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“My Life Changed Forever After A Car Crash” – Story of Duped Victim Finds Resonance on Weibo

Often it is the ‘victim’ scamming the driver in staged accidents, but now it is the driver who has scammed the victim.

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The story of a young Chinese man desperately trying to keep his father alive over the past two years after a car accident, has become a trending topic on Chinese social media. The case has found resonance with millions for the social injustice it involves: the woman responsible for the accident has refused to pay for medical costs.

Stories of traffic accident scams often make the news in China, as there are many who try to win financial compensation by setting up an accident. But what if it is not the driver, but the victim who gets scammed, because the guilty party pretends not to have the money to pay for compensation?

It is what happened to the family of Zhao Yong (赵勇), whose emotional essay and video post have become a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media over the past week.

“It has been 776 days since the day of my father’s accident,” Zhao says at the start of his post of November 22, in which he tells the story of how his life changed forever when his father, riding a bicycle, was hit by a car in Tangshan (Hebei) in 2015. “During this time, my father, who is now lying beside me in a vegetative state, had to undergo four surgeries.”

Zhao’s father passed away on December 1st.

The story of Zhao Yong has been discussed by thousands of Weibo netizens over the past few days, especially when Zhao announced that his father had passed away on December 1st as a result of his injuries. “We were unable to save him. Today, my father has gone,” Zhao posted on his Weibo account (@认真的赵先森) on Friday afternoon.

In a moving essay, Zhao describes how his happy family life suddenly turned into a nightmare on October 6th 2015; the day of his father’s grave accident. As his father had to undergo heavy injuries and had to receive immediate medical care at the hospital, Zhao Yong struggled to pay the hospital’s 10,000 yuan-per-day (±1510$) fees. Living as a vagabond, Zhao did everything he could to scrape together the money to keep his father alive; selling his house, selling his paintings, and seeking media attention for his case.

This case already made headlines in 2015, when Zhao Yong sold his house and paintings to pay for 200,000 yuan (±30,000) in medical costs for his father’s surgeries.

Zhao’s essay, that features a black and white photo of his parents in happy times, has gained over 10 million views on Weibo this week, and the video in which he tells his story has been shared more than 400,000 times, receiving over 116,000 comments.

Through text and video (which also includes recorded talks with the responsible driver), Zhao discloses how the current legal in system in China “is only effective when it comes to people with morals, not when it comes to the scum of society.”

Zhao shares the story of the past two years through his video on Weibo.

Although the local court in Hebei ordered the responsible driver Huang Shufen (黄淑芬) to pay 850,000 RMB (±128.550$) in compensation to Zhao’s family for medical costs, not only did Huang not come up with the money, she also treated the victim’s family in a rude and unreasonable way.

“I don’t have a low income,” she said in one of the conversations recorded by Zhao in the video: “But I have loans to pay and I have no morals. So what’s the use in talking to me?” Zhao says that although Huang never paid the ordered money, she did buy a house and a car and went on a New Year’s holiday to Thailand.

Zhao describes how she told him: “I have bought a house and a car now, my money is gone.” Through a friend, Zhao discovered that within months after the accident, Huang bought the car and the house and registered them under her daughter’s name to transfer all of her assets.

Huang Shufen refuses to pay the compensation, as featured in Zhao’s video.

Chinese media reporting on this story have dubbed it as a “textbook example” (“教科书式耍赖”) of “shameless refusal” to accept (legal) responsibility.

According to the latest news, the Tangshan local court has frozen the assets that are still under Huang Shufen’s name on November 24, and has since detained her for 15 days for failing to comply with the court’s order. Meanwhile, Zhao’s family still never received a single penny and have not received any messages from the driver’s family concerning the death of Zhao’s father.

In Zhao’s post, he shared a picture of how his appearances have changed over the past two years, during which he grew from an ambitious young graduate with a job, house, girlfriend, and hopeful future, into a worn-out man who has given up everything to save his father and is stuck in a pile of debt.

The sorrows of the past two years have deeply affected Zhao.

Addressing Huang Shufen, Zhao writes: “I hope you’ll also read this essay with your daughter. I have used up all my youth over these past two years. I have no escape. But you also cannot hide. It is not hard to discover you actually do have a conscience. Don’t leave me out in the cold, and show some basic humanity. The court has decided – you have no excuses left.”

On Weibo, netizens strongly condemn Huang Shufen’s actions, and also speak out against China’s legal system. “Can’t they auction all of her family property?” one netizen wonders.

“This just shows that China’s law is not healthy and that the system of legal enforcement is weak,” one person writes: “It gives scammers too much opportunity.”

“People like her are morally bankrupt. She has money to buy a house and a car, but can’t compensate the person she hit with her car. She simply has no morals,” some commenters say.

In China, traffic accidents and their aftermath often become much-discussed topics. According to Chinese law, persons who injure a victim in such accident often have to pay large sums in compensation.

