On October 4th, a netizen from Tianjin (@查派017) posted about a violent incident he witnessed that involved a female street cleaner and two persons, one being a professor from the Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. The two allegedly beat up a female sanitation worker for blocking their way on a road outside the university campus in Xi’an.
The person’s Weibo post about the incident was shared over 93,000 times within 24 hours, attracting ten thousands of comments from angry netizens.
“How much money do I make and how much money do you make?”
This is a full translation of the post*, which was published on Sina Weibo along with several screenshots of a video of the incident.
“On October 4, 2017, around 2 in the afternoon, a male and female college staff member beat up a female sanitation worker. I want to expose these two pieces of scum.”
“I was just resting indoors when I heard a loud weeping coming from outside the window. I initially thought that parents were teaching their child a lesson, but after a few minutes, the crying grew louder and it did not sound like a child. From the window I then saw a female sanitation worker slowly getting up from a pile of garbage, while a woman was pushing her, yelling: ‘How much money do I make and how much money do you make? You’re now keeping me from making money!'”
“At this time, a man came forward to beat the female cleaner, and I shouted from my window: ‘You are bullying a sanitation worker, you are shameless!’ At this point, they discovered that other people were watching them, and they stopped what they were doing. The man wanted to back up his car and get away, but he was already stopped by some of the neighbors around.”
“As I rushed to the scene, the man shouted at me: ‘She let me beat her herself!’ The woman’s attitude was still bad. Before reporting to the police, I shot a video and told them I would expose them. Again their attitude changed, and at this time there were more and more people who were criticizing them. An older man told me that the man had hit the sanitation worker and that he had kicked her several times.”
“While filing a report at the police station, there was a man who said he was the man’s assistant, and he explained to the police that the man originally came from the countryside but that he had lived in Japan and the US for some years before returning home and that he does not understand the situation here and that was why he beat someone.“
“That infuriated me. As if he could just randomly beat up people in other countries? I also understood from his assistant that the man was a professor working for the Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, that he was a doctor who had just been given a 10 million yuan project, and that he hoped we would not expose him. I heard that the woman works at the human resource department of Shaanxi University. I am writing this after just coming back from the police station – I hope to let everyone know that these kinds of worthless people are not fit to be a teacher.“
Of the thousands of people who commented on the post, the majority mainly criticizes the male professor involved in this incident and is enraged that someone with such a high social status would pick on someone so vulnerable.
“It is the Mid-Autumn Festival and you are having your vacation while this sanitation worker is at work. How can you be so low, you have no humanity in you. As a professor, you are unfit to teach!”, one angry commenter wrote.
“It is clear that educational background and moral standing are not directly connected,” another person said.
“Just suspended? Why not immediately fired?”
Shortly after published, the post triggered the so-called ‘human flesh search engine’ (人肉搜索), meaning that netizens worked together to identify and expose the persons involved in controversial incidents.
One commenter soon came up with personal details of the man involved, stating he was a 38-year-old Shaanxi resident by the name of Ge who was indeed working as a professor and had previously lived and studied abroad, being connected to both the Kyoto Institute of Technology and the University of Oklahoma.
On October 5, Chinese state media also reported the incident and confirmed it indeed involved a certain Dr. Ge who was a teacher at the Shaanxi University. They also wrote that the university has now suspended the man from his post and that local authorities are currently investigating the case.
“Just suspended? Why was he not immediately fired?”, many commenters wondered.
Chinese media have not reported on the status of the woman involved in the violent beating, but Shaanxi University has stated that she does not work at their institution, but is a family member of Ge.
“These kinds of people do not belong in education.”
Since the incident has attracted so much attention within just one day, the professor has apologized to the sanitation worker and her family through a letter.
The letter was posted on the official Weibo account of the Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, which wrote that “Mr. Ge has realized that his actions are terribly wrong, and is active in [arranging] medical treatment for the person involved.”
The university also made a public statement that it strongly denounced Mr. Ge’s actions and that they were taking the matter very seriously.
The apology-letter post also received over 25,000 comments within hours. Many people say they do not accept Mr. Ge’s apology, and demand that he immediately gets fired, writing that “these kinds of people do not belong in education.”
Sanitation workers or street cleaners do not have an easy life in China, and face many difficulties. Although they are nicknamed “angels of the road” (马路天使), their working circumstances are far from heaven.
Public cleaners in China generally work long hours and receive the national minimum pay. Normally there is no workstation for workers to take a break or recover from the extreme heat or cold. Working safety is also an important issue, as street cleaners are exposed to dangerous situations when cleaning roads with busy traffic. Street cleaners are often get injured or even die due to road accidents.
To increase public awareness and appreciation for the work of street cleaners, October 26 has turned into a special day in China to honor the country’s street cleaners and sanitation workers.
*Original post text:
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“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors
The Bookworm Beijing, at Nansanlitun Road, is a bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space that has become a center of cultural exchange for Beijing’s foreign community since 2005.
The location is a beating heart of Beijing’s literary world; a place where writers, journalists, students, diplomats, academics, and all kinds of people – both foreign and Chinese – come together to exchange knowledge, read, and sit down for a glass of wine.
Today, the Bookworm announced its sudden closure via WeChat, writing:
“It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease.”
The announcement further says that the location will be forced to suspend operations “most probably” as of Monday, November 11, and that the Bookworm will attempt to reorganize and find a new location.
News of the Bookworm’s closing has been becoming a topic of conversation on various social media sites from WeChat to Twitter and Weibo.
