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Messages of Sympathy Flooding Weibo after Death of Young Bilibili Blogger ‘Mo Cha Official’

Mo Cha was just another Bilibili user until his tragic death triggered a flood of condolence messages and tributes on Chinese social media.

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The anonymous and rather unknown blogger ‘Mo Cha Official’ became famous after he died. His death casts light on young Chinese people living in extreme poverty.

On 21 January, the name of a Bilibili content creator called Mò Chá Official (墨茶Official) first appeared on the hot search list of Weibo, shortly after news of his death made its rounds on Chinese social media.

Thousands of netizens started empathizing with this young anonymous blogger after background information about his unhappy and difficult life surfaced online.

Mo Cha Official was a rather unpopular content creator on Bilibili, a Chinese video-sharing site that is mainly themed around animation, comics and games.

Before the news of his death went viral, Mo Cha Official’s channel, which focused on gaming and anime-related content, only had a few hundred fans.

Over the past week, much has become clear on Mo Cha Official and his mysterious death as other Bilibili users and media outlets shared more information on the circumstances leading up to his passing.

Mo Cha Official was a young man, born in 1998, who lived in Huili County in Sichuan province. He first started uploading content to Bilibili about a year ago, sharing his passion for games with other netizens, but also sharing details about his life.

According to other Bilibili users, Mo Cha suffered from nasal tumors and other health problems. Although doctors advised that he needed to be hospitalized, he could not afford the treatment and surgery he needed.

As his health problems grew worse, some of his online friends suggested that Mo Cha could do online fundraising to pay for his surgery. However, since the blogger could not afford to get an official diagnosis on his condition, he could not get the documents needed to organize such online crowdfunding.

On 29 December 2020, he posted: “I’m craving strawberries. Recently, tortured by illness, I vomited out everything that I have eaten. I really want to eat strawberries, but strawberries are too expensive.”

His last post was on the last day of 2020, in which he wrote “I’m still lying on my sick bed, sigh.”

Chinese news outlet The Paper reports that the blogger and his family slipped into poverty after his grandmother became ill and the family had to pay for high medical bills. After the grandmother passed away, the family faced high levels of debt.

Mo Cha moved to Chengdu where he worked as a longshoreman, making 800 yuan ($123) per month of which 500 yuan ($77) was spent on rent, leaving only 300 yuan ($46) for food and other expenses.

According to online friends, Mo Cha developed stomach problems due to malnutrition, and the blogger complained about his stomach hurting in online posts.

Mo Cha’s situation went from bad to worse when he lost out on wages, became a victim of online fraud, and developed symptoms of diabetes.

He was last seen online on January 4th. Media reports claim the young man passed away around January 10, after which his body was found in his room by his landlord. It took about ten days before his death started to be discussed by former fellow Bilibili users.

Over the past week, many netizens empathized with Mo Cha and noted the calm way in which he talked about his life despite his suffering. “I hope your next life is better than this one,” many commenters wrote.

By now, the hashtag “Mo Cha Official” (#墨茶official#) has reached 600 million views on Weibo; the hashtag “Huili County Responds to Mo Cha Official’s Passing” (#会理县回应B站UP主墨茶去世#) – which relates to the official confirmation of Mo Cha’s death – received 620 million views.

“Really sorry I got to know about you like this,” one popular comment said.

On video site Bilibili, the 墨茶Official account now has over 1.7 million followers, with many Bilibili users uploading videos and art dedicated to the blogger. Bilibili has officially verified his death and turned his Bilibili account into a memorial account.

Besides the stream of sympathy messages flooding social media, there are also other responses to Mo Cha’s passing.

Firstly, the blogger’s story triggered online discussions on various social issues including China’s poverty alleviation policies. Many online commenters express their shock that young people such as Mo Cha could die unnecessarily due to poverty and untreated illness.

Although some think better poverty alleviation policies could have prevented the blogger’s death, others think it would take more than that. One Weibo user wrote that changing poverty policies would not have helped his situation, writing: “To get subsidies he would also need to have the right channels and have a certain level of knowledge. He probably really didn’t know.”

Then there was also speculation on the degree of exaggeration in the news regarding Mo Cha’s death, especially after stories surfaced in the media that Mo Cha’s parents’ financial situation was not too bad and that Mo Cha allegedly had a criminal record.

But one of the things that’s most-discussed on social media is the mere fact that Mo Cha could not afford to eat strawberries when he craved them most – a detail in his story that strikes a chord for many.

And so, many people express their wishes for Mo Cha to find strawberries forever in an afterlife. One of the most popular comments on Weibo in one of the threads on this story said: “Hope that you can have many, many strawberries over there.”

By Christopher Yong

edited for clarity 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.

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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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 Digital

How Social Media Is Speeding Up Zhengzhou Flooding Rescue Efforts

Chinese social media are speeding up local rescue efforts after Zhengzhou saw the heaviest rain in 1,000 years.

