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More than 140 Feared Buried by Massive Landslide in Maoxian Sichuan

The collapse of a mountain side in the area of Maoxian county in Sichuan has buried homes and people, in what is the most serious landslide the area has seen since the Wenchuan earthquake. At least 141 people are missing and feared buried.

Manya Koetse



The collapse of a mountain side in the area of Maoxian county in Sichuan has buried homes and people, in what is the most serious landslide the area has seen since the Wenchuan earthquake. At least 141 people are missing and feared to be buried under the debris.

Heavy rains have triggered a landslide in Xinmo village, Maoxian county (茂县), in southwest China’s Sichuan province. The slide of the mountain occurred around 06.00 in the morning local time on June 24. Rescue teams are searching for people, as more than 140 people are feared to be buried alive under the rubble.

The mountain slide has swallowed at least 46 houses in the village of Xinmo, a scenic area that attracts many visitors. According to Wang Yongbo, a local rescue official, an estimated 105 million cubic feet of earth and rock had slid down the mountain, which is comparable to 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

More information / updates will be added to blog below (now closed).

Xinmo Village: 46 Homes Buried in Landslide

On Weibo, one news blogger posted this before and after picture of the new housing area in Xinmo village. After today’s disastrous landslide, this side of the village is buried in rubble. A total of 46 homes in Xinmo were destroyed by boulders after the side of the mountain collapsed.

One Family Rescued, One Child Still in the House

A couple and their baby were rescued from the rubble on Saturday, and have been taken to the Maoxian People’s Hospital (茂县人民医院). None have life-threatening injuries. According to Xinhua News, another child of the family remains buried in house.

Unknown Number of Tourists in the Area

Around 100 tourists are believed to be trapped in the affected area after the disastrous landslide. An estimated 100 persons entered the scenic Maoxian area yesterday. But authorities cannot confirm the exact number of people who left the area and came to the area, because important equipment holding traffic data has been damaged in the landslide, according to Henan News on Weibo.

Weibo Netizens Share Their Concerns

On Sina Weibo, the Maoxian landslide disaster has become a top trending topic. Thousands of netizens express their sympathy and share their concerns for the people in the area.

A video posted by CCTV on Weibo, was shared over 4800 times within a few hours. “I truly hope there will not be many victims,” one netizen says. “I just hope everyone will be safe and sound,” many people write #四川阿坝山体垮塌#.

“Don’t Come to the Area”

Several news bloggers on Weibo warn people not to come to the area to help out, since roads have been damaged and many places are inaccessible. Writer Wong Pok says: “Rescue teams have come from Chongqing, Sichuan. In times of these kind of great catastrophes, we trust in our government.”

He also warned people not to share fake news, as many netizens shared a video that shows a landslide and screaming people. That footage is not from today’s landslide in Maoxian, but from a landslide in Kaihua, Quzhou, in 2014.

Ten Hours After the Landslide

Approximately ten hours after the massive landslide, rescuers are still hunting rocks and debris for survivors. According to the latest news, still more than 120 people are missing, and 62 homes have been buried by the rocks and earth.

The sole people rescued thus far are 3 people of a family; a couple and their baby. Their other child, believed to still be buried in the house, has not yet been found.

A search and rescue team expert told People’s Daily that the probability of still finding survivors in the debris is “very low.”

By Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of 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 Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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Weibo Watch: Doing Homework at the Hospital

Much lies behind the image of Chinese kids doing their homework in hospitals. We discuss that powerful image, the latest film about Zhang Guimei, the Three Subject Dance, and the Weibo hashtags to know.





This week’s newsletter:
◼︎ 1. Editor’s Note – Homework at hospitals
◼︎ 2. What’s Featured – A closer look at the featured stories
◼︎ 3. What More to Know – Highlighting 8 hot topics
◼︎ 4. What Lies Behind – Observations beyond the headlines, by Miranda Barnes
◼︎ 5. What’s Noteworthy – Much ado about fried eggs
◼︎ 6. What’s Popular – Shaoxing opera draws in a new kind of audience
◼︎ 7. What’s Memorable – One year since the ‘White Paper Protests’
◼︎ 8. Weibo Word of the Week – “Subject Three Dance”, a viral hit


Dear Reader,


‘What is this mysterious illness coming from China?’ ‘I heard Chinese hospitals are filled with kids?’ ‘Are face masks mandatory again?’ ‘Is the Health Code coming back?’ Over the past two weeks, while I was lying in bed with a fever of 39 degrees, I received numerous messages from non-Chinese friends expressing concern about images circulating online showing parents and their sick kids lining up in Chinese hospitals. For some, these scenes evoked memories of the early days of the pandemic and worries about an unknown virus.

