︎ On November 23, Barbie Hsu defended herself against drug abuse allegations in a social media post, stating both her and her sister suffer from bad hearts and are not even able to use drugs.

 
▶︎▶︎ The mother of Barbie Hsu and Dee Hsu also got involved, talking to the media and complaining that she has been scolded by Wang Xiaofei’s mother Zhang Lan, and saying that Wang and his mother are more than welcome to see the children; they would just need to come over in order to meet with them.

 
▶︎▶︎ November 23 became ‘Mattress D-day’ after it became known that Barbie Hsu had delivered the much talked-about mattress to the S Hotel in Taipei, which Wang owns (the hotel was named after ‘Big S’ in 2017). As reported by Taiwan News, the hotel’s general manager surnamed Lee (李) claimed the mattress arrived on Tuesday, and he stated that discarded mattresses are professionally destroyed.

On that Wednesday, the S Hotel held a press conference and allowed Taiwanese media to film and photograph the mattress being destroyed by workers.

The hashtag “Taiwan Media Live-Broadcasts the Handling of Wang Xiaofei & Big S Mattress” #台媒直播汪小菲大S床垫处理过程# went viral on 23 November, receiving over 270 million views on Weibo in one single day. A 23-minute video showed Big S’s mattress carried out of the hotel and being completely cut open by several men as a crowd of media stands by.

Some on Weibo said: “The drama is too much.”

 
▶︎▶︎ On Mattress Day, Wang posted again on social media, claiming that he had lost his temper after Hsu sued him for not paying alimony. As reported by Taiwan News, he wrote: “I don’t want to say anything anymore, burn the damn mattress, it’s all in the past, let’s not attack each other anymore.” The post was deleted soon after.

 
▶︎▶︎ With the mattress incident going viral, many netizens soon guessed that if it was about such an expensive mattress, it must have been one by the Swedish Hästens company.

Hästens (海丝腾) itself then responded to the drama via Weibo with an older video that showed its mattresses are of such good quality that they will never go up in flames.

Hastens video comparing a different brand mattress to its own mattress; one will go up in flames, the other will not.

Hastens’ post received nearly 20,000 likes on Weibo.

 
▶︎▶︎ On Thursday, November 24, Wang Xiaofei’s mother Zhang Lan seized the opportunity to start selling mattresses on her livestream shopping channel (#张兰卖床垫#).

Besides all the personal drama, Zhang commercially profited from the current developments. According to recent reports, she did a total of nine live broadcasts from November 21 to 23, and saw 820,000 new followers flocking to her channel, with an average of 5.3 million viewers per livestream, and up to 25 million RMB ($3,5 million) in sales.

 
▶︎▶︎ On the same day, as reported by Singaporean Yahoo News, Wang Xiaofei declared that he wants to end the conflict with his wife, only to later delete the post from his Weibo account. Somewhere in all this, Wang also accused Big S of cheating on him since 2018.

He reportedly wrote: “I don’t want to say anything anymore. The mattress is burned. It’s over. We won’t hurt each other anymore.”

By that time, the drama was so big on social media that some netizens wrote: “I can’t wait for Wang Xiaofei to be gone from my timeline!”

 
▶︎▶︎ On November 25, Wang Xiaofei started a livestream while laying in his bed, offering viewers a look into his private bedroom. He seemed to be pleased about getting so many views and some suggested he seemed to be drunk. During this livestream, an unknown woman suddenly seemed to lay down beside him, making the livestream comments explode. The livestream stopped shortly after.

 
▶︎▶︎ Another character stepped on this stage. Chinese actress Gina Zhang (Zhang Yingying 张颖颖) went online to defend Wang (who may be her good friend or something more), saying he is on the verge of a mental breakdown. She also wrote that she hoped to convince him to stop sharing all of his struggles on public platforms for the entire world to see.

She also turned out to be the woman in the livestream. Over 250,000 people liked her post.

 
▶︎▶︎ Meanwhile, Barbie Hsu publicly posted bank account statements from 2016 to prove her financial independence and that she had paid for the downpayment of their house at the time herself.

