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Why This Murder Case is Still Making Headlines in China after 378 Days

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A 2016 murder case revolving around Chinese exchange students in Japan has become a media spectacle outside the courtroom. Since the victim’s mother turned to netizens for help earlier this year, the story has become a ‘public drama.’

It was November 3, 2016, when the 24-year-old Chinese student Jiang Ge (江歌) was fatally stabbed outside her apartment in Tokyo.

Five days later, the 25-year-old Chinese graduate student Chen Shifeng (陈世峰) was charged with Jiang’s murder.

Outside Jiang’s former Tokyo apartment, in the Nakano neighborhood.

Chen, who was captured by surveillance cameras at the time of the murder, was the ex-boyfriend of Jiang’s close friend Liu Xin (刘鑫), a fellow exchange student from Qingdao. Liu had become Jiang’s roommate since she broke up with Chen two months before the fatal stabbing.

According to media reports, Chen Shifeng initially headed to Jiang’s apartment to look for his ex-girlfriend Liu Xin that afternoon. After a confrontation, Chen and the two young women left the apartment. When Liu and Jiang arrived back later that night, it was Liu who went inside first.

Exchange students Liu (left) and Jiang (right).

Jiang, who was still outside the apartment, screamed as she was attacked. Liu claimed she heard her friend’s cries and tried to open the door to help her, but found the door blocked. She then called the police.

Demanding the Death Penalty Through an Online Petition

The case is now again making headlines and has become a recurring daily trending topic on Weibo. Updates on the case easily receive 50,000 comments per article, with every day over the past week bringing new insights into the case.

One of the reasons the case is receiving heightened attention is that the murder suspect Chen Shifeng is scheduled to go on trial in Japan on December 11.

The victim’s mother Jiang Qiulian (@江秋莲) is currently collecting signatures on the streets of Tokyo for an online petition that calls for the death penalty for Chen, and she is speaking to media reporters on a daily basis.

The death penalty is legal in Japan, although people are rarely given that sentence. It is applied in practice only for murder, and executions are carried out by hanging. Jiang Qiulian says her only wish is for Chen to be sentenced to death to seek justice for her daughter’s death.

“Because she does not trust the justice system, Jiang’s mother has chosen to seek public support instead,” one person wrote on Weibo.

But it is not just the legal aspect of the case that has gotten netizens clicking, sharing, and commenting to every article. The moral facets underlying the case are triggering heated debates.

Liu Xin on Public Trial

Liu Xin, the friend who was inside the apartment while her friend was being murdered outside in the corridor, is under fire on social media for her behavior and reactions during and after that fatal day.

According to China Daily, mother Jiang Qiulian blames Liu for allegedly purposely locking Jiang out when she was attacked.

She also criticizes Liu for never explaining the details of Jiang’s death to the victim’s family, avoiding any contact with them, and not even sending her condolences after the murder.

The matter transformed into a ‘public drama’ when Jiang’s mother turned to Weibo in May of this year, exposing personal information of Liu and her family, and asking netizens for help in tracing her down.

As a consequence, the media is now for a large part focusing on developments outside the courtroom. The first emotional meeting between Jiang’s mother and Liu Xin, which took place in August, was recorded and widely shared on social media last Friday.

An emotional first meeting between Jiang’s mother and Liu Xin.

During the meeting, Liu Xin said Jiang was protecting her against her former boyfriend, and that she never purposely prevented Jiang from coming back into the apartment.

Liu previously told Chinese news outlet thepaper.cn that she could not contact Jiang’s family after the incident because she was under the supervision and protection of the police, and had to protect the confidentiality of the evidence, and said she did not lock the door before Jiang was attacked.

Nevertheless, netizens blame Liu for caring more about her personal matters than the life of her friend. Jiang’s mother also stated to reporters that she will not forgive her daughter’s friend.

“This is not even about whether or not Liu Xin opened the door for her friend, it is about her attitude later on,” many on Weibo say.

“Chen Shifeng deserves to die, but Liu Xin does not deserve a good life,” some commenters stated.

But some people on Weibo criticize the public backlash against Liu Xin, suggesting that social media users are blindly following the reasoning of a traumatized mother. “Jiang’s mother is a crazy dog,” they write: “And Chinese netizens are the sheep.”

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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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Moka

    November 16, 2017 at 1:46 am

    Not just hiding, Liu’s parents also called Jiang’s mother up after they were tracked down, and insulted the victim verbally, one famous quote being: your daughter’s life is short, which has nothing to do with us.

    • Js

      November 19, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      You forget that this was after the family had been bombarded with hate messages, death threats and wishes of rape upon Liu Xin herself. Liu Xin’s parents certainly said unforgivable things, but this does not reflect on Liu Xin herself nor was it unprovoked.

  2. Joey

    March 16, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Liu’s testimony on how she was unable to open the door appears to be questionable given that she was on the inside of the apartment. She seems to be purposely avoiding the victim’s mother as well.

  3. Margaret Garner

    October 8, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I read of this story and now want to say I am so sorry to the mother of the victim and I wish the best for her. I am American. I hope she can translate this to Chinese. So sorry for the loss of your precious daughter.

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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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