This has led to situations in which it has occurred that drivers intentionally kill the pedestrians they have hit, because the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small compared to paying for the care for a disabled or seriously injured survivor. This phenomenon has been researched and described by Geoffrey Sant in “Driven to Kill” (link).

It has also generated a business of professional scammers, also called ‘pengci,’ who deliberately crash against cars and then demand compensation. These kinds of fraud cases make drivers in China very vulnerable. But, as Zhao’s story points out, when a person is truly a victim of an accident and the culprit refuses to pay, they are not just vulnerable – but also become powerless.

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 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, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lu

    December 2, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    did you mean IRresponsible driver huang shufen?

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China Digital

Key Players, Digital Trends & Deep Dives: China Internet Report 2021

SCMP just launched its latest China Internet Report. (And What’s on Weibo readers can get a 30% discount on the Pro Edition!)

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As China’s tech sector has been facing an ongoing crackdown by Beijing regulations, a lot has been changing in the country’s digital environment over the past year. The new China Internet Report 2021 by SCMP gives an overview of the latest trends and developments.

When it comes to China’s online landscape, nothing ever stays the same. Over the past year, political, economic, and social developments and measures have once again changed the Chinese digital environment.

Giving a comprehensive overview of the key leaders and major trends dominating the Chinese online field, South China Morning Post (SCMP) issued its fourth annual China Internet Report.

China’s internet population has now risen to 989 million – last year’s report indicated an internet population of 904 million. By now, there are 853 million mobile payment users, which indicates that over 86% of the entire mobile internet population uses mobile as a way to pay.

As China’s internet population is still growing, and new online startups are still popping up every day, there have been tightening regulations on multiple fronts.

As laid out in SCMP’s report, regulations mainly focus on the four areas of antitrust, finance, cybersecurity, and data privacy. Regulatory actions targeting the monopolistic behaviours of China’s biggest internet companies are still ongoing, and the new Data Security Law came into effect on September 1st of this year.

While Chinese tech companies are seeing increased scrutiny at home, they have also been facing intensifying geopolitical tensions between China and other countries. Over the past year, the various probes and shutdowns into Chinese companies by countries such as the US and India have meant a serious blow to the market share of Chinese apps.

Meanwhile, the SCMP report highlights the trend of various older and newer Chinese (e-commerce) apps “downplaying” their Chinese origins when entering foreign markets. Shein is a good example of this development, but other players including Zaful, Urbanic, and Cider are also experiencing more success outside of China while not explicitly marketing themselves as Chinese e-commerce apps.

Another noteworthy trend explained in the new report is how China’s shifting demographics are creating new niche segments to compete over. The COVID-19 crisis is partially a reason why China has seen an increase in senior internet users, with an increasing number of online products and content catering to the elderly.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) even issued special guidelines earlier this year for web pages and mobile apps to carry out so-called “elderly friendliness modifications.” Since this user group is still expected to see significant growth, the “silver economy” is an area that will only become more important in the years to come.

To check out all the main trends for 2021, China’s latest internet statistics, its top tech competitors, internet companies, and more, here’s a link to the free report.

The free report is 55 pages long and gives an overview of China’s latest internet numbers and players, covers the top cross-sector trends for 2021, including the tightening regulations and the bumpy road ahead for China’s tech IPOs.

The Pro Edition of China’s Internet Report 2021, also launched by SCMP, is 138 pages long and provides a deep-dive into ten relevant sectors – featuring insightful and useful analysis, data, and case studies relating to China’s e-commerce market, content & media, gaming, blockchain, fintech, online education, healthtech, smart cars, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence.

The China Internet Report Pro Edition is priced at US$400, but the team at SCMP has kindly reached out and made it possible for us to offer a special 30% discount to What’s on Weibo readers.

You’ll get the discount by using the discount code: WHATSONWEIBO30, or by clicking this link that will automatically include your discount code.

By Manya Koetse

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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

Goodbye 996? Weibo Discussions on Changes in Overtime Work Culture

Beijing made it clear that working overtime is illegal, but netizens are concerned about the realities of changing working schedules.

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Many people are tired of being forced to log long hours, but are also worried about how a national crackdown on ‘996’ working culture could impact their workload and income.

In late August of 2021, China’s Ministry of Human Resources & Social Security (人社部) and the Supreme People’s Court issued a joint clarification on the country’s legal standards of working hours and overtime pay.

Their message was clear: the practices of ‘996’ (working 9am-9pm, six days per week) and ‘007’ (working 24 hours seven days per week, referring to a flexible working system worse than 996) are illegal, and employers are obliged to obey the national working-time regime.

On Weibo, China’s state broadcaster CCTV published a 10-minute long video illustrating the 10 typical cases of overtime work laid out by the ministry and the top court. The moment was marked as the first time for the state-owned broadcaster to publicly comment on overtime work practices.

