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Meanwhile in Panda News: Concerns over China’s Giant Panda Yaya in Memphis, while Ruyi Is Rocking It in Russia

A lot has been going on when it comes to panda-related news in China, where pandas are all the talk, from Yaya in America to Ruyi in Russia.

Manya Koetse



From Xiangxiang in Chengdu to Qiqi in Shanghai, and from Yaya in Memphis to Ruyi in Moscow: China’s giant pandas have been all over Chinese social media recently.

Since there is a lot of trending panda news on Chinese social media recently, it is perhaps time to introduce a special Panda News category on What’s on Weibo to give you more regular updates on all the trending panda topics, including the controversies and politics surrounding them.

What’s been trending recently? There has been a lot of panda-related news. The following topics have been trending over the past week.



Hashtags: #香香回国是为寻找合适伴侣#,#终于看到香香了#


Earlier last week, news of China’s female giant panda Xiangxiang (香香) returning home to the mainland from Japan made headlines.

Xiangxiang was born in June 2017 at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Because her parents Riri and Shinshin are both on loan, China maintains ownership of their cubs.

Xiangxiang is planned to be part of a breeding project in Chengdu. Female pandas are said to reach breeding age between 3,5 and 4,5 years, and Xiangxiang is back in time to meet her partner.

“Welcome home, Xiangxiang,” was one of the most popular replies in the comment sections on the panda’s return to China.



Hashtags: #七七确诊肠梗阻将进行手术#, #熊猫七七#


Panda Qiqi (七七), one of the famous pandas living in the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, has recently attracted attention on Chinese social media as many netizens are concerned about the panda’s health.

The 4-year-old panda recently had a CT scan that showed there was an intestinal blockage, and the panda was rushed to hospital for surgery.

Born on 17 July of 2018, Qiqi is the 14th cub of mother panda Princess. Princess was born in 1998, and she was the first giant panda in the world that was brought up by people right after its birth.

Qiqi was admitted to Shanghai’s Renji Hospital (仁济医院南院). When one of the medical staff members saw “Panda” coming up on the patient records, they initially thought it was just a funny name before discovering it was actually a real panda (#三甲医院有位患者叫熊猫是真熊猫#, #男子在医院遇到熊猫拍CT#).

“Qiqi, please get well soon!” a typical comment on social media said.



Hashtags: #上海野生动物园多次抽查发现问题#, #上海野生动物园曾回应多只熊猫病死#


The online worries over panda Qiqi are connected to wider concerns over Shanghai Wild Animal Park (上海野生动物园), which has also become a trending news topic on Chinese social media.

The Shanghai Wild Animal Park, founded in 1995, was previously slapped on the wrist after inspections found the zoo did not comply with all regulations. They also received a 200,000 yuan ($29,100) fine in 2020 for their liability in the injuries and deaths of animals at the park.

A total of six pandas have reportedly died at the park since it opened. In 2016, mother panda Guoguo and her cub Peanut both fell ill and died in December of that year. Both pandas suffered from an acute inflammatory disease affecting the intestines.

Besides Guoguo and Peanut, the pandas Jiasi, Guoqing, Wuyang and Yunhui also died in the park in between 2007-2016. Jiasi was the only one who died due to old age.

Chinese netizens are also concerned over one particular zookeeper, named as Zhang Xin (张鑫), who previously could be seen bullying and hitting a panda cub nicknamed Huani (华妮, now known as Aibao 爱宝). Surveillance videos showing how he handled the little panda also circulated on social media. Zhang allegedly also took care of Guohuo and Peanut at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park.

Most of all, Weibo commenters,and also those on the Douyin and Xiaohongshu apps, just want answers on the Shanghai Wild Animal Park and want to make sure the pandas and other animals are well taken care of.



Hashtags: #网友呼吁提前接旅美大熊猫丫丫回国#, #北京动物园已做足准备迎接丫丫#


More panda news sparked concerns this week. At the Memphis Zoo in the state of Tennessee, the seemingly deteriorating condition of the giant panda Yaya (丫丫) also became a trending topic on social media this week. As reported by Global Times, Ya Ya arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 2003 as a part of a joint conservation and research project between the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and the U.S. with an agreement duration of 10 years, which was extended by 10 more years in 2013.

