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New Kind Of ‘Pengci’? Chinese Users Cook Samsung Galaxy Note 7 To Make Battery Explode

After first reports of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery exploding in China, explosions are no purposely caused for compensation – a new kind of ‘pengci’?

Manya Koetse



After first reports of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery exploding in China, Samsung stated that its investigation found no battery problem in the People’s Republic. South Korean media now report that the explosions were purposely caused for compensation. Is deliberately blowing up your smartphone a new kind of ‘pengci’?

Pengci (碰瓷) is a widespread fraud in China that involves deliberately crashing cars and then wanting compensation. Something similarly seems to be happening with the incidents of exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries in China.

A day after Chinese media reported about exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (三星盖乐世Note7) batteries in China, the official Samsung China released a statement through its Weibo account that for at least one of these cases, the fire was caused by heating outside of the phone.


The statement comes after two Chinese Samsung Note 7 users reported their phones exploded over the weekend. The report of these cases in China indicated another setback for Samsung, that was already struggling to restore consumer trust after dozens of reports in other countries of overheating or exploding batteries.

One case that was widely reported by Chinese media on September 18 was brought to light by a 23-year-old netizen who posted pictures of his coral blue note 7 after it allegedly exploded.




The topic “Samsung Note 7 Battery Explosions” (#三星Note7电池爆炸#) became trending on Weibo. By September 19, it had received over 2.1 million views.

“Cooking the Samsung for 2-3 Minutes”

Many netizens are unsure what Samsung actually meant with its statement that the fire was caused by “external” components: “Is Samsung saying that Chinese Samsung users are cooking their phones until they explode?” one netizen wondered.

Another person also commented: “Do you think Chinese people even put their phones in the oven?”

On September 20, South Korean media reported that the Chinese users were indeed deliberately setting off their phones to demand compensation. The incidents occurred after Samsung globally recalled its Galaxy Note 7 over battery fears in early September. After the premium smartphone had been on sale for only two weeks, already 35 faulty phone batteries were reported. The explosions were found to be caused by a battery cell issue.

Samsung assured Chinese customers that they did not need to worry about the global recall since Samsung China uses batteries from a different supplier – which is why the Galaxy Note 7 recall would not affect customers in the People’s Republic (PRC).


After testing the Chinese phones that allegedly exploded, Samsung found they were intentionally heated. According to media reports, similar effects to what is shown on the pictures of the Chinese netizens can be reached after putting the Samsung on an electric cooking plate for 2-3 minutes at 200 degrees. Similar effects can occur when putting the Samsung in the oven or microwave.


A New Kind of Pengci?

The intentional cooking of Samsung smartphones is similar to the phenomenon of ‘pengci’. Pengci (碰瓷,literally: knocking over porcelain) is a type of widespread fraud in China where people deliberately crash against cars and then demand compensation, as can also be seen in the gif below.

Pengci is very common in the PRC, with some extreme cases making headlines occasionally. Earlier this year, Shanghaiist reported an incident where an elderly woman was ‘hit’ by a toy Mercedes car after which she asked for medical help and allegedly wanted to be compensated.


Some people are willing to put themselves at serious risk in hopes of getting compensation. Cooking one’s smartphone belongs in the same category as it can cause an explosion that could potentially danger people around it.

Although the battery explosions in China are found to be intentionally caused, Samsung is already suffering from the widespread fear for phone combustion. Some netizens posted pictures showing specific warning signs at the airport that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 could not be used on board of the airplane.


The topic also triggered many jokes on Chinese social media. One Weibo user posted this picture of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone advertisement right next to a fire extinguisher.


– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of 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, or follow on Twitter.

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China Digital

TikTok’s In-Video Search Function (And How to Activate It)

TikTok shows a glimpse of what in-video search is going to look like in the future.

Manya Koetse



What is TikTok’s new in-video search function and how to activate it?

Twitter’s most awesome WeChat guru Matthew Brennan recently posted about an “in-video search function” launched in the Chinese social video app TikTok (抖音). (Click here to read about the difference between the Chinese and overseas version of TikTok).

As shown in a video posted by Brennan, the function allows TikTok users to select the face or clothes of a person appearing in a short video to search for other videos or images containing the same person or clothes.

