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Pelosi in Taiwan: “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues”

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo when Pelosi arrived in Taiwan.

Manya Koetse

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August 2nd was a tumultuous day on Chinese social media, with millions of netizens closely following how Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan. Chinese state media propagate the message that not only Chinese authorities condemn the move, but that the Chinese people denounce it just as much.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is all the talk on Weibo, where netizens are closely following the latest developments and what they might mean for the near future of Taiwan and Sino-American relations.

“Today is a sensitive time, as it is said that Pelosi will fly into Taiwan tonight, challenging the one-China principle,” Global Times political commentator Hu Xijin wrote on Weibo on Tuesday afternoon, while Pelosi’s plane was still en route:

“At this time I’d like to tell everyone, that I firmly believe the Chinese government will definitely take a series of countermeasures, which include military actions. The Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of National Defense have repeatedly said they are “on the alert and combat-ready” and will not “sit and watch.” This is the country’s prestige, how could they not hit back? So let’s wait and see what will happen next.”

Tuesday was an extremely tumultuous day on Chinese social media as Taiwan- and Pelosi-related hashtags popped up one after the other, and news and videos kept flooding the platform, sometimes leading to a temporary overload of Weibo’s servers.

Around 20.30, an hour before Pelosi was expected to land in Taiwan at that time, more than half of all the trending search topics on Weibo related to Pelosi and Taiwan as virtually everyone was following the plane’s route and when it would land.

Not long before the expected landing of Pelosi’s plane, footage circulated on Weibo showing the iconic Taipei 101 building with a display of greetings to Pelosi, welcoming her to Taiwan and thanking her for her support.

By Tuesday night, Chinese official channels promoted the hashtags “The United States Plays With Fire & Will Burn Itself by Taiwan Involvement Provocation” (#美台勾连挑衅玩火必自焚#) along with the hashtag “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues” (​​#干涉中国主权问题14亿人不答应#).

Image posted by Communist Youth League on Weibo.

Millions of Chinese netizens followed flight radar livestreams, with one livestream by China.org receiving over 70 million viewers at one point.

On Tuesday night at 22:44 local time, after taking a detour, Pelosi’s plane finally landed in Taipei. About eight minutes later, Nancy Pelosi, wearing a pink suit, stepped out of the plane together with her delegation.

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo, where Nancy Pelosi has been nicknamed ‘Old Witch’ recently.

Not long after, Hu Xijin posted on both on Twitter (in English) and on Weibo (in Chinese), writing that Pelosi’s landing in Taiwan opened an “era of high-intensity competition between China and US over Taiwan Strait.” Hu wrote that the PLA is announcing a series of actions, including military drill operations and live-fire exercises in zones surrounding Taiwan from August 4 to 7.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (华春莹) also posted a series of tweets condemning the “wrong and dangerous path” the U.S. is allegedly heading down, reiterating the same ‘1.4 billion people do not agree’ narrative that was previously propagated on Weibo by official channels: “Making themselves an enemy of the 1.4 billion Chinese people will not end up well. Acting like a bully in front of the whole world will only make everyone see that the US is the biggest danger to world peace.”

Many netizens expressed frustrations over how seemingly easy it was for Pelosi to land in Taiwan despite repeated warnings. “It’s not like I want us to go to war,” one person wrote on Weibo: “But they are getting off too easy. For days we shouted about countermeasures, what kind of countermeasure is this?”

“Even our community guard who makes 1500 a month [$220] does a better job; if he says you can’t come in, you can’t come in,” another blogger wrote.

The majority of commenters do express their dissatisfaction and anger about Pelosi coming to Taiwan, some even writing: “I hope that Taiwan is liberated when I wake up” or “We must unify again, once the Old Witch is gone, we can do so.”

Passed midnight the hashtag “There Is But One China” (#只有一个中国#), initiated by CCTV, picked up on Weibo and received over 320 million views. The post by CCTV that only said “there is but one China” was forwarded on Weibo over 1,3 million times.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” many people commented.

“I don’t think I can sleep tonight,” some wrote.

Meanwhile, on FreeWeibo, a website monitoring censored posts on Chinese social media platform Weibo, there are some posts casting another light on the Taiwan issue.

