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Love and Sex in China

Italian Murder Case: Chinese ‘Comrade’ Suffocated and Stuffed in Suitcase by Ex-Lover

A Chinese man was reportedly suffocated in the Italian city of Modena. His remains were found in a suitcase under his bed.

Manya Koetse



A gruesome murder case is making headlines in China after the remains of a Chinese man have been found stuffed in a suitcase. The suspect is the victim’s 17-year-old Chinese ex-boyfriend.

A 20-year-old ethnically Chinese man named Hu Congliang (胡聪亮) has been reportedly murdered in Modena, a city in Northern Italy, on November 26.

On Weibo, the news was published by, China’s leading online LGBT news platform with the headline: “Ethnic Chinese ‘Comrade’ Harmed in Italy.” The Chinese word ‘comrade’ (同志) is also slang for homosexuals.

Danlan reports that Italian police have questioned and detained five Chinese minors in relation to the murder, and that among them, a 17-year-old man is the main suspect in suffocating and killing Hu Congliang. He used to be in a relationship with the victim.

Hu Congliang lived in Italy together with his parents, who were both working there.

According to the Straits Times, the 17-year-old suspect previously tried to break up with Hu, who then refused and allegedly threatened his boyfriend to publicise intimate photos he had of him.

The underage suspect then went to Hu’s residence with four friends, where they allegedly suffocated him with a pillow and put his remains in a suitcase under the bed. As they left they told Hu’s mother, who was present in the house, that her son had left earlier.

Italian local media reported that the mother found her son’s remains a couple of hours later.

Murder cases involving (ethnically) Chinese in foreign countries often make headlines in China. Earlier this year, the brutal murder of two Chinese sisters in Japan also set social media abuzz.

Another case, in which a Chinese woman was reportedly killed by the ex-boyfriend of her roommate in Japan is still receiving a lot of media attention in China. The suspect, a 25-year-old Chinese exchange student, is to be put on trial in December.

By Manya Koetse

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

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of 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 Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Brands & Marketing

Much Ado About Big Breasts: Two Controversies Surrounding Busty Women on Chinese Social Media

“What’s wrong with looking at beautiful women and men on the Internet?”

Manya Koetse



A science blogger liking a sexy selfie, a marketing livestream showing pretty ladies dancing around in tight clothes. Sexual objectification of women or much ado about nothing?

This week, the popular WeChat account Brother News (新闻哥) published an article authored by ‘Sister News’ (新闻妹) addressing two recent controversial hot topics on Chinese social media related to attractive, busty young women.

According to the author, two parties have “unjustly” been smeared for their appreciation of beautiful women: the first is a science blogger, and the second is a coconut water brand.

Slammed for Liking a Hot Girl Pic

Xiao Liang (小亮) is a Chinese blogger focused on science and biology who got caught up in controversy this week for liking a photo showing an attractive, well-proportioned woman.

Xiao Liang has over 6,4 million fans on his Weibo account and his fans apparently take great interest in his online activities as some of them ‘exposed’ how Xiao Liang had liked (👍) this selfie post by a female fitness blogger.

The photos ‘liked’ by Xiao Liang.

Some people commented that it was distasteful or even vulgar for a well-known science blogger to like such photos of a hot girl, especially as a married man with children. Other expressed disappointment because this behavior did not meet their expectations of him.

On October 9, Xiao Liang responded to the controversy in a post, claiming that he unintentionally had pressed the ‘like’ button for these particular photos but also saying that he does not see what would be wrong about liking a photo of a beautiful woman.

The female whose photos were liked by Xiao Liang also hinted at the controversy in one of her recent posts. “Share beauty,” she wrote: “It’s ok to appreciate beauty.”

Coconut Palm Controversy

During the National Day holiday, there was also some commotion over a series of promotional live streams on video platform Douyin by Chinese popular coconut milk brand Coconut Palm (椰树椰汁).

Coconut Palm’s live stream featured several attractive, busty women in tight tops and shorts dancing in front of the camera. The stream was cut off multiple times by Douyin (#椰树集团直播带货风格引争议#).

As reported by South China Morning Post, Coconut Palm has been fined twice before by local authorities for advertisements and packaging suggesting its product could promote breast enlargement.

They even released a drink packaging in 2016 shaped like a woman with big breast.

Its whole marketing strategy revolves around attractive people and busty women, and its ambassador slogan is something along the lines of “I grew up by drinking it since I was little,” but in between the lines this could also suggest “I got big [breasts] by drinking it since I was little” (#我从小喝到大#).

Both issues have triggered discussions on Chinese social media about feminine aesthetics in online culture today.

There are two sides on this discussion; there are those who criticize the objectification of women and say that it is all about the ‘male gaze’ in media culture, meaning that women are intentionally portrayed in a certain way to attract the attention of men.

But there are also many others who think people should mind their own business and should not criticize others for something as simple as appreciating a beautiful shape.

Brother News pointed out that Coconut Palm also featured attractive men in its advertising campaigns: “What’s wrong with looking at beautiful women and men on the Internet? We want to see them! We want to see them!