The ‘vision search’ is a powerful new function within the super popular app.

The idea is that it becomes easier than ever for Tiktok users to find (and buy!) a piece of clothing, that perfect handbag, or even a snack featured in a video.

It also helps users to quickly find other videos in which an online celebrity appears. The function ultimately is an additional feature that keeps users scrolling and shopping within the app – increasing app traffic – as long as possible.

On September 16, Chinese media reported about the function as a “powerful” new tool that greatly strengthens the functionality of the popular short video app.

The function might not immediately seem completely new to Chinese app users; like Google Image Search, Baidu and Taobao also have similar functions (百度识图, 淘宝识图).

On e-commerce platform Taobao, for example, you can take a photo of an item you want (e.g. a certain snack as in example below) and Taobao will try to find the exact same product and list the online stores where you can buy it.

But TikTok’s in-video search function is on a whole new level; it does not require users to scan or upload a photo at all. It gives an indication of what visual search will be like in the future.

Whatever video comes by in your TikTok stream, you only need to click the “search” function (识图), select the part of the video you want to search for (you can drag the square from area to area), and TikTok will find the product or face you’re looking for – as long as there are comparable products/faces (it does so very fast).

Very much like Taobao, TikTok will recommend various (in-app) online stores where the product can be purchased.

Want to try out the function? For now, it only works in the Chinese version of the app and is still in the ‘testing phase’ and does not work with all videos.

Make sure you have an updated version of TikTok.

1. Go to “me” (我) page within TikTok
2. Tick the three lines in the top right corner
3. Go to the last option in the sidebar menu titled “lab” (实验室)
4. Activate the function (image below).

So now if you spot a dress you like and would like to buy, press the ‘search’ button on the right of a video, select the dress, and TikTok becomes like your personal shopping assistant looking for similar dresses for you.

Tiktok makes shopping supereasy.

This really makes online shopping more addictive than ever, and also makes it more difficult for people in online videos to hide where they bought their clothing, or what other videos they are in.

Read more about Tiktok here.
Read more about Chinese apps here.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Digital

Didi Riders Can Now Have “Verified Party Members” Drive Them Around

Party-building 3.0? Didi has got it covered.

Manya Koetse



First published

This is Party-building in the new era: Didi now allows users of its Premier Car Service to let a verified Party member drive them to their destination.

On September 20, as the People’s Republic of China is nearing its 70th-anniversary celebrations, the country’s most popular taxi-hailing app Didi published an article on Weibo and WeChat explaining its verified Party Member Driver Program.

Recently, riders in Beijing may have noticed something different at Didi’s Premier Car service, which is called “Licheng” 礼橙专车 since June of last year.

Some of Licheng’s drivers now have a red background to their profile photos accompanied by a Communist Party emblem. Upon clicking the profile of these drivers, customers will see that this driver is a Party Member Driver (“党员司机”) – meaning that the Didi driver’s status as a Party member has been verified through Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018.

Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018. Image via Guancha.

Didi writes that these drivers can also be identified as Party members through the red sticker on the dashboard at the passenger side, which literally says “Party member driver.”

The article explains that the recent project is an effort to contribute to China’s Party-building in the digital era, and that Didi aims to establish a Party member community within its company.

This car is driven by a Party member (image via Didi/Weibo).

The company is apparently planning to make this community a lively one, as it promises to provide online and offline activities that will help these drivers stay up to date with the latest developments within the Party, and that will increase their “Party awareness.”

Starting this month, Didi will reportedly also offer “patriotic classes” to all of its drivers via its online classroom program.

China has more than 88 million Party members. Party membership does not come overnight; those who want to become a Communist Party member need to attend Party courses, pass written tests, be recommended by other members, and pass a screening (read more here).

As for now, riders cannot manually pick to have a Party member as their driver; a nearby driver will be automatically selected when they order a car – if it is a Party member, they will know straight away from the driver’s profile.

For now, Didi has set up “mobile Party branches” in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and a number of other cities.

On Weibo, some see the initiative as a marketing move from Didi’s side. “If you hear the driver is a Party member, you know it’s reliable. It’s a good thing.”

The past year was a tough year for Didi, after the murders of two young women by their Didi driver made national headlines, causing outrage and concerns about customer’s safety when hailing a car through the Didi company.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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