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Shouqi Ride-Hailing Incident: Hangzhou Female Passenger Jumps from Moving Car

‘Delusional’ or ‘vigilant’? Weibo discussions over the woman who jumped from a moving vehicle when her Shouqi driver deviated from the route.

Manya Koetse

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After the Didi murders and the Huolala case, the ‘Shouqi incident’ is now making headlines in China, showing that there is still a lot of distrust in car-hailing services among Chinese female passengers.

The story of a female passenger jumping from a moving taxi she had arranged via ride-hailing app Shouqi (首汽约车) has gone viral on Chinese social media.

The passenger, Ms. Gao, jumped from the moving vehicle in the late afternoon of June 12 because she feared for her personal safety after the driver had allegedly deviated from the intended route.

Ms. Gao was traveling from Hangzhou to Fuyang when the incident occurred. The woman states that once she got in the taxi, the driver attempted to make a pass at her and changed the route twice.

Gao eventually decided to jump from the moving car, resulting in a fractured left arm and extensive bruising.

Ms. Gao in hospital, photo via Sohu.com.

Shouqi is a state-backed online ride-hailing platform founded in 2015 that focuses on luxury & high-quality services.

Shouqi Responds

On June 19, Shouqi officially responded to the matter after carrying out an investigation.

According to the Shouqi report, their driver, Zhang, deviated from the navigation route because he opted to take a faster road that had been newly opened and was not recognized by the navigation app yet. Since he had taken this alternative route, the voice navigation kept reminding him that he was taking the wrong route. The female passenger jumped out of the car shortly afterward.

Part of Shouqi’s statement.

Shouqi states that according to protocol, there is an audio recording of the journey. Although the recording did capture the voice navigation indicating the car was deviating from the original route, there was no sign of an altercation or discussion between the driver and the passenger before she jumped out. The company also said it would release the recording to the media if Ms. Gao would give them permission to do so.

After Gao had jumped from the vehicle, driver Zhang allegedly pulled over to check on her and immediately called the emergency number for medical help. Meanwhile, Gao tried to alert other cars that were passing by to get help. Afterward, Zhang drove to the local police station to cooperate with the investigation.

The company’s statement further says that local authorities claim the incident was caused by a “misunderstanding” between the passenger and the driver.

In the statement, the car-hailing company does apologize for the incident. They also claim their driver has been reprimanded for not properly communicating with his passenger. Shouqi furthermore says they will cover the passenger’s medical expenses.

“Fabricated Facts”

On June 20, Ms. Gao wrote up a response to Shouqi’s statement, which she published on social media (@步步登高_乐). According to Gao, Shouqi’s statement contains many falsehoods and “fabricated facts.”

Ms. Gao talking to Chinese media about what really happened during the incident.

Gao says that the driver never told her anything about taking an alternative route. She also denies that Zhang called the emergency number after she had jumped out, and emphasizes that the local authorities have never issued any official statement nor made any conclusions about the matter. Shouqi has also never paid for her medical expenses, and have not released any recordings of the incident to Gao.

By Monday afternoon local time, Gao’s response was shared on Weibo over 23,000 times, receiving over 32,000 comments. The topic also reached the top trending topics on the social media platform.

The safety of female passengers making use of online car-hailing apps is a recurring topic of discussion in China, where several incidents involving Uber-like services triggered outrage among web users over the past few years.

The biggest case was the murder of a Chinese stewardess by a driver of the Didi Chuxing car-hailing app in 2018, which became one of the most discussed topics of that year. Shortly before going missing, the 21-year-old woman from Zhengzhou had texted her friend that the driver of the ride she had arranged was “acting strange.” Her body was found the next day. The driver’s body was retrieved from a river nearby.

The horrific case was followed by a second Didi murder of a 20-year-old woman in Wenzhou. The victim was on her way to a birthday party when she contacted a friend via text asking for help. She was later found to have been raped and killed in a mountainous area nearby. The 27-year-old driver was arrested. These two cases, which also brought other cases to light in which female passengers were abused by their drivers, sparked major public concerns about the safety of these online platforms.