Yaya arrived in Memphis together with male partner Lele (乐乐), who suddenly died at the zoo earlier last month at the age of 25 due to heart disease. Pandas can reach an age of approximately 30 years; the oldest known panda reached the age of 35.

Yaya has apparently been suffering from hair loss and looked skinny; her condition has triggered online rumors that the Memphis Zoo was not properly taking care of her. Her return to China is scheduled to take place in early April of this year, but netizens have been calling for Yaya to come back to China at an earlier time. “Give her back to us!” some commenters wrote.

Meanwhile, some netizens have closely been following the live streams of Memphis Zoo showing Yaya’s room and were happy to see she was back to eating bamboo and seemed to have a good appetite.



Hashtags: #旅俄大熊猫画风突变体重狂飙40公斤#, #俄罗斯养的大熊猫相当炸裂#


In the context of the recent news of Yaya seemingly not doing all too great at the Memphis Zoo, there have also been several Chinese media reports on how well China’s pandas are doing at the zoo in Moscow. Ruyi (如意) and Dingding (丁丁) are rolling, slinging, pulling, and moving around while gaining plenty of weight at the Russian zoo.

One post about the pandas thriving in Russia – compared to the less frivolous situation of China’s panda in the U.S. – attracted over 342,000 likes and thousands of comments on Weibo, where some top commenters concluded that the panda treatment in Russia versus the U.S. was like a “kind stepmother” (Russia) versus a “ruthless stepmother” (U.S.).

“Look at the contrast with Yaya in Memphis,” some Weibo users write, while others suggest that Russia has been putting in a lot of work for the pandas by building a special pavilion, setting up a special expert communication team with China, and flying in bamboo from the mainland.

Want to stay tuned for our next update on what’s trending in panda news? Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here.

By Manya Koetse 
with contributions by Miranda Barnes


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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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    March 17, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for your voices! A lot people do not know the storyline and background information about Lele’s death and Yaya’s current situation. China is trying to take Yaya back, please let me know what can I help to make more people aware of this urgent matter! Yaya needs to return to enjoy her rest of life in China where there are plenty of fresh bamboos, apples, pumpkins, grape. It is suffering to watch Yaya like this in Memphis zoo everyday!
    Thank you again!

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China Local News

Changsha Restaurant Employee Pays the Price after Protecting Abused Child

A Changsha restaurant employee who intervened when a mother beat her child ended up paying the price for it.

Manya Koetse



The story of a restaurant employee who had to pay the price for sharing a video of a mother beating her child has triggered anger on Chinese social media.

The incident happened on September 14, when Mr. Jiang (江), an employee at the ‘Peng Shu’ Western-style restaurant in Changsha, stopped a mother from beating her young daughter at the shopping mall where the restaurant is located.

As reported by the Guizhou media channel People’s Focus (@百姓关注), a mother and daughter at the restaurant drew the staff’s attention when the mother began physically assaulting her daughter.

The mother, clearly overwhelmed by her emotions, resorted to kicking, hitting, yelling, and even attempting to strike her child with a chair, allegedly in response to the child accidentally spilling ice cream on her clothing.

During this distressing incident, which was captured on video, Mr. Jiang and another colleague intervened to protect the child and immediately alerted the police to the situation.

But the one who was punished in the end was not the mother.

The video of this incident was shared online, leading the woman to repeatedly visit the restaurant in frustration over her unblurred face in the video. The police had to mediate in this dispute.

To the dismay of many netizens, the employee ended up being forced to pay the woman 10,000 yuan ($1369) in compensation for “moral damages.” He has since resigned from his job and has left Changsha. A related hashtag was viewed over 110 million times on Weibo (#餐厅员工发顾客打娃视频后赔1万离职#) and also became a hot topic on Douyin.

The majority of commenters expressed their anger at the unjust outcome where a restaurant employee, who had attempted to protect the child, faced repercussions while the mother appeared to avoid any legal consequences for her actions.

“Where is the All-China Women’s Federation when you need them?” some wondered, while others wanted to know why the incident was not followed up with an immediate investigation into the child abuse. Others suggested that if it were a man who had beaten his child, authorities would have been quicker to intervene.

The issue of corporal punishment for children often comes up in Chinese social media discussions. While many people find it unacceptable to beat children, using violence to discipline children is also commonplace in many families.