“Regarding ‘Taiwan is China’s Taiwan.’ Every person can vote, there’s multi-party rule, and there can be democratic elections. Only then can we talk about a reunification,” one comment said. It was censored shortly after.

For our other articles relating to Pelosi and her Taiwan visit, click here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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©2022 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 Arts & Entertainment

Viral Bilibili Video Featuring Rural Carpenter: Disabled & Determined ‘Uncle’ Becomes Chinese Internet Sensation

Yige Caixiang’s touching portrait of his disabled Uncle shows that it’s not about the cards you’re dealt but about how you play them.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese vlogger Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想) posted a short film on Bilibili about his disabled uncle living in a poor rural area in China. This portrait of his resilient and resourceful ‘Uncle’ has touched the hearts of many netizens, and went viral overnight.

A video that was posted on the Chinese video platform Bilibili on Monday, July 25, has gone viral on social media for the inspiring story it tells about a resilient villager who became disabled as a teenager. The video was uploaded by vlogger ‘Yige Caixiang’ (@衣戈猜想) and received over ten million views in a day, becoming the number one video on the Bilibili platform.

“This is my uncle,” the vlogger can be heard saying at the start of the 11:30-minute video, titled “How Uncle Cured My Mental Friction after Being Back in the Village for Three Days” (回村三天,二舅治好了我的精神内耗), introducing his old uncle and grandma standing in front of their home “built at a time when the U.S. didn’t even exist yet.”

While showing footage of family and village life, Yige Caixiang tells about his uncle through a voice-over, recording his own trip to his family’s village by detailing the life of his mother’s brother.

His uncle used to be the brightest kid in school, he tells, always getting top grades. One day, as a teenager, he got sick with a high fever. A doctor in a neighboring village ‘treated’ Uncle with various injections in his backside, after which Uncle could no longer use his leg and ended up being permanently disabled. Feeling depressed and hopeless, he did not return to school and spent weeks lying in bed. The village teachers were unable to convince him to come back to class.

After three years, Uncle stepped outside of the home courtyard for the first time with his crutches. He was inspired to become a carpenter after seeing one at work in the family courtyard, and so he also started doing the same work, and was able to make a living by going around and doing carpentry jobs for villagers. Never formally diagnosed, he was unable to get a disability certificate.

Wanting to visit Tiananmen Square’s Mao memorial hall, Uncle traveled to Beijing one time and ended up staying with a cousin who worked in the military, doing carpentry work for the soldiers, with whom he soon became friends. A military chief even rubbed his back in the public bath house (“people in Beijing are good at rubbing backs,” he’d later say).

But Uncle eventually returned to his village, and was able to attend his sisters’ wedding send-offs and gave them complete furniture sets personally made by him – a rare possession to have for a young rural bride in the 1980s.

Uncle made complete furniture sets.

Besides taking care of his sisters, Uncle also took care of an abandoned village girl named Ning Ning, whom he adopted. By the time she got married, he was able to help the young couple with the down-payment for their new family home, for which he invested half of his life savings.

 
“It is only when they are near the end of their lives that people come to realize that the biggest regret in life is always regretting the past.”
 

When Uncle was in his thirties, he became acquainted with a married lady from a nearby village. Although she had a husband and two daughters, she spent a lot of time with Uncle and even cooked and cleaned for him. Treating her as if she was his own wife, he handed over his weekly pay to her and was happy to have a bowl of rice and a warm house waiting for him after a hard day of work.

But as time went on, she never divorced her husband and other family members started seeing her as an intruder who was just out for his money to support her own family. The young Ning Ning even called her an “old fox.”

The ending of this peculiar love story remains somewhat of a mystery up to this day, Yige Caixiang says. The woman and her husband passed away in a shed due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Uncle never spoke of it again and also never married another woman.

As the decades passed, Uncle took care of his aging mother while still doing carpentry work, often taking him with her around the area. Years before, he once encountered the doctor who tried to ‘cure’ him. If this had happened now, the doctor had said, I would’ve been sued and lost lots of money. But that never would have happened at that time, and it never happened later either.

