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Shiny Big Eyelids, Pouty Red Lips? You Might Have Been to the Wrong Terracotta Army

Thought you visited the Terracotta Army, one of the great wonders of the world? You might have been tricked.

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Thought you visited the Terracotta Army, one of the great wonders of the world? You might have been tricked into a cheap replica of the famous tourist site. The complaints of people visiting Xi’an who are tricked by “tour guides” are growing louder.

Recently, one Chinese travel review attracted many readers on Douban, a Chinese social media network. In the blog, titled “Xi’an is a fun city: both its tourist sites and its scammers,” the writer tells how he went through a challenging game of outwitting cunning “tour guides” during his travels in Xi’an.

The netizen shared how he painstakingly defeated all the ‘bosses’ and finally managed to see the REAL Terracotta Army instead of its poor replica.

The ‘game’ began once the blogger had stepped out of the train at Xi’an station, where a fake policeman lured him to the wrong bus. A man in black then tried to convince him that the Terracotta Army pits were so far that he had to take another bus, and a free shuttle bus offered to take him to the real pit.

If it is your first time in Xi’an, and you haven’t done much preparation before the trip, you might fall into the trap and be guided to the “famous sites”: a Terracotta Army pit, an “Eight Wonders of the World” museum, and some other sites where famous historical events supposedly took place.

Here is what you will be seeing when you go to the “famous sites”:

• Shiny terracotta warriors with pouty red lips. Their color, despite what archaeologists say about the paint fading in open air, is vividly preserved. Sometimes they even have a modern-looking girl in their company. [Site: Underground Place of Qin, 秦陵地宫]

terracotta2

terracotta3

• The “Eight Wonders of the World,” where you will see things such as the tomb of Tutankhamen, Egyptian pyramids, or the three goddesses of ancient Greece. [Site: Eight Wonders of the World Museum, 世界八大奇迹馆]

8wonders

egypt

• Or paintings and wax figures depicting people’s lives in the past. [Site: Eight Wonders of the World Museum; Relics of Feast at Hong Gate, 鸿门宴遗址]

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Portrait of Liu Bang, a king in the Three Kingdoms Period (You can also click on the video to experience the trip).

Portrait of Liu Bang, a king in the Three Kingdoms Period
(You can also click on the video to experience the trip).

Although visitors might feel confused and disappointed after such a trip, they often do not not dwell on it for too long; after all, the above three places are officially recognized tourist sites by the Shaanxi Tourism Administration (陕西旅游政务), and have existed for decades.

But since last year, tourists’ complaints have grown louder, especially after the October Golden Week holiday when millions of people came to Xi’an to see the historical wonders of the city. Many were angered that they got to see cheap replicas instead.

The problem is that replica attractions used to be officially recognized tourist spots in the same way as real historical sites were. According to Mr. Zhang, an insider interviewed by Pear Video, the tourist sites with poorly replicated relics were constructed in the 1980s, when tourist resources were still scarce.

The ‘fake’ sites were used to satisfy the curiosity of visitors, so that they could see ‘historical relics’ they would otherwise never have a chance to see.

Although these replicas might have been of acceptable quality 30 years ago, they now seem crude, cheap, and very much outdated.

But more importantly, many historical sites have now become much more accessible to visitors than they were in the 1980s. On one single day in October 2016 alone, the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum had 120,000 visitors. Now that the ‘real’ sites are open for visitors, tourists no longer want to see replicas.

Nevertheless, tourists are still lured to go to these replica sites, only later finding out that they are at the wrong place. According to Mr. Zhang, the operators of these ‘fake’ sites spare no means to cooperate with illegal travel agencies to bring more visitors to their premises.

As a result of the rising complaints, the Xi’an Tourism Board has disqualified the above-mentioned three sites as of September 2016.

Yet according to Chinese netizens and daily newspaper Dushi Kuaibao (@都市快报), the scamming “travel guides” are still ubiquitous in Xi’an, tricking ignorant visitors every day.

