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China Environment

‘Modern-Day Yugong’: Desperate Chinese Land Owner Kneels and Begs for Water

A desperate Ningxia land owner is seeing his plantation getting destroyed because a coal mine cut off water supplies.

Manya Koetse

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A video showing a Chinese land owner collapsing on the ground and begging for water has gone trending on Chinese social media.

The man in the video is Mr. Sun Guoyou (孙国友), a senior local resident who acquired a very large piece of dry, sandy land back in 2003 and has since been working hard to plant trees and grow plantations to enhance the soil conditions.

The land is located in Majiatan (马家滩镇), a small town with just over 5000 people in Lingwu, Ningxia, in the northwest of China.

Sun’s land covers about 3,294 acres (approximately 13 km2) in area, and about three quarter of the land has plantations and trees growing on it.

Earlier this year, a coal mine, located nearby Sun’s land, cut off the supplies of water to the area. This has devastating consequences since Sun depends on these water supplies for irrigation.

Without the water, Sun’s hard work of the past twenty years is going to waste and all of the plantations will die.

Although the coal mine previously promised Sun that they would restore the water supplies to his land, they have not done so yet. In an act of desperation, Sun threw himself to the ground and begged for water, shouting out: “They have not given me water, they did not give me water!”

That moment, which happened on March 27, was filmed by Sun’s daughter and then uploaded to social media, where it soon went viral on various social platforms including Douyin and Weibo, where different hashtags related to the incident received millions of views (some related hashtags received over 360 million views #市领导回应林场主跪地求供水#)

Different hashtags related to the incident became hot topics on Weibo. Screenshot by What’s on Weibo.

Since the video went viral, various Chinese media outlets have reached out to the 64-year-old Sun and his family. According to his daughter, who has grown up seeing her father planting trees and working on the sandy soils, this is the toughest situation the family has ever faced.

As reported by Sina News, the local water supply company is experiencing problems in providing water to Sun’s lands on time. The local mining activities have also impacted the quality of available water in the area; the water now has high salt concentrations and can not be used as irrigation water. The coal mine allegedly is the responsible party for not committing to their agreement and for disrupting the local water supplies.

Sina also reported that the state-owned mining & energy company Shenhua Group (中国神华), one of the largest coal-producing companies in the world, has been receiving many questions from investors following the incident. According to Shenhua, the mine in question is not related to them, and belongs to the China Energy Investment Group (国家能源集团), a mining and energy company administrated by the SASAC of China’s State Council.

The topic has partly received a lot of attention because it is not exactly clear who can be blamed for this situation and how to resolve it. It is just the coal mine that should take responsibility, what role is played by the local goverment, and what about the responsibilities of higher authorities?

Besides the legal discussions surrounding the topic, Sun has also touched the hearts of many netizens and is being called “a modern-day Yugong” (“当代愚公”).

Yugong refers to a well-known fable from Chinese mythology about “the Foolish Old Man who moved mountains.” The Chinese idiom (yúgōng yíshān 愚公移山) is about an old man whose family home in a remote village is blocked by mountains. To facilitate movement for himself and his (grand)children, the old man is determined to remove the mountains, shovel by shovel.

After years of hard work, the gods in heaven were so moved by the old man’s determination to move the mountain that they carried the mountain away. The story conveys the idea of strong faith being able to move mountains.

Determined to save his vast, sandy land – where he has manually planted trees over the past two decades, – Sun Guoyou is seen as someone who is also an image of perseverence and hard work.

For now, it seems that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Sun and his family as the first local companies have arrived with huge water tank trucks to supply his land with water.

For this ‘modern-day Yugong,’ it may not be the gods in heaven but the helpers on social media that are trying to move mountains to save the hard-working man.

Update March 31: Modern-day Yugong or Greedy Wolf? Critical Discussions after Ningxia Land Owner Goes Viral Begging for Water

By Manya Koetse 

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©2023 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.

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China Animals

Outrage over Chinese Food Blogger Torturing Cat in Online Video

Chinese food vlogger Xu Zhihui (徐志辉) was part of a cat abuse chat group on QQ.

Manya Koetse

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A shocking and extremely cruel video in which a Chinese wanghong (online influencer) tortures a stolen cat has sparked outrage on Chinese social media.

The person involved is the Anhui-based food blogger/vlogger Xu Zhihui (徐志辉), who runs multiple accounts, including a Bilibili account with more than 400,000 followers and a Weibo account with over 20,000 fans (@杰克辣条). Xu is mostly known for posting videos of himself cooking and eating food.