 
▶︎▶︎ On December 3, again another hashtag related to this divorce drama came out, getting up to 200 million views in a day (#大S再婚头纱是刷汪小菲信用卡买的#).

The trend relates to the story of ‘Big S’ reportedly asking Wang to leave his credit card after the separation, and that the veil that she wore during the wedding with her second husband, among other things, was bought with Wang’s credit card.

On the same day, Wang’s mother Zhang Lan again commented on the issue in one of her livestreams, saying that Wang and Barbie Hsu officially are not even divorced yet since their marriage was registered in Beijing and had not been dissolved yet (#张兰说大S和汪小菲还没有离婚#).

 
▶︎▶︎ On December 4, the hashtag “Wang Xiaofei or Big S – Who Is Telling Lies?” (#汪小菲大s谁在说谎#) went viral, getting an astonishing 560 million clicks on Sunday.

It is clear that two former have actually ruined their reputation by airing their dirty online like this. This especially matters for Big S, who used to do commercials for many brands.

“It’s like we’re watching a theater play,” some said.

Others are also tired of their drama dominating social media topics: “I don’t care which one is lying, I care about their kids.”

“This serialized drama is going on for too long now,” others wrote.

This is not the first big celebrity divorce drama to go viral on Weibo. In 2021, there was the big fall-out between Wang Leehom and Lee Jinglei. The separation between actor Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong became one of the biggest trending topics on Weibo of all time.

Meanwhile, some netizens can’t seem to get enough of the drama: “From the mattress to the veil, I’m just enjoying the spectacle.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China and Covid19

Out of the Closet: After Protests in China, “Political Coming Out” Trend Spreads Across Social Media

Some suggest that a ‘political coming out’ is even more important than the other kind of ‘coming out.’

Manya Koetse

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This week, WeChat groups across China have seen many discussions following an unrest-filled weekend. In the lively online discussions about the phenomenon of ‘politically coming out,’ many agree that it is sometimes more complicated to show one’s political orientation than to come out regarding one’s sexual orientation.

After a nationwide wave of protests, the word “political coming-out” (zhèngzhì chūguì 政治出柜) has become a popular one on Weibo, WeChat, and beyond.

The term refers to people showing their political position or views to those around them, usually in social media settings (“online political coming out” 线上政治出柜).

In Chinese, ‘chūguì‘ (出柜) literally means ‘to come out of the closet’ and is generally used for those coming out as gay or revealing their sexual orientation.

On Weibo, there are numerous discussions this week about ‘coming out politically.’

Chinese internet users talk about a surge in people, mostly within WeChat groups, coming out about their political orientation and views in light of recent developments. On December 1st, one Yunnan-based blogger said that it felt as if WeChat was seeing a large-scale ‘political coming out’ across friend groups, which sometimes almost seemed like a ‘personality coming out.’

Some people suggest that it is a good idea to show your political views every now and then. One popular comment said: “After all the political coming-outs happening in family, neighborhood, and business [WeChat] groups, I feel I can relax a little bit. Now we know how many people were in the closet.”

Another person agrees: “Now that I’ve come out of the closet politically, I feel so much better.”

One older, popular blogger (@好叨叨还是少叨叨) wrote:

“Every other few months or so you can ‘come out politically’ in your Wechat friend groups and use it as an opportunity to clean up your [contact] list. I’d rather not see those who will blacklist me sooner or later anyway, and it takes the pressure off of things for everyone. After all, I’m not young anymore, and I don’t need so many friends who don’t share the same principles. Of course, others will also see me like that.”

“Don’t be discouraged that parents, partners, and children do not always see eye to see – let alone friends. Even if these are close friends that you share tears and laughter with, they are still not walking in your shoes and do not experience the world as you experience it. As long as you’re armed and strong it’s ok, because along this road you will constantly separate from some people, and you will also find some true, like-minded comrades. Other than that, there is nothing you can do or need to do in these situations that you cannot entirely control.”

There are many who agree with the idea that it is easier to know who you would like to stay friends with by showing your true colors: “How to filter your friends? By coming out and by coming out politically.”