In February of 2021, the Huolala case also made headlines in China: a 23-year-old woman named Che Shasha jumped out of the window of a moving van she rented via the ride-hailing firm Huolala when the driver, a man by the name of Zhou, had deviated from the intended route. Che, who was uncomfortable and scared, asked Zhou about the different routes multiple times, but he remained silent. When Che exited the vehicle via the passenger window, the driver reportedly did not do anything to stop her. The young woman died four days after the incident due to severe brain injury due to her fall.

These previous cases have heightened public awareness on the safety of female passengers, but some commenters also think it might have led to women being too scared when using ride-hailing apps.

Although most commenters support Ms. Gao and say that Shouqi should release the recordings to make the truth come out, there are also web users who say Gao is “delusional” and that her fears were ungrounded.

“If she really would’ve been murdered, people would say she wasn’t vigilant enough. Now, she was vigilant and people say she was being delusional. You just don’t have the empathy to understand the fear of female passengers,” one commenter writes.

Without any released recordings and no official police report, web users are still waiting for further developments in this case. If it would be up to Ms. Gao, it will soon be publicly revealed that she indeed was in danger. For now, she is seeking more media exposure so that “the bad guys will be punished for the injuries she suffered,” she told Chinese media reporters from her hospital bed.

We will update this story once more information comes out.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)

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.

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 Society

“Elderlies” in Their Thirties: The Growing Interest of Chinese Youth in Nursing Homes

Some Chinese nursing homes are evolving into sought-after havens where China’s younger people can “lie flat” without worrying about meals and household chores, while enjoying a high-quality lifestyle.

Zilan Qian

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Chinese nursing homes are changing their image in the social media age. While Chinese vloggers experiment with living in old people’s homes, and nursing homes are modernizing their facilities, some senior care centers are offering young people the chance to reside in their communities for free – as long as they spend some time with their elderly residents.

In China, nursing homes (养老院, yǎnglǎoyuàn) are usually not linked to lively living spaces. Many picture elderly residents trapped in dull daily routines, lacking companionship, without any visitors or children around, simply awaiting the inevitable alone.

However, these places, once synonymous with boredom, loneliness, and the end of life, are now piquing the interest of younger generations in China, breathing new life into them and transforming them into more vibrant living communities.

Recently, a nursing home in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, began to recruit young people to live there. The initiative is a part of the “Companion Aging Program” promoted by the local civil affair bureau.

Its objective is twofold. One the one hand, it provides new living environments for younger generations facing difficulties in securing housing. On the other hand, it alleviates the burden of social isolation on seniors who struggle to stay in touch with the communities around them.

The program is focused on attracting young people, especially those who have just entered the workforce. They can stay in one-bedroom apartments within nursing homes for free, with only a small monthly management fee of 300 yuan ($41). The only requirement is that they spend at least ten hours each month engaging in activities with elderly residents, like sharing meals, going for walks, or having conversations.

A young resident is accompanying an elderly at the nursing home. Image via The Paper.

The government initiators stress the program’s win-win situation. A staff member at the bureau explains, “The program can provide accompany to satisfy seniors’ emotional needs, while also helping ‘companions’ to save on rental costs.”

To ensure that the program is indeed mutually beneficial, the government has established specific criteria for potential senior companions. These requirements include not having current residents in the city, holding at least a junior college education level, and having desirable backgrounds in fields such as medicine, psychology, information technology, arts, or law.

The program has been well-received thus far. In a Weibo poll with the hashtag “Are you willing to live in nursing homes for free by accompanying old people?” (#你愿意陪伴老年人免费入住养老院吗#), initiated by Xinjin News (@新京报), 55% of the respondents wholeheartedly support the initiative, while approximately 30% remain undecided.