The author of the Brother News article also wonders what it actually means when people get slammed for liking beautiful women, and asks what this says about the women themselves: are they not considered ‘good women’ because of how they look? Is it an actual criticism of men’s behavior or is this more about female rivalry?

Some think people have lost their sense of humor. “I just think it’s funny, both the Xiao Liang thing and the Coconut Palm issue.”

Others wrote: “I like that drink and I like looking at pretty women, I don’t see a problem with it.”

“Some netizens complain about online control, while they are the ones who are even more controlling,” one person commented.

By Manya Koetse 

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.


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Zhou Zhou in West Africa: Chinese Woman Trending on Weibo after Going ‘Missing’ in Nigeria

The story of Zhou Zhou – who joined her husband in Nigeria – caused concerns among netizens who believed the woman is not safe.

Manya Koetse



One Chinese woman’s decision to move to West Africa with her older husband triggered worries and speculation on social media, with prevailing negative stereotypes fuelling fears that something bad might had happened to her.

A 7-months pregnant Chinese woman married to a Nigerian man suddenly became top trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo this week when she went ‘missing in action’ after posting about her upcoming trip to West Africa on her social media channels.

The woman posted about her travels as ‘Zhou Zhou in West Africa’ on Douyin, the Chinese TikTok, where she has over 290,000 followers.

The 20-year-old Chinese woman named Zhou Zhou gained netizens’ attention after she wrote on social media on July 28 that she would travel out of China and join her African husband to go back to his hometown.

One of the last photos Zhou Zhou shared online before going MIA (missing in action).

She shared some details of her trip from the Shanghai International Airport on social media, including those on how Nigerian border security staff inquired about her family and her purpose for visiting the country.

A photo of Zhou Zhou and her husband makes it to news channels.

Zhou Zhou soon received many messages from concerned netizens advising her to reconsider her trip because she is pregnant, suggesting that the medical care in West Africa is not up to par and that she would not be safe in Nigeria.

When Zhou Zhou then stopped updating her social media and did not respond to personal messages anymore, people started raising the alarm that Zhou might have gone missing after arriving in Nigeria. When her social media account bio info suddenly changed from ‘female’ to ‘male’, people worried that something might have happened to her.

By August 1st, there had been over 1.3 billion (!) views of a hashtag titled “Zhou Zhou in West Africa Went Missing” (#周周在西非已失联#).

The online concerns about Zhou Zhou grew so loud that even the Chinese Consultate in Nigeria responded to the issue (#大使馆回应周周在西非已失联#) and said they would look into the matter.

Zhou Zhou’s story unleashed a flood of stories on the supposed situation in West Africa or in Africa in general, with many people claiming to know what life is like or how Africans are like. Some people suggested that Zhou Zhou might discover her husband would actually have “multiple wives” and pointed out cultural differences between China and Nigeria.

One Nigeria-based blogger shared their experience about the various problems in the country, such as female inequality, and also claimed that Black [Africans] had a “talent for acting” and that “they should not be easily trusted”, adding: “we as Chinese don’t even say ‘I love you’ as many times in our entire lifetime as some Black [Africans] do within a time frame of two hours.”

Others were concerned about the age difference of fifteen years between Zhou Zhou and her husband, writing: “The age gap between them is so big, Zhou Zhou is only 20 years old? How did they meet? (..) Zhou Zhou and this African uncle come from such different cultural backgrounds.”

Throughout the years, there have been multiple trending stories on Weibo triggering worries that Chinese people, especially women, are not safe when they go abroad and that they are targeted for their nationality. After the murder of two Chinese sisters in Japan in 2017, a popular comment said: “When Chinese citizens travel to other countries, they must be vigilant. After all, we are not familiar enough with the political environment and social atmosphere of other countries. We must learn to protect ourselves.”

The existing prejudice and racial stereotyping on Chinese social media regarding African men only added fuel to the fire.

On the late night of August 1st, Zhou Zhou finally sent out a message on social media, telling everyone that she was doing well and thanking everyone for their concern.

Zhou Zhou’s post.

She also uploaded a video to her Douyin channel, saying:

“We’re doing well, thank you. I’m in the final stage of my pregnancy. Perhaps my feelings are not completely stable at the moment, because I’ve received so many messages and didn’t give a timely reply. Maybe I created misunderstandings because of it.”

In the video, Zhou Zhou explained that her husband does not have multiple wives and that they had already arranged a medical check-up at a local hospital.

Her response went trending (#周周在西非发视频回应#), garnering over 140 million views this week.

While many people accused Zhou Zhou of being an ‘attention seeker’ and purposely creating “a hype,” there were also those who argued that she should now be left in peace.

“I don’t like to tell young women how to choose their partner,” one commenter (@Amy小北京) responded: “To each their own. Some people love money, others love appearance. Some people love sincerity, others love excitement. For this girl, it’s not that it’s wrong to find someone from West Africa. This is her life, she has the right to choose. But why would I still say she’s stupid? [Because] the risk of this marriage is still too great.”

“Netizens did what they had to, they advised her not to, but she’s an adult and she’ll well aware of her own decision, let’s just wish her the best,” one educational blogger (@叫我小张同志就好) wrote.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes


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