Grandmother, at 88, is now struggling with her health and does not have the energy to go on living anymore. “In aging and sickness we find a necessary exercise between life and death,” the vlogger reflects (“老病是生死之间的必要演习”), suggesting that the pain of growing old also makes it easier to be at peace when having to part with life.

By now, taking care of his old mother has become a full-time job for Uncle, who cooks for her and washes her face in the morning and bathes her feet at night. Besides that, he is also more than just a carpenter; he is the village handyman, repairing electronic devices, door locks, radios, stoves, and even fixing broken toys of the neighborhood children. When it is necessary, he can be an acupuncturist and a painter, too.

Whenever there is a problem, Uncle will find a way to solve it. There’s just three things he can’t repair, Yige Caixang says: smartphones, cars, and computers – because Uncle never owned any. Although the villagers sometimes jokingly call Uncle “crooked” because of his leg and crutches, they all know how much they care for him and how much the entire village depends on him.

In the final part of the 11-minute video, Yige Caixiang reflects on what life might have looked like for his Uncle if he had not received those injections in the 1970s. He probably would have taken the national exams, would have gone to study at university, and maybe would have become an engineer with a good income and secure financial future. But Uncle does not want to think like that. Refusing to look back, he is happy with his life in the village.

It is only when they are near the end of their lives that people come to realize that the biggest regret in life is always regretting the past, Yige Caixiang says. The main thing that matters in life is not the cards you were dealt, but how you play them. Uncle was dealt a bad card, but played it beautifully through his continuous self-improvement and perseverance.

In an old notebook underneath Uncle’s bed, a line of text scribbled on the first page shows a Mao Zedong quote: “Be determined, fear no sacrifice, and surmount every difficulty to win victory” (“下定决心,不怕牺牲,排除万难,去争取胜利”).

 
“Let Uncle quietly live together with grandma in the small mountain village – that is the most beautiful ending this story could have.”
 

A day after it was posted, the resilient Uncle is a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media. The overall tone and setting of the video is so spirit-lifting and humbling, that it is not surprising for both netizens and state media outlets to jump on it, just as they did before with stories shared by Ding Zhen, Fan Yusu, or Zhong Jitao.

One hashtag for the short film – “How Uncle Cured My Mental Friction after Being Back in the Village for Three Days” #二舅治好了我的精神内耗# – received a staggering 630 million clicks by Tuesday. The hashtag “Why Did Uncle Blow Up Like That” (#二舅为什么突然火了#) received over 140 million views on Weibo.

The vlogger who made and posted the video is mostly known by his social media handle, Yige Caixiang (衣戈猜想). The maker himself did not release his own real name nor that of his Uncle. The vlogger apparently used to be an instructor, as multiple netizens claim that he was their previous history teacher.

Yige Caixiang is not a Bilibili newcomer. As a creator, he previously uploaded over thirty videos. They are mostly related to popular science and none of them have blown up like this one has.

After the video flooded the internet, Yige Caixiang responded to the hype on Tuesday and posted the following on Weibo:

“Hi Weibo friends, many of you messaged me after seeing Uncle’s video, suggesting I’d let him go livestream on a big streaming site. Thanks to everyone for caring, but now that Uncle is getting some online attention, you want to persuade him to livestream to do what? Repeating his suffering like Xianglin’s Wife (t/n: this is a reference to an old woman in one of Lu Xun’s famous stories), then playing games with a bunch of people who don’t know anything, kneeling and begging them for support, and then suddenly starting to talk them into buying tissue paper? Uncle seriously lived half of his life already, I shared his story now, you heard it and it touched you, this makes a beautiful little story, and it should have a beautiful ending. Didn’t we see enough beautiful stories with a rotten ending over the past few years? Let Uncle quietly live together with grandma in the small mountain village – that is the most beautiful ending this story could have.”

Addressing rumors that the video was not authentic, Yige Caixiang said about the video that “every single word is true” and that none of the details surrounding Uncle’s life had been edited or altered in any way.

The video speaks to netizens for different reasons. Many are inspired due to the life lessons it contains regarding perseverance and not looking back on the things that might have been different. Others praise how Uncle was still able to save so much money for his daughter’s down-payment on her new home despite struggling himself. Many just applaud Uncle’s unparalleled strength despite their disability. Others appreciate the perspective the video gives on Chinese rural life.