The Weibo post pointed out that “striving for success is not a shield companies can use to evade legal responsibilities,” and made it clear that employees have the right to “say no to forced overtime.”

The topics of overtime work and China’s 996 work culture generated many discussions on Weibo, with the hashtag “Ministry of Human Resources & Social Security and the Supreme Court Clarify 996 and 007 Are Illegal” (#人社部最高法明确996和007都违法#) generating over 420 million views on the social media platform.

 
“Without implementation and enforcement, the law is useless”
 

The current labor law in China bars employees from working more than 44 hours a week, and any overtime work must be paid.

Although the 996 practice is technically prohibited by law, many companies still enforce the hours informally.

Many employees revealed online that, although the 996 practice is legally prohibited, they were nevertheless being assigned job tasks that exceeded the prescribed working hours.

“Just finished work,” one Weibo user (@介也没嘛) posted with this picture, showing it’s nearing 11PM.

“I wonder if the workload will decrease after all. If it doesn’t change, it means people will now have to work voluntarily,” one Weibo user commented.

People also indicated that, since the start of the pandemic, remote work has become a new norm. Many companies have moved from office to working at home, making it harder to draw the line between regular working hours and overtime hours.

“What really matters is whether working from home includes overtime hours,” one Weibo user wrote. Many netizens complained that their companies wouldn’t explicitly stipulate a 996 schedule; instead, most of them disguise the overtime hours as ‘voluntary’ work.


Many commenters say it takes more comprehensive legislation and tougher law enforcement to really solve the issue of overtime work.

“These regulations are good, but they are basically impossible to implement. Even if they ban ‘996’ and ‘007’ there is no way to regulate the so-called ‘voluntary work,’” one Weibo user wrote.

Some people said that their companies have various performance assessments and that they feared that refusing to work more hours would make them lose their competitive advantage: “The burn-out (内卷 nèijuǎn, ‘involution’) is severe. It is too difficult for us. I have only one day off during the week and I’m so tired,” one person commented.

 
“We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours”
 

China’s 996 work culture has been championed by tech leaders and denounced by workers for years, and it has become an unwritten standard – not just in the tech sector but also in other industries.

While working long hours has been ingrained in Chinese workplace culture since the early days of the country’s internet boom, it later also started to represent ‘a road to success’ for Chinese tech entrepreneurs.

Many Chinese netizens blame Alibaba’s Jack Ma for praising the ‘996’ work system. In 2019, Ma called the 12-hour working day a “huge blessing,” causing much controversy online. During his talk at Kyiv International Economic Forum, Ma said: “(..) ‘996 is the spirit that I encourage Alibaba people to follow. If you want to have a bright future, (..) if you want to be successful, you have to work hard.”

On another occasion, the tech mogul reportedly said: “If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba? We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours.”

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group described 996 as a ‘blessing’.

However, after the shocking death of one Chinese delivery man working for food delivery platform Ele.me and the widespread discussions about the ‘996 ICU’ project – which called on tech workers to add names and evidence of excessive hours to a ‘blacklist,’ – the 996 work culture has come under increased scrutiny.

Some people argue that the overtime culture is draining employees and creating an unhealthy work-life balance; others argue that they work for themselves and believe that putting in extra hours will eventually translate to individual success.

While economic growth has slowed down during the pandemic, most companies are persisting with long working hours because they are under pressure to achieve results.

According to an online survey conducted by an influential tech blogging account (@IT观察猿), more than one-third of participants claimed to have one day off per week, and more than one quarter claimed they didn’t have any weekend days off.

 
“The workload is the same, but the income has reduced”
 

Starting from August 1st, ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the popular short-form video app TikTok, dropped its ‘big and small week’ (大小周) – a schedule that previously required employees to work six days in a row every other week.

ByteDance is not the only Chinese tech company that has begun to cut back on its long working hours. More and more companies have decided to drop grueling work schedules.

Kuaishou, another Chinese short-form video app company, stopped scheduling weekend work in July. Since early June, Tencent – China’s largest game publisher – has encouraged people to clock out at 6 pm every Wednesday.

Although these changes seem to signal a positive development, there are also many people who do not support the new measures. When Bytedance announced the changes to its working schedule, news came out that one-third of the employees did not support the decision (#字节跳动1/3员工不支持取消周末加班#).

Those relying on overtime pay said abolishing overtime work will cut their take-home pay by around 20%. Indeed, the first pay-out after the new implementation at Bytedance showed an overall drop of 17% in employees’ wages.

“The workload is the same, but the income has reduced,” one Weibo commenter complained.

One trending discussion on Weibo focused on the question “Do companies need to make up for employees’ financial loss after the abolition of weekend work?” Many comments revealed the situation faced by thousands of struggling workers who value free time but value their income more.

Many on Weibo still wonder whether a company that abolishes ‘996’ will come up with an alternative to compensate those employees who will otherwise inevitably lose vital income.

By Yunyi Wang

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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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