When China’s first national law against domestic violence came into effect on 1 March 2016, article 5 and 12 specifically addressed the special legal protection of children and made family violence against children against the law.

By Manya Koetse

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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

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China Fashion & Beauty

Fashion that Hurts? Online Debates on China’s Draft Law Regarding ‘Harmful’ Clothes

The proposed ban on clothing deemed harmful is stirring debate, with some arguing for the significance of protecting national pride and others emphasizing the value of personal expression.

Manya Koetse



China’s recent proposal to ban clothing that “hurts national feelings” has triggered social media debates about freedom of dress and cultural sensitivities. The controversial amendment has raised questions about who decides what’s offensive for which reason.

A draft amendment to China’s Public Security Administration Punishments Law (治安管理处罚法) has caused some controversy this week for proposing a ban on clothes that “hurt national feelings.”

The discussions are about Article 34, clausules 3 and 4, which point out that wearing clothing or symbols that are deemed “harmful” to “the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” could become illegal. Offenders may face up to 15 days of detention and a fine of 5,000 yuan ($680).

The revised Article is part of a section about acts disrupting public order and their punishment, mentioning the protection of China’s heroes and martyrs.

Especially over the past three to four years, Chinese authorities have placed more importance on protecting the image of China’s “heroes and martyrs.” In 2018, the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law was adopted to strengthen the protection of those who have made significant contributions to the nation and sacrificed their lives in the process.

Those insulting the PLA can face serious consequences. In 2021, former Economic Observer journalist Qiu Ziming (仇子明), along with two other bloggers, were the first persons to be charged under the new law as they were detained for “insulting” Chinese soldiers. Qiu, who had 2.4 million fans on his Weibo page, made remarks questioning the number of casualties China said it suffered in the India border clash. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Earlier this year, Chinese comedian Li Haoshi was canceled making a joke that indirectly made a comparison between PLA soldiers and stray dogs, while also placing words famously used by Xi Jinping in a ridiculous context.

Screenshot of the draft widely shared on social media.

The draft is open for public comment through September 30, and it is therefore just a draft of a proposed amendment at this point.

Nevertheless, it has ignited many discussions on Chinese social media, where legal experts, bloggers, and regular netizens gave their views on the issue, with many people opposing the amendment.

This a translation of the first four clausules of Article 34 by Jeremy Daum’s China Law Translate (see the full translation here). Note that the discussions are focused on the item (2) and (3) revisions:

“Article 34:Those who commit any of the following acts are to be detained for between 5 and 10 days or be fined between 1,000 and 3,000 RMB; and where the circumstances are more serious, they are to be detained for between 10 and 15 days and may be concurrently fined up to 5,000 RMB:
(1) engaging in activities in public places that are detrimental to the environment and atmosphere for commemorating heroes and martyrs;
(2) Wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public places that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, or forcing others do do so;
(3) Producing, transmitting, promoting, or disseminating items or speech that is detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people;
(4) Desecrating or negating the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs, or advocating or glorifying wars of aggression or aggressive conduct, provocation, or disrupting public order.”

Here, we mention the biggest online discussions surounding the draft amendment.

Main Objections to the Amendment

On Chinese social media site Weibo, commenters used various hashtags to discuss the recent draft, including the hashtags “China’s Proposed Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#我国拟修订治安管理处罚法#), “Article 34 of the Draft Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#治安管理处罚法修订草案第34条#) or “Harm the Feelings of the Chinese Nation” (#伤害中华民族感情#).

The issue that people are most concerned about is the vague definition “harming or hurting the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” (“伤害中华民族精神、感情”).

Although Chinese state media outlets, including the English-language Global Times, indicate that the clause is deemed to target some provocative actions to attract public attention, such as wearing Japanese military uniforms at sensitive sites, legal experts and social media users are expressing apprehensions regarding its ambiguity.

Questions arise: Who determines what qualifies as “harmful”? What criteria will be used? How will it be enforced? Beyond concerns about the absence of clear guidelines on which attire might be deemed illegal and for what reasons, there are fears of potential misinterpretation and misuse of such a law due to its subjective nature.

Some people question whether wearing foreign brands like Adidas or Nike could be considered offensive. There are also concerns about whether wearing sports attire supporting specific clubs might be seen as disrespectful. Another common topic is cosplay, a popular form of role-playing among China’s youth, where individuals dress up in costumes and accessories to portray specific characters. Can people still dress up in the way they like?