There are also those who are concerned about enthusiastic netizens visiting Uncle in his sleepy hometown. Let’s hope the creator’s wish to let Uncle and his grandmother continue their quiet life together is the happy ending this viral story will get.

To view the video (no subtitles yet), state media outlet China Daily posted it to YouTube on Tuesday (embedded below):

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly 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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

The Curious Case of the Henan Bank Depositors and the Changing Health QR Codes

“It must be American hackers who did this, right?”, some Weibo commenters wrote in light of the miraculously changing Health Codes.

Manya Koetse

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Where can people turn to once their money seems to have gone up in flames? How could Health Codes randomly turn from green to red? And who will stand up for justice? These are the questions asked by Chinese netizens in the Henan bank depositors case that is making headlines this week.

This week, the story of a Henan banking scandal and depositors’ Health Codes suddenly turning red triggered online discussions in China and even made international headlines.

In between online deposit products, financial platforms, regional banks, and Health Code systems, the story is a bit messy. Here, we’ll explain the story and its latest developments.

 

DUPED DEPOSITORS

 

The story starts in April of this year when people discovered that they were unable to withdraw money they had invested in online deposit products offered by various smaller regional banks.

Some people had deposited money via the Baidu money app (Du Xiaoman Financial 度小满), others had used another third-party platform, intermediaries, or one of the mini-programs run by the banks themselves.

By early May, it had become clear that dozens of depositors who once thought they had invested their money wisely had actually been duped. Four of the banks involved are located in Henan province, namely: the Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank (禹州新民生村镇银行), Shangcai Huimin County Bank (上蔡惠民村镇银行), Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank (柘城黄淮村镇银行), and the Kaifeng New Oriental Country Bank (开封新东方村镇银行).

But there are also other smaller banks involved, including Guzhen Xinhuaihe Rural Bank (固镇新淮河村镇银行) and Yixian Xinhuaihe Rural Bank (黟县新淮河村镇银行) in Anhui.

As reported by South China Morning Post by late May, multiple customers had confirmed that they had not been able to withdraw funds either online or in person.

The sudden apparent closure of their withdrawal channels set off a wave of panic among depositors, who then protested in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou on May 23rd, demanding the return of their money.

Yang Huajun (杨华军), deputy director of the Henan branch of China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), arrived at the scene of the protests and – speaking through a megaphone – promised the demonstrators that as long as their funds were “legally” deposited, they would be protected by law.

Many depositers, however, were unsure of whether or not their deposits were actually made in a “legal” way and what the definition of “legal” entailed in this case.

Over the past years, Chinese smaller rural banks have partnered with online platforms, often offering relatively high returns, in order to boost their deposit-reliant funding base.

In December of 2020, platforms Alipay, Du Xiaoman Financial, JD.com and Tencent Wealth Management all suspended the sale of online deposit products via their financial apps in light of heightened scrutiny from regulators concerning funds raised by unstable smaller lenders.

The smaller banks that are now at the center of the recent financial scandal then (illegally) reached out to their existing customers directly after December 2020 and convinced them to download the banks’ apps in order to deposit even more money.

One of the persons duped is Mr. Sun from Shenzhen. As reported by Sina Finance, it was in 2020 when Sun came across a seemingly attractive online saving product via the Du Xiaoman Financial app. Although Sun was not familiar with the banks in question, namely the Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank and Shangcai Huimin County Bank, he could not resist the deposit interest rate of 4.6%, which was much better than what the big banks were offering at the time.

In early 2021, Mr. Sun received a text message from Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank saying that although the financial products had been taken offline, users would still be able to deposit through the bank’s own online application. Mr. Sun ended up depositing his entire savings into the Henan-based rural bank, thousands of miles away from his own home.

And then, earlier this year, Sun came across the news that Henan New Wealth Group, the primary shareholder of all banks involved, was under investigation for fraudulous practices. When he opened up his online financial application, there was nothing to see but a notice that the system was under maintenance. Sun could no longer access his funds. Hundreds of other customers were seeing the same empty screens.

According to media reports, the current suspected scam case affects some 400,000 customers of seven local banks and involves a money sum of 40 billion yuan ($5,6 billion).