Some even suggest that ‘coming out politically’ is much more important than the other kind of ‘coming out,’ while there are also those saying that ‘coming out politically’ is much more complex and has the ability to really offend those around you, making you realize that you are so different that you might end up hating each other.

“I can personally share that coming out politically is twice as hard as coming out about your sexuality,” one blogger wrote.

 

STRUGGLING WITH POLITICAL ORIENTATION


 

Other Weibo users express that they find these times confusing. One female blogger wrote:

“I simply do not have the courage to come out of the closet politically. On the one hand, I am afraid that expressing my views will lead to an alienation with those around me, and coming out will inevitably lead to isolation or gossip. On the other hand, I am also unsure about my own orientation. When it comes to gender, there is just a few different kinds of ‘coming out’; men liking men, women liking women, and those liking both. But when it comes to politics, every person has different views on every single matter and every point, and there is no standard definition of divisions.”

There there are also those who find that it would be better not to show your political views at all if it is not absolutely necessary: “[Not coming out politically] could save mutually good relationships.”

“I can just see my Wechat groups splitting apart,” another person writes.

Amid all these discussions about the phenomenon of coming out politically, there were virtually no Weibo posts reflecting on what the different stances actually are or which topics people are referring to.

On Chinese social media, especially on Weibo, open discussions regarding the protests in Beijing, Shanghai, and elsewhere have been heavily controlled and mostly censored.

Although WeChat is also controlled, censorship is generally somewhat less visible and pervasive in private group chats, and people find various ways to still express some views that are deemed sensitive.

It is clear that a lot of people do not agree with each other when it comes to those who recently made their voices heard on the streets.

Although many supported the protesters, there were also many who did not; then there were those who believed the unrest across China was caused by evil “outside forces,” and those who believed that theory was completely non-sensical.

“I’d like to say something to these students,” one Jiangsu blogger with over 10,000 followers wrote: on Weibo “This is not a revolution. It’s not the collapse of the world. This is the fight against the epidemic.”

“We just want to live our lives,” one commenter replied.

 

THE OPEN-UP FACTION VERSUS THE ZERO-COVID FACTION


 

More than just about the protests themselves, the bigger discussion behind it evolves around those wanting the country to open up (live with the virus) versus those who advocate for anti-Covid measures.

On Chinese social media, they are often referred to as the ‘open up faction’ (开放派) versus the ‘zero Covid faction’ (清零派). Those in favor of sticking to the anti-epidemic measures fear that easing restriction could lead to many deaths, especially among the elderly and the youngest. They think they are the reasonable ones, and criticize the other side for relying on their emotions or being selfish or too naive.

The ones who want to open up, however, think the social and economic costs of the fight against the virus have become too high. They blame the other side for relying on fear rather than reason, or say that those advocating ‘zero Covid’ are careless about other people’s lives, or that they are privileged enough to still be able to get by despite strict measures and lockdowns.

Then there are those who are in the middle, seeking for halfway grounds that both sides can agree on.

On WeChat, one blogger argued that many people have some “public positions” (公开立场) that they are willing to share with others, while they also hold some “private positions” (私人立场) that they are less likely to share with others, especially when they feel their views are not shared by the majority of society.

But because so many in society keep their “private views” to themselves – perhaps for fear of rejection or because they think that expressing their views might be otherwise risky, – the commonly accepted idea of what “the majority” thinks is based on false assumptions since so many people simply choose to keep their mouths shut. This could even lead to those people actually being in the minority being conceived of as being in the majority, something that is also referred to as “pluralistic ignorance.”

This time of unrest and this important period in China’s fight against the virus have apparently created a moment when many people feel like they need to finally come out of their “closet” despite the risks. While some have done so on the streets, others are doing it on social media.

“I support ‘political coming out’,” one Weibo user writes, while some say they are still waiting for the right time.

Other netizens are just glad about adding something new to their vocabulary: “I just learnt a new word today! ‘Political coming out.’ It’s an interesting word, and I like it.”

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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