While attracting global attention, the recent surge in China’s respiratory illnesses even prompted the World Health Organization to request more information from China about the clusters of pneumonia in children. Chinese health authorities reported no detection of unusual or novel pathogens. This current wave, occurring as China enters its first full winter season since the end of its ‘zero Covid’ restrictions, appears to be a mix of Mycoplasma infections, influenza, Covid-19, Norovirus, and Adenovirus. Coughs, colds, and fevers are notably affecting school-aged children.

A particular image that went viral recently showed Chinese school children doing homework while hooked up to an IV in the hospital. To some on the X platform, the image seemed so bizarre that they questioned its authenticity, suggesting it was fake or AI-generated. The English-language state media outlet SHINE (Shanghai Daily) clarified in one of its recent articles that the image was, in fact, real, and that study areas at some hospital infusion centers have been around since at least 2019.

However, that particular article, titled “AI-generated? Photo of Chinese students doing homework in hospital stirs X debate” was later taken offline and now leads to a 404 page.

Perhaps the disappearance of the article reflects the discomfort surrounding the scenes of Chinese schoolkids doing homework at hospitals. For many, seeing children in hospitals is already disheartening, but the sight of them doing homework in that setting –gasp– is the most dreadful thing they can imagine while also feeding into prejudiced ideas some foreigners may hold about life in China.

One thing I noticed about those messages I received about the images and videos depicting the surge in respiratory illnesses in China is that many people, especially those speaking from a European perspective, assume that children receiving IV fluids at the hospital must be seriously ill. The idea of letting such children do their homework is simply inconceivable.

In reality, it doesn’t necessarily take much to receive IV fluids in many Chinese hospitals or clinics. Unfortunately, part of China’s healthcare culture involves a profit-driven approach that can lead to over-prescriptions, excessive antibiotic use, unnecessary admissions, and the administration of intravenous fluids. Coupled with patients’ preference for hospital-based services and widespread expectations that IV infusions will make them feel better and speed up recovery, it’s not surprising that the practice of administering IV therapy has become routine among Chinese patients, even when their symptoms are mild.

Despite the prevalence of IV use and the many concerned parents who (partly also due to a lack in General Practictioners) are quick to take their sick kids to hospitals and clinics, the image and news articles of children doing their homework in hospitals also triggered discussions on Chinese social media.

The main point of discussion was not that the kids were too ill to do their homework nor that it was bizarre (many people actually praised local hospitals for setting up special study corners); the main focus was how these images embodied the concept of nèijuǎn 内卷, “involution.”

This buzzword has been generating discussions on Chinese social media for years now, and represents the competitive circumstances in academic or professional settings in China where individuals are compelled to overwork because of the standard raised by their peers who appear to be even more hardworking. One popular slogan used by a Chinese cram school showed that this societal rat-race already starts at a very young age: “If you come to us, we will train your kids, if you don’t come to us, we will train the competitors of your kids.”

Chinese clinics and hospitals offering special study rooms or homework corners for kids are actually also part of this ‘rat race.’ One hospital in Nantong, Jiangsu, recently opened up its brand-new study corner in the IV area (输液区一角“学习区”). A spokesperson argued that the hospital does not encourage parents to let their sick kids do homework at the hospital while hooked onto an IV. Still, without such spaces, kids would end up doing homework on floors and in dimly-lit hallways, creating a messy situation and making them even more uncomfortable.

Similarly, schools in Beijing have clarified that students who are ill are not required to finish their homework. Parents have also voiced their opinions, saying they don’t want their kids to do school work when they are ill, but the pressure is simply too much to avoid it.

Much lies behind the image of Chinese kids doing their homework at a hospital, but there’s also a lesson in how quickly people jump to conclusions without understanding the context. While that powerful image is interpreted differently in various contexts, one thing most people seem to agree on is that it’s never a bad idea to take things slow when feeling ill, especially for kids who could use a break.

As I pour myself another hot water with honey and ginger, I hope you also take care of your health during this cold and flu season and remember to take a pause from the everyday rat race, no matter your age or location.



A closer look at the top stories

1: The Challenges of an Ordinary Chinese Couple | Two years after they first started sharing their story on Chinese social media, millions of netizens are engrossed in the struggles of the Chinese young parents Li Jun and Liang Liang, whose journey of starting a family and buying an apartment in the city at a time of economic downturn turned into an emotional rollercoaster.

Read more

2: Overwhelming Success of a Haidian Food Vendor | A Beijing food vendor, affectionately known as ‘Auntie Goose Legs,’ has become a viral sensation after becoming super popular among the city’s student community. However, this beloved ‘auntie’ has caused quite a commotion recently after relocating her stall, triggering debates among local students over which university she truly ‘belongs’ to.