According to another recent Weibo post by Sina News, the nursing home has already received hundreds of resumes from applicants.

 
“The Old Man in His Thirties”: Young People Who Want to Live in Nursing Homes
 

In the meantime, living in nursing homes seems to have become increasingly popular among young people in China, even when it’s not always free of charge. Nursing homes have not only been portrayed in more favorable lights on social media by state media outlets, they have also taken proactive measures themselves to improve their image.

Thanks to these collective efforts, what were once seen as lonely and uninspiring places are now seemingly transforming into popular residences where China’s younger people can “lie flat” (read more), without worrying about meals and household chores, while enjoying a high-quality lifestyle.

On social app Xiaohongshu, one user named “The Old Man in His Thirties” (三旬老汉) has recently been documenting his experience of moving to a nursing home.

In his first video, somewhat jokingly, he talks about quitting his job due to overwhelming work demands and choosing to embrace a “lie-flat” lifestyle (“躺平”). He was drawn to the nursing home because it provides meals, takes care of residents, and handles daily chores.

Titled “Day xx of living in a nursing home at the age of thirty” (“三十岁入住养老院的第xx天”), his subsequent videos showcase the nursing home staff preparing delicious meals for him, getting him snacks, and even engaging in esports activities with him. These videos also feature his humorous interactions with his roommate, a senior resident in his seventies.

Another post-95 generation Xiaohongshu user (久久姨家政) recently also shared his experiences of living in an old people’s home. His videos revolve around talking to older residents, enjoying meals with them or joking around. There are also other accounts, all young Chinese vloggers, sharing their own journeys of moving into senior care facilities.

This 25-year-old vlogger shared his experiences of living in a nursing home.

Although these videos are apparently filmed based on written scripts, many netizens still see the attractiveness of nursing homes through these kinds of videos and posts. Many viewers have left comments under these videos expressing their desire to reside in senior living communities, asking for locations and inquiring about the costs.

Since the first video by “The Old Man in His Thirties” was posted in mid-June, the series has documented approximately 70 days of life in the nursing home. By now, the account has nearly 60,000 followers, and the videos accumulated thousands of likes.

In addition to improving their image through social media, some nursing homes in China have also enhanced their appeal by upgrading facilities. Gyms, swimming pools, snooker tables, free wifi and esports rooms – a variety of amenities have been introduced to transform nursing homes into modern spaces that also cater to the preferences of younger individuals.

Some private nursing homes also market themselves as “nursing homes even young people would want to live in,” emphasizing the exceptional quality and modern standards of services and facilities.

A Xiaohongshu blogger promoting a private nursing home equipped with gyms, swimming pools, and spa services under the title “what does it feel like to live in nursing homes in the thirties?”

This online promotion has had the surprising by-effect that younger and middle-aged people are also changing their attitudes about moving into nursing homes when they are old and retired.

Hiaohongshu user experiencing life in a nursing home in Suzhou: “I’m only 20 years old and living in an old people’s home already!”

While some nursing homes across the country are offering free short stays for young Chinese, other individuals have gone as far as paying for a short stay to personally experience various nursing homes. One Xiaohongshu user, after spending a night at a local upscale nursing home and sharing her experience with a friend, commented, “After the immersive experience, I’m eager to apply for long-term residency right away.”

 
A Path to Change Eldercare in Aging China
 

The growing interest of young people in nursing homes is not merely a coincidental trend arising from local government initiatives or viral social media trends.

Elderly care services have been a significant focal point of China’s national strategies for several years, driven by the projected fourfold increase in the elderly population, from 36 million to 150 million, in the next three decades.

In early May of this year, the government issued guidelines aimed at establishing a comprehensive elderly care system by 2025. These guidelines emphasize the provision of material support to elderly individuals living alone, which includes the improvement of services and facilities within nursing homes.