The cat abuse incident happened on April 15 in Funan County’s Lucheng, Anhui Province, where the 29-year-old Xu filmed his horrific acts, including tying up the cat, binding it to a tree, cutting its paws, and burning it alive. He then uploaded the video and shared it to a QQ group dedicated to cat abuse. It later circulated around social media, triggering outrage.

According to screenshots that leaked online and the very fact Xu was part of a cruel ‘cat abuse chat group,’ this probably was not the first time for him to torture animals.

According to a police statement, authorities received reports about the stolen cat and the abuse video on April 26th, after which they immediately launched an investigation.

On April 27th, Xu posted an apology on his Weibo channel, in which he said he felt ashamed and sorry for what he did and that he was willing to bear “all the consequences” of his actions. He also wrote that he was being criticized and held accountable by both the public security bureau and Internet authorities. “Please give me another chance,” he wrote. The comments on the post were switched off.

A noteworthy part of Xu’s online apology is that it has a dedicated Weibo hashtag page including a ‘topic summary’ in which Xu apologized. The hashtag page was hosted by Toutiao News. The mix of the personal message by Xu on a hashtag page hosted by Chinese media seems to indicate that these parties worked together in spreading Xu’s words about how remorseful he allegedly is (#偷猫拍虐猫视频网红道歉#).

The comment sections suggest that most people will not forgive Xu for what he did. Many people say the story makes them feel sick to their stomach, and that the idea of ‘cat abuse’ chat groups makes their skin crawl.

“People like this do not change,” one person wrote. “Give you another chance?! Did you give that kitty a chance?!”

“Today he abuses a cat, tomorrow he kills a person. Straight to hell with him,” others wrote: “Go die!”

Xu’s actions are regarded as “negatively impacting society” and he currently is detained in Funan in accordance with the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law. His Bilibili account currently also displays a message that it is getting banned.

Although there are various laws in China regarding wildlife and the protection of animals, there currently is no national law that is explicitly against animal cruelty for all animals. Some legal bloggers explored under which laws Xu could be punished for his actions other than the abuse itself, such as stealing a cat and also uploading such a video to the internet (#虐待无主流浪猫狗或不被处罚#, #公共场合虐待动物并传播视频或犯罪#).

In recent years, voices calling for better laws on animal abuse in China have grown louder. In 2020, after a horrific story of a Chinese security guard pouring scalding water over a cat went viral, Chinese media outlet CCTV called out for a rapid legislation against animal abuse. That same video was shared in light of this incident again.

In 2021, home security cameras captured how anti-epidemic workers beat a pet dog to death in Shangrao. This also caused an online storm over animal abuse during ‘zero Covid.’

“I strongly call for legislation, [we must] defend the bottom line of morality,” some commenters now write: “We will never forgive this.”

By Manya Koetse

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

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Animals

Meanwhile in Panda News: Panda Talk during Macron’s China Visit, Yaya Set to Return to China in Late April

Panda updates! From Yaya in Memphis to Qiqi in Shanghai, these are the pandas that went trending this month.

Manya Koetse

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Panda news flash! After French President Macron’s China state visit, news of France hoping to lengthen the stay of panda celebrities Huan Huan and Yuan Zi in Beauval went trending on Weibo, along with the news that Memhpis-based Yaya is not coming home to China this week.

It is time for another update on what’s been going on in panda news recently for this second What’s on Weibo ‘meanwhile in panda news’ column to give you more insights into 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 recently.

 

◼︎ PANDA TALK DURING MACRON’S CHINA VISIT

Hashtags: #马克龙想续租大熊猫#, #法国博瓦勒动物园想续租大熊猫#

 

In 1973, Chinese giant pandas Yen Yen and Li Li arrived at Zoo de Vincennes in Paris. The two pandas were gifted to French President Georges Pompidou by Zhou Enlai as part of China’s famous panda diplomacy. (Funny fact: the pair were originally thought to be male and female but were later discovered to be two males.)

Now, exactly fifty years later, President Emmanuel Macron is in China with his delegation. Apart from all the major issues such as EU-China relations and the war in Ukraine, ‘panda politics’ are also on the agenda.

Macron arrived in Beijing on April 5 as part of his state visit to China. Among the delegates and business leaders joining Macron, there is also Rodolphe Delord. Delord is the director of the ZooParc de Beauval, a French zoological park that is one of the largest in Europe.