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Social media is utilized as a tool in the response to the floodings in Henan province. Once again, Weibo facilitates active public participation to provide immediate assistance to the people facing this natural disaster. 

On Tuesday, July 20, heavy rainfall caused major disruptions in the central province of Henan. The amount of rain over the last three days in Zhengzhou is reported to be the same as what it would usually receive in an entire year.

It is reported that Henan Province has initiated the highest-level emergency response to floods, and China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Bureau has dispatched a workgroup to Henan, initiating level III emergency response rescue work.

Since the evening of July 20, news and information streams on the heavy rains and floods have been dominating Chinese social media. In the midst of the disastrous events, Weibo has become an online space for people seeking help, those disseminating information on available resources, and for other related activities that help netizens engage in emergency management and accessing information.

The volume of such messages is huge, with thousands of netizens seeking ways to help speed up rescue work and actively contribute to the emergency relief efforts.

The organically improvised response protocol on social media includes the following guidelines:

  • Verify, summarize, highlight, and spread online help requests posted by people from different locations
  • Remind people to delete help-seeking posts once they have been rescued or have found assistance.
  • Disseminate relevant knowledge relating to emergency care and response, and public health information, such as how to deal with different disaster scenarios, warning people about the safety of drinking water during floods, etc.
  • Share information regarding mental health and psychosocial support during the different phases of the disaster.

 

When posts of people trapped by the heavy rain started to be published on Weibo, many online influencers, no matter what subject they usually focus on, participated in spreading help-request posts that were not getting a lot of online attention.

Erdi 耳帝, a music influencer with nearly 15 million fans on Weibo, has been retweeting the online posts of people asking for help since the night of July 20.

The social media influencer Erdi has been kept retweeting asking-for-help posts since the night of July 20.

An example of such an online emergency help request (求助贴) is the following post of July 21st, 17:15 local time:

Our entire neighborhood is cut off from water and electricity, the water level is rising to chest level, and we currently have no drinking water at the moment. Need help urgently.

Status: Verified, pending rescue.
Seeking help: Wu M**, phone 13*****27
Number of people to be rescued: five or six thousand
Location: Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, Zhengdong New District, Shangdu / Xuzhuang Street intersection, east courtyard of Shangdu Jiayuan Muzhuang district (we can’t exit the building, there is no water, no electricity, no supplies, and it’s been 24 hours)

Once people who have been trapped by the water are rescued, the user who published the post will delete the original post to make sure other emergency posts are also noticed and disseminated.

Some Weibo users engage in organizing scattered online information in one single post, e.g. posts regarding local electricity leakage, making this information more accessible and easier to understand.

One post that was among the top-shared ones this week, is a picture that includes contact information of rescue teams of both officials and civilians. When realizing that some people were unable to upload the picture due to poor internet connections caused by the heavy rain, an up-to-date and full-text version was quickly shared by netizens.

Some Weibo users listed various methods to get assistance for hearing-impaired and deaf-mute people affected by the floods, advising people to download various apps to help to communicate and translate.

Besides the more general practical advice and emergency action plans shared by Chinese social media users, there are also those who pay attention to the importance of personal hygiene during these times. Some are sending out information about menstrual hygiene needs during floods, reminding women to frequently change sanitary pads and try to keep the genital area clean and dry due to the risk of infection. A hashtag related to menstruation during the flooding momentarily ranked fifth in the top search lists (#河南暴雨 如果你出在经期<).

Information on mental health support is disseminated all across social media.

People also try to provide mental support in other ways. A student orchestra spontaneously performed at the Zhengzhou station, where dozens of passengers were left stranded in the night. The video clips of the performance went viral, with the young musicians playing two widely-known songs, “My People, My Country” (我和我的祖国) and “Ode to the Motherland” (歌唱祖国). Many social media users shared the clips and expressed how the performance moved them to tears.

Some video clips that show how ordinary people save ordinary people amid such a natural disaster have also been widely shared. One video shows citizens of Zhengzhou standing in a line and use a rope to pull people from an underground floor where they were trapped by the water flooded.

In all the aforementioned ways and many more, Weibo has become a public platform for Chinese people to respond to the Henan disaster, efficiently communicate and keep track of help requests, organize and disseminate related information, and provide access to timely knowledge and relevant advice.

With so many online influencers and ordinary netizens voluntarily joining in, the online information flows are quickly circulating, allowing for necessary public communication channels while other resources and communication methods are still overwhelmed or in the making. The last time Weibo was used as an efficient emergency communication tool was during the early days of the COVID19 outbreak in Wuhan.

“Please stand strong, Zhengzhou” and “Hang on, Henan,” many commenters write: “Help is underway!”

Also see our previous article on the situation in Zhengzhou here.

By Wendy Huang

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

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

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