Despite all the controversies, Xi’an is still worth a visit. Take this kind advice of a Xi’an netizen who warns travelers not to waste money on cheap scams:

We always welcome guests to Xi’an. If your budget is low, prepare your trip in advance. If your budget is high, stay at a 5-star hotel and rent a car. As long as you do not travel on the cheap, you won’t be cheated. The point of traveling is spending money for enjoyment. If you spend your money at the right place, you will get the most out of it.

-By Diandian Guo
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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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  1. Avatar

    Yapa

    July 25, 2017 at 3:55 am

    Thanks for going to the Museum and take pics.

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China Insight

Red Cross Society of China in Bad Light Due to Online Rumors after Gansu Earthquake

Even though the rumors surrounding the Red Cross might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

Manya Koetse

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A handwarmer for 500 yuan ($70), a tent for 2200 yuan ($308), a blanket for 100 yuan ($14)? An online list detailing items supposedly procured by the Gansu Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts has ignited controversy on Chinese social media in recent days. Although the Red Cross has denied all rumors, the incident underscores public skepticism towards the organization.

After the devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Jishishan (积石山), a county in China’s Gansu Province’s Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, on December 18, Chinese social media platforms were flooded with news related to the disaster. The overnight earthquake killed at least 148 people and left hundreds injured.

News of the earthquake resonated deeply throughout the country, and the ongoing search and rescue operations and relief efforts, hindered by landslides, ruined infrastructure, and freezing temperatures, have attracted major attention online.

While much of the discourse revolves around the goodness of the people contributing to charities and doing all they can to help victims in the affected areas, there is also public distrust surrounding the motives of some charities or helping organizations that might use the disaster as an opportunity to make a profit.

One hotly debated topic revolves around the Red Cross Society of China, after a list surfaced online of items allegedly purchased by the Gansu Red Cross for relief efforts in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake.

Image published on Weibo via Red Cross Society of China (@中国红十字会总会).

The procurement list raised controversy due to the high prices of the common items listed, and because of a supposed “management fee” (管理费) of 1.6 million yuan ($224k).

In response, the Red Cross refuted these claims, asserting that they had not issued any such list (#甘肃红十字称没发布任何物资清单#). On December 24, the Gansu Red Cross took to Weibo (@甘肃省红十字会) to clarify that the circulating information was “grossly inaccurate.” They assured the public that all donations would directly aid earthquake relief efforts, without incurring management fees.

The Red Cross statement on Weibo.

Even though the procurement list might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

“Why does the Red Cross end up in the top trending lists every time?” one commenter wondered: “Their information should be more transparent and timely.”

Others also suggested that merely denying the rumors was not enough, and that they hoped that the Red Cross would provide more details and information to show netizens, of whom many donated money, how their charity money is being spent to help relief efforts in the affected areas in Gansu and Qinghai.

The fact that the Red Cross Weibo post did not allow any commenting did not help: “Why are you afraid to let us openly discuss this?”

 
Red Cross Society of China: Tainted by Suspicion
 

The Red Cross of China, the nation’s largest charitable organization, continues to grapple with a tarnished reputation that partly stems from the 2011 “Guo Meimei Incident.”

Guo Meimei (郭美美), whose real name is Guo Meiling, became an infamous internet celebrity in the summer of 2011 after flaunting her excessive wealth online whilst claiming to work as a “commercial general manager” for the Red Cross Society of China.

The issue severely eroded the society’s credibility, which has been designated by the government as the central public donation organization during times of disasters (Cheng 2016). From luxury handbags to sports cars, the 19-year-old Guo showed off her money on Weibo, and quickly went viral on various message boards as people were angered over corruption and potential misuse of charity money.

Guo Meimei

Despite efforts by the Red Cross Society to debunk these rumors and distance itself from Guo, speculations persisted. Many speculated about Guo’s potential ties to the organization, even if she did not officially work there. As highlighted by Cheng (2016), the public’s negative sentiment toward the Red Cross triggered “a chain of credibility crises” and even spread to other charitable groups in China.

During the 2020 Wuhan Covid outbreak, the Red Cross faced scrutiny for allegedly stockpiling public donations of medical supplies in warehouses rather than promptly distributing them to frontline medical personnel facing shortages.

The current allegations against the Red Cross of China in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake also echo other past controversies, such as the one they dealt with after the 2008 Sichuan quake. Red Cross officials were then also accused of misusing donations by purchasing needlessly expensive tents and vehicles.