Well-known political commentator Hu Xijin published a video commentary about the issue on September 7, suggesting that the law in question could be more concrete and avoid misunderstanding by explicitly mentioning it targets facism, racism, or separatism. He also suggested that it is important for China’s legal system to provide people with a sense of security (– rather than scaring them).

Others reiterated similar views. If the clausules are indeed specifically about slandering national heroes and martyrs, which makes sense considering their context, they should be rephrased. One popular legal blogger (@皇城根下刀笔吏) wrote:

The legal enforceability of harming the spirit and the feelings of the Chinese nation is not quite the same as insulting or slandering heroes. Because it is actually very clear who our national heroes are. They are classified as martyrs and were approved by the state, it’s very clear. But when it comes to the feelings and the spirit of the Chinese nation, this is just very vague (..) And ambiguity brings about a mismatch in the practice of implementation, which will make people lose trust in this legal provision and makes them feel unsafe.”

Although a majority of commenters agree that the proposed amendment is vague, some also express that they would support a ban on clothes that are especially offensive. Among them is the popular blogger Han Dongyan (@韩东言), who has over 2.3 million followers on Weibo.

One example that is mentioned a lot, also by Han, is the 2001 controversy surrounding Chinese actress Vicky Zhao who wore a mini-dress printed with the old Japanese naval flag during a fashion shoot, triggering major backlash over her perceived lack of sensitivity to historical matters and the offensive dress.

Han also mentioned a 2018 example of two young men dressed in Imperial Japanese military uniforms taking a photo in front of the Shaojiashan Bunker at Zijin Mountain, where the Second Sino-Japanese War is commemmorated.

Kimono Problems

One trending story that is very much entangled with recent discussions about the proposed ban on ‘harmful’ clothing is that about a group of Chinese men and women who were recently denied access to the Panlongcheng National Archaeological Site Park in Wuhan because staff members allegedly mistook their clothing for Japanese traditional attire.

The individuals were actually not wearing Japanese traditional dress at all; they were wearing traditional Tang dynasty clothing to take photos of themselves. This is part of the Hanfu Movement, a social trend that is popular among younger people who supports the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothing (read more).

According to Zhengguan News (正观新闻), there is no official park policy prohibiting the wearing of Japanese clothing, and an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Paper reported that the incident allegedly happened around closing time.

Meanwhile, this incident has sparked discussions because it highlights the potential consequences when authorities arbitrarily enforce clothing rules and misinterpret situations. One netizen wrote: “It illustrates that when “some members of the public” cannot even tell the difference between Hanfu, Tang dynasty attire, and Japanese kimono, they are simply venting their emotions.”

Last year, a Chinese female cosplayer who was dressed in a Japanese summer kimono while taking pictures in Suzhou’s ‘Little Tokyo’ area was taken away by local police for ‘provoking trouble’ (read here).

A video showed how the young woman was scolded by an officer for wearing the Japanese kimono, suggesting she is not allowed to do so as a Chinese person. The girl was known to be a cosplayer, and she was dressed up as the character Ushio Kofune from the Japanese manga series Summer Time Rendering, wearing a cotton summer kimono, better known as yukata.

The incident sparked extensive debates, with differing viewpoints emerging. While some believed the girl’s choice of wearing Japanese clothing during the week leading up to August 15, a memorial day marking the end of the war, was insensitive, many commenters defended her right to engage in cosplay.

These discussions are resurfacing on Weibo, underscoring the divided opinions on the matter.

One Weibo user expressed a common viewpoint: “I believe wearing a Japanese kimono in everyday situations is not a problem, but doing so at specific times and places could potentially offend the sentiments of the Chinese nation.” Another blogger (@猹斯拉) also voiced support for a law that could prohibit certain clothing: “If you genuinely believe what you’re wearing is not harmful, you always have the right to make your argument.”

However, there is also significant opposition, with some individuals posting images of themselves reading George Orwell’s 1984 at night or making cynical remarks like, “Maybe we should say nothing and wear nothing, as anything else could lead to our arrest.”

“This is not progress,” another person wrote: “It’s taking another step back in time.”

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes


Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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

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