The pandas Huan Huan (欢欢) and Yuan Zi (圆仔) are currently residing in the park. They arrived in France in 2012 as part of a decade-long research & conservation cooperation project between the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and ZooParc de Beauval. Their arrival was also seen as a warming of China-France relations.

In 2017, they had a baby cub named Yuan Meng. In 2021, Huan Huan again gave birth to twin cubs Huan Lili and Yuan Dudu.

The park previously indicated it would like to lengthen the duration of their agreement so that Yuan Zi and Huan Huan can stay in France for the time to come. They are also called “the stars of Beauval.”

During Macron’s visit, the hashtags “Macron Wants to Renew Giang Panda Lease” (#马克龙想续租大熊猫#) and “French Beauval Zoo Wants to Renew the Giant Panda Lease” went trending (#法国博瓦勒动物园想续租大熊猫#).

The French President apparently has an affinity with pandas. As part of his 40th birthday celebrations, Macron met the baby panda Yuan Meng back in 2017. Macron’s wife Brigitte became the cub’s ‘godmother.’ It has not been reported yet at this point if there already is an agreement about the extended lease.

 

◼︎ YAYA TO COME HOME IN LATE APRIL

Hashtags: #孟菲斯提醒未经许可直播丫丫违规#, #丫丫#, #孟菲斯动物园将为丫丫举办告别派对#, #丫丫正式移交中方#

 

Panda Yaya (丫丫), who has been living in America’s Memphis Zoo for two decades, has been a big topic on Chinese social media platforms this year because netizens have been very concerned about her skinny and seemingly unhealthy appearance and how she is being treated in the U.S. (the heightening political tensions between the US and China have not exactly eased these concerns).

According to the American care team, Yaya has been suffering from a chronic skin and fur condition which is related to her immune system and hormonal fluctuations. They claim the condition does not affect her quality of life and that they are closely monitoring Yaya.

Yaya was previously scheduled to return to China in early April of 2023. Yaya’s Memphis Zoo stay was part of a long joint conservation and research project between the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and the U.S. with an agreement duration of ten years, which was extended by ten more years in 2013.

On April 7, the day that Yaya was allegedly scheduled to leave Memphis, it was reported that Memphis Zoo was organizing a ‘goodbye’ event, giving visitors the time to bid farewell to Yaya before she starts her journey to China at the end of April 2023. A related topic received over 170 million clicks on Weibo on Friday (#孟菲斯动物园将为丫丫举办告别派对#).

On Saturday, Yaya got snacks and even a special cake during the goodbye event, which also included Chinese cultural performances.

Although visitors have been livestreaming Yaya at the Memphis Zoo, Chinese state media reported earlier in April that the zoo reminded visitors not to record livestreams of Yaya as it goes against their policies.

This also became a hot topic on Chinese social media: “[Yaya] needs to be livestreamed, all the way until she returned to China,” some said, with others writing: “It’s not hard to understand why they don’t want Yaya to be livestreamed.”

Some netizens and panda fans are disappointed that they will still have to wait for the female panda to return to China. “Why won’t she come to China before late April? Why why why!?”

Although Yaya fans in China will still need to wait for the panda to return, she has officially been handed over to China and a joint team of American and Chinese carers will prepare her for the big trip home (#丫丫正式移交中方#).

 

◼︎ WAITING FOR PANDA QIQI’S RETURN FROM HOSPITAL

Hashtags: #七七确诊肠梗阻将进行手术#, #熊猫七七#

 

While many people are waiting for Yaya’s return, they are also worried about another panda that is Shanghai-based. As one of the most famous pandas living in the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, Qiqi attracted attention on Chinese social media in February of 2023 because of her health problems.

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

Funny detail – Dr Wang arrived at work that day and saw Mr. ‘Panda’ on the patient list, he thought it was a patient named ‘Panda’ (Xiong Mao) until he discovered it was an actual panda getting a CT scan. “We’re a regular hospital,” he said: “Our patients are usually all humans.”

Although intestinal blockage is not common, Qiqi’s older brother Ya’ao (雅奥), who also lived at the park, died of the same condition in March of 2022.

After the surgery, Qiqi received further treatment. According to the latest news at this time, Qiqi has stabilized and is no longer in life danger.

Many Qiqi fans and panda lovers are now waiting for new pictures showing a Qiqi who has, hopefully, fully recovered. “Why haven’t we received more updates?” some wonder.

Read more panda news here.

By Manya Koetse 

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 info@whatsonweibo.com.

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