 
Donations for the ‘Underdog’: The Han Hong Foundation
 

The growing public distrust towards the Red Cross has arguably paved the way for other Chinese charities to gain prominence. A prime example is the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation (韩红爱心慈善基金会), established in 2012 by renowned Chinese folk singer Han Hong (韩红, 1971).

Although Han Hong has been engaged in charity for many years, during which she invested a lot of her own money, the charity she established became more known after the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation was committed to aid efforts during the Wuhan Covid outbreak in 2020 and the Henan floods in 2021.

Han Hong (center), picture via Xiaohongshu fan of Han Hong.

After the earthquake in Gansu on December 18th, Han Hong’s organization immediately organized rescue teams and provided people in the affected areas with clothes and (medical) supplies. Hang Hong was able to rake in millions thanks to her reputation of being compassionate and altruistic, as well as through her strong network in China’s entertainment industry, leading numerous Chinese celebrities to support her relief efforts.

But Han Hong’s organization is also affected by the public distrust surrounding charity in China. On December 23, it was rumored that her Charity Foundation was officially asked to leave the disaster area as well as to hand over a portion of their donations.

The foundation refuted these claims by issuing a statement on December 25 (#韩红基金会辟谣#).

Statement by Han Hong Love Charity Foundation refuting rumors that their charity work was hindered by officials.

In the public view, there seems to be a big difference between perceptions of large entities like the Red Cross and other ‘official’ charitable organizations versus smaller, more independent initiatives like the Han Hong foundation, which operates as a private charitable entity.

Reflecting on the rumors surrounding both the Red Cross and Han Hong’s foundation, one Weibo commenter noted: “These rumors come into existence because so many of these so-called charitable foundations actually treat charity as their business. And so, they become ‘competitors.’”

Meanwhile, Han Hong’s organization stresses that it operates under the guidance and oversight of the party and government, and only provide emergency support through their support.

In online discussions on the power of the Red Cross versus Han Hong’s organization, some commenters suggest that it is time for the government and authorities to reflect on why a private organization would be more trusted than the Red Cross, a government organized NGO.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “What Han Hong does is true charity instead of business.” Another person replied: “The biggest disaster here is actually the erosion of public trust.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Cheng, Yang. 2016. “Social Media Keep Buzzing! A Test of Contingency Theory in China’s Red Cross Credibility Crisis.” International Journal of Communication, June 2016: pp. 3241+.

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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 Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Tsingtao Brewery ‘Pee-Gate’: Factory Worker Caught Urinating in Raw Material Warehouse

The pee incident, that occurred at a subsidiary Tsingtao Beer factory, has caused concerns among consumers.

Manya Koetse

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A video that has circulated on Chinese social media since October 19 shows how an alleged worker at a Tsingtao Beer factory climbs over a wall at the raw material production site and starts to urinate.

The incident reportedly occurred at the Tsingtao Beer Factory No. 3, a subsidiary of the Tsingtao Brewing Company, located in Qingdao, Shandong.

After the video went viral, the Tsingtao Brewery Company issued a statement that they took the incident very seriously and immediately report it to the authorities, who have started an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the specific batch in production has been halted and shut off.

The incident has caused concern among consumers, and some commenters on social media wonder if this was the first time something like this has happened. “How do we know this hasn’t happened many times before?”

Others speculate about what might have motivated the man to urinate at the production site. There are those who believe that the man is part of an undercover operation orchestrated by a rivaling company, aimed at discrediting Tsingtao. It’s even suggested that there were two ‘moles’ leaking in this incident: one doing the urinating, and the other doing the video ‘leak.’

Meanwhile, there are voices who are critical of Tsingtao, suggesting that the renowned beer brand has not effectively addressed the ‘pee gate’ scandal. It remains uncertain how this incident will impact the brand, but some netizens are already expressing reservations about ordering a Tsingtao beer as a result.

But there are also those who joke about the “pissing incident,” wondering if Tsingtao Beer might soon launch a special “urine flavored beer.”

By Manya Koetse

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Featured photo by Jay Ang (link).

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