Famous Chinese journalist and author Luo Changping (罗昌平) writes on Weibo: “The Bookworm is forced to close! It used to be next door to my former office, and it was once like my living room. Sigh.”
Shanghai comedian Storm Xu called the closure of the Beijing Bookworm “the end of an era,” saying he looks back on many good memories there.
“They had many events, good food, special books; I used to go there a few times per year,” one person writes. “This really is so sad,” other Weibo users respond.
There are also various Weibo commenters who also mention that news of Bookworm’s closing comes just a day after the news that publisher of magazine-books and online bookseller Duku Books (读库) is forced to close its Beijing warehouse for the sixth time.
Over the past decade, many popular venues in Beijing have been forced to close their doors or relocate. Beijing hangouts such as Bed Bar, Salud, Vineyard Cafe, 2 Kolegas, Jiangjinjiuba, Mao Livehouse, Hercules, Aperativo, The Bridge Cafe, Great Leap Brewery Sanlitun, Jing-A Taproom 1949, and many others have all been closed over the past years.
Nightlife hotspot Sanlitun bar street was demolished and bricked up in 2017 as part of the mission of the city management to gentrify the area.
The demolishment of “illegal structures” in the city has been an ongoing effort of the local government for years. These efforts became especially visible in late 2017 when people in Beijing’s Daxing area faced a large-scale evacuation campaign after a big fire broke out there on November 18, killing 19 people.
The large-scale evacuation campaign was also expanded to other areas of Beijing in a campaign by the municipal authorities aimed at unlicensed developments to target “illegal structures” and “buildings with potential fire hazards.”
But many people on Weibo and WeChat questioned if the campaign was actually more about politics than about safety concerns – something that was strongly refuted by state media outlets at the time.
These questions will remain unanswered, also for the Bookworm. Is its closure really about closing down an “illegal structure,” or are there more politically-motivated considerations playing a role here? On Weibo, some commenters say the location is closed down for being a home of free discussions and “free thinking,” while others say that no matter what the place is, the building’s safety and legal status is what matters here.
Perhaps the future will tell. We surely hope the Bookworm will soon pop up and open its doors in another location very soon.
Those who are interested can support the Bookworm by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted, until November 11.
By Manya Koetse
Images: Bookworm images by The Bookworm, edited by What’s on Weibo.
Sanlitun Image: Might have been taken by Manya in Beijing 2017, but we’re not 100% sure so let us know if we’re mistaken.
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Online Anger over Inappropriate Toast by Dutch Watch Brand Executive at Chinese Dinner Party
This is how NOT to do a toast in Dutch!
UPDATE: FYI – the videos relating to this incident have been taken offline after the publication of this article. There are no active video links in this article.
The Amsterdam-based watch & jewelry brand Rosefield has recently come under fire within the Chinese community in the Netherlands after a video went viral showing Rosefield’s CEO and its Head of Sourcing proposing an unusual toast at a Chinese dinner party.
The video, that was viewed over 173,000 times on Dutch site Dumpert.nl, shows a woman in a white blouse bringing out a toast, saying:
“In Dutch, we say ‘ganbei’ or ‘cheers’ in this way, and it would be nice if you all can say the same, we say: ‘dikke lul.‘”
The people at the table then proceed to toast saying “Dikke lul” – which, in fact, is not the Dutch word for ‘cheers’ but for ‘big dick,’ something that the Chinese people at the table are seemingly not aware of.
On WeChat, Chinese-language newspaper Asian News (华侨新天地) reported about the video and identified the Dutch woman and man at the table as the CPO and CEO of Rosefield Watches, a fast-growing luxury brand that is active in various countries.
Asian News describes the incident as a way of “ridiculing Chinese friends,” and writes it has triggered anger online.
Asian News (华侨新天地) is a Chinese language newspaper founded in 1992. It is mainly distributed in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Its WeChat account has some 120,200 followers, and the post on the ‘cheers’ video was among its most-well read on WeChat this week.
The blog post noted that ever since the ‘dikke lul’ video has gone viral in the Netherlands, it has become one of the first results showing up when searching for the vulgar expression ‘dikke lul’ on Google.
Although it is not clear where the video was filmed and how it ended up on short video site Dumpert, it is rumored in WeChat groups that it was recorded during the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair earlier this month, and that the Chinese guests are business relations of the Dutch brand (unconfirmed).
The comment section on the Dumpert site shows that although some Dutch commenters think the video is funny, there are many who find it “vulgar,” “rude,” and “distasteful.”
Although many (overseas) Chinese expressed anger in various WeChat groups – some expressing regret over a Rosefield watch they recently purchased – the Asia News blog does remind readers that we do not know the context of the video, and whether or not there was a certain pretext or common understanding to the joke.
Nevertheless, the blog states, this kind of behavior is not professional and if a company such as Rosefield wants to earn money in China, “it should also respect Chinese culture and people.”
Although there have been ample discussions about the controversial video on Wechat, there are no online discussions about this issue on Weibo at the time of writing.
Over the past year, many foreign brands became a focus for controversy in China.
In November of 2018, Italian fashion house D&G faced consumer outrage and backlash on Chinese social media for a video that was deemed ‘racist’ to China and for insulting remarks about Chinese people allegedly made by designer Stefano Gabbana.
Swiss investment bank UBS sparked controversy in June for a column which mentioned “Chinese pigs.”
Over this summer, various foreign companies apologized to China for listing ‘Hong Kong’ as a separate country or region on its websites and/or t-shirts.
Still curious about how to actually say ‘cheers’ in Dutch? It’s ‘proost’ and this is how you pronounce it correctly.
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