 

IN THE RED

 

As thousands of depositors have been fighting to recover their savings over the past two months, they were duped a second time earlier this week. Dozens of affected depositors claimed they had seen their Health Codes turn red without any logical reason on June 13 or June 14 – the day of a planned protest.

In China’s Covid era, the Health Code system has become a pivotal tool in the country’s battle to contain the spread of the virus. The Health Code system is embedded in various apps, most importantly in Wechat and Alipay, and uses various data to assess an individual’s exposure risk. There is not one unified national Health Code application; they are developed by different actors and their management is different across Chinese provinces and cities.

If there is no detected risk, an individual is assigned a Green QR Code and is allowed access into any venue or location where a QR code scan is mandatory. With a Yellow Code, you should stay home for a week, and Red Code means you are high risk and need to quarantine for 14 days – this severely limits your freedom to move around and travel.

On June 13th, many affected investors saw their Health Code turn red when arriving in Zhengzhou, where they were allegedly coming to retrieve their savings and protest the injustice they suffered. The QR code color change was unexpected and strange, considering that there were no new reported Covid cases in their vicinity and also considering the fact that accompanying family members who made the exact same journey did not see their Health Codes change.

This raised suspicions that the duped depositors were specifically targeted, and that their Health Codes were being manipulated by authorities.

CNN reported that many distributors who had come to Zhengzhou were taken to a guarded quarantine hotel before being sent back to their hometowns via train the next day. According to a Chinese media report by Nanfang Daily, the depositors were not even asked to do nucleic acid testing and were told by local staff that they would get their Green Code back as soon as they left Henan.

Various media report that minimally 200 depositors saw their Health Code change from Green to Red earlier this week.

 

“OPERATION CODE RED”

 

The curious case of the Henan depositors scandal and the changing Health Code colors has become a trending topic on Chinese social media this week.

The topic of the duped depositors was also discussed online before this week, and it brought back memories of earlier financial scandals, such as the P2P chaos that occurred back in 2018.

But the topic of depositors’ Health Codes changing to Red is something that attracted much wider discussions on the apparent abuse of a system that has now become a part of everyday life for people in China’s Covid era.

The main proof for people that the Henan depositors were targeted in this apparent “Operation Code Red” is that, as mentioned before, the family members that were traveling together with the duped depositors never saw a change in their Health Code: those people who were listed on the affected regional banks’ depositors list were seemingly singled out and purposely targeted.

“Who is in charge of changing the Health Code colors?” became a much-asked question on Weibo, with many blaming local Henan authorities for abusing their powers to try and stop protesters from raising their voices in Zhengzhou. One Weibo post on this issue received over 1,6 million views. Meanwhile, Henan authorities still said they did “not understand” what had happened.

“It must be American hackers who did this, right?”, some Weibo commenters wrote, putting in a sarcastically smiling emoji, with others adding: “No, the aliens did this – it must have been the aliens!”

Others wrote that the situation at hand should be simple to figure out: “There is no way that this is an oversight or a data error. If you want to know who did this, look at who or which department has the authority to manage both epidemic prevention measures as well as finance affairs.”

Many comments also showed a sense of disillusionment with how China’s Covid management affects the people: “After seeing the chaos during the Shanghai lockdown, this does not even surprise me anymore,” one person wrote on Weibo: “All we can do is pray that it won’t happen to us.”

“Why is Henan’s “messy Red Code” incident so extremely vile and scary? Because once a person or institution holding public power looks at you in a bad light, they can give you a Red Code and take you away, in the name of legality. This is the evil that comes from unmonitored power,” one blogger from Anhui wrote.

Other people also worried about foreign media reporting on this issue, saying this incident is being used to cast China in a bad light while local authorities are to blame: “We should unify the Health Code system into a national system in order to avoid this from happening again.”

According to Chinese state media reports, the case has now been forwarded to the Health Commission of Henan Province for further investigation.

We will keep tracking upcoming developments. Meanwhile, check out our other reports on trending topics relating to China’s banking and finance here. For more about Covid-related trending topics, check here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

Image via Weibo

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

References (all other sources included in hyperlinks)

Lee, Amanda. 2022. “Rural Banks Freeze Customers’ Accounts.” South China Morning Post, May 31.

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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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