This increased focus on nursing homes may indicate a shift in China’s eldercare strategies, particularly in light of the significant decline in birth rates. From 2011 to 2020, China prioritized a home-based eldercare system, encouraging younger generations to live in close proximity to their elderly relatives through restructured healthcare facilities and the promotion of filial piety.

Between 2015 and 2020, the central government allocated 5 billion yuan (approximately USD 743 million) to support new pilot programs for home-based elderly care services (Krings et al 2022).

However, with record-low marriage and birth rates, it is likely that a significant number of young people today will later lack the younger family members needed to provide home-based care as they age. Consequently, nursing homes are bound to play a more crucial role in China’s future eldercare industry.

Xiaohongshu post promoting a Suzhou high-end nursing home.

In Chinese society, older adults residing in nursing homes are often regarded as examples of personal failures for not having loving families with caring children (Luo & Zhan 2911). Moreover, concerns about potential mistreatment of vulnerable elderly residents by staff members at nursing homes persist.

The increasing interest and recent active involvement of young people in nursing homes offer a way to challenge old stereotypes and bring new ideas to the changing eldercare landscape in China. Perhaps most importantly, it helps combat the loneliness that many seniors face while bridging the gap between the country’s younger and older generations.

By Zilan Qian

References (other sources hyperlinked in text):

Krings, Marion F., Jeroen D. van Wijngaarden, Shasha Yuan, and Robbert Huijsman. 2022. “China’s Elder Care Policies 1994–2020: A Narrative Document Analysis.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 10: 6141.

Luo, Baozhen, and Heying Zhan. 2011. “Filial Piety and Functional Support: Understanding Intergenerational Solidarity among Families with Migrated Children in Rural China.” Ageing International 37, no. 1: 69–92.

 

This article has been edited for clarity by Manya Koetse

 

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China Local News

Changsha Restaurant Employee Pays the Price after Protecting Abused Child

A Changsha restaurant employee who intervened when a mother beat her child ended up paying the price for it.

Manya Koetse

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The story of a restaurant employee who had to pay the price for sharing a video of a mother beating her child has triggered anger on Chinese social media.

The incident happened on September 14, when Mr. Jiang (江), an employee at the ‘Peng Shu’ Western-style restaurant in Changsha, stopped a mother from beating her young daughter at the shopping mall where the restaurant is located.

As reported by the Guizhou media channel People’s Focus (@百姓关注), a mother and daughter at the restaurant drew the staff’s attention when the mother began physically assaulting her daughter.

The mother, clearly overwhelmed by her emotions, resorted to kicking, hitting, yelling, and even attempting to strike her child with a chair, allegedly in response to the child accidentally spilling ice cream on her clothing.

During this distressing incident, which was captured on video, Mr. Jiang and another colleague intervened to protect the child and immediately alerted the police to the situation.

But the one who was punished in the end was not the mother.

The video of this incident was shared online, leading the woman to repeatedly visit the restaurant in frustration over her unblurred face in the video. The police had to mediate in this dispute.

To the dismay of many netizens, the employee ended up being forced to pay the woman 10,000 yuan ($1369) in compensation for “moral damages.” He has since resigned from his job and has left Changsha. A related hashtag was viewed over 110 million times on Weibo (#餐厅员工发顾客打娃视频后赔1万离职#) and also became a hot topic on Douyin.

The majority of commenters expressed their anger at the unjust outcome where a restaurant employee, who had attempted to protect the child, faced repercussions while the mother appeared to avoid any legal consequences for her actions.

“Where is the All-China Women’s Federation when you need them?” some wondered, while others wanted to know why the incident was not followed up with an immediate investigation into the child abuse. Others suggested that if it were a man who had beaten his child, authorities would have been quicker to intervene.

The issue of corporal punishment for children often comes up in Chinese social media discussions. While many people find it unacceptable to beat children, using violence to discipline children is also commonplace in many families.

When China’s first national law against domestic violence came into effect on 1 March 2016, article 5 and 12 specifically addressed the special legal protection of children and made family violence against children against the law.

By Manya Koetse

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