Read more

3: Hu Xijin and Others Discuss Dutch Politics | The Dutch general elections on Tuesday, November 2022, resulted in a victory for the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV). The party, established in 2006, is led by the 60-year-old Dutch politician Geert Wilders who is known for his outspoken populist rhetoric and anti-establishment sentiments. On Chinese social media, the Dutch election outcome became a topic discussed by some well-known bloggers.

Read more

4: Hospitals Flooded during Wave of ‘Flu’ Cases | Recent discussions on Chinese social media platforms have highlighted a notable surge in flu cases. The ongoing flu season is particularly impacting children, with multiple viruses concurrently circulating and contributing to a high incidence of respiratory infections. Among the prevalent respiratory infections affecting children are Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections, influenza, and Adenovirus infection. The spike in flu cases has resulted in overcrowded children’s hospitals in Beijing and other Chinese cities. Parents sometimes have to wait in line for hours to get an appointment or pick up medication.

Read more


What More to Know

Highlighting 8 hot topics

◼︎ 1. “OLD FRIEND OF CHINA” KISSINGER DIES AGED 100 | The death of the 100-year-old Henry Kissinger made international headlines this week. In China, the former US Secretary of State is mostly remembered as “an old friend” of the country. His lifelong connection to China started in 1971, when he traveled to Beijing for a private meeting with Premier Zhou Enlai to plan the details of the significant and groundbreaking visit by President Nixon, which eventually took place in February 1972. Kissinger would eventually visit China over a 100 times, even after his retirement. His last visit to China took place in July of 2023, when he attended a meeting with President Xi Jinping. This week, Xi sent a condolence message to President Biden and extended sincere condolences to Kissinger’s family. Kissinger’s book On China is still a much-read classic in China.

Besides grieving over the death of Kissinger, Chinese netizens also mourned the loss of another American this week, namely Charlie Munger. The legendary investor, who had many fans in China, died at the age of 99. (Weibo hashtag “Kissinger Passes Away” #基辛格逝世#, 680 million views).

◼︎ 2. GETTING FINED IN SICHUAN’S PUGE | In November, the leaders of a village in Puge, a county in southern Sichuan Province, sparked heated debates by introducing new regulations. According to these rules, local residents could potentially face fines for maintaining a ‘dirty and disordered’ (‘脏乱差’) living environment. Examples of offenses include leaving spider webs in the home, having an untidy bed, or neglecting to do the dishes. The fines range from 3 yuan to 30 yuan ($0.42-$4.20). While some commenters believe that these regulations reflect the village’s attempt to promote cleanliness and order, an online poll revealed that the majority of respondents disagree with the idea of local village leaders imposing fines for personal messiness. (Weibo hastag “Place in Sichuan Gives 10 Yuan Fine for Not Folding Blanket” #四川一地规定不叠被子罚10元#, 140 million views).

◼︎ 3. VISA-FREE CHINA TRAVEL FOR 5 EU COUNTRIES + MALAYSIA | On November 24, China’s Foreign Ministry announced that, starting from December 1st 2023, individuals holding ordinary passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia can enjoy visa-free entry to China for business, tourism, family visits, and transit, as long as their stay does not exceed 15 days. This initiative, which aligns with China’s broader efforts to boost tourism and promote international exchanges, will continue until November 30, 2024. On Weibo, many netizens expressed disappointment that the visa-free travel regulation was unilateral; Chinese travelers still need a visa to enter these countries. (Weibo hashtag “China Tries Out Visa-Free Policy for France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Malaysia” #中方将对法德意荷西马六国试行免签政策#, 110 million views.)

◼︎ 4. CIVIL SERVANTS EXAMS | The yearly national public servant exams in China began last Sunday. With over 3 million candidates, this year marks a historically high number of candidates who are vying for the available 39,600 job openings in central government agencies and affiliated institutions – twice the amount of positions that were available in 2019. (Weibo hashtag “Average of 77 People Competing for One Position for 2024 National Exam” #2024国考平均约77人竞争一岗位#, 34 million views).

◼︎ 5. PINDUODUO’S 11-11-6 WORK SCHEDULE | As news circulated on November 29 that Pinduoduo, the Chinese online retailer, was on the verge of surpassing Alibaba as China’s most valuable e-commerce firm (spoiler: Alibaba remained the largest by day’s end), discussions about the company’s demanding work schedule gained traction on Weibo. According to insiders, employees are required to follow an “11-11-6” work system: start work at 11:00 a.m., get off at 11:00 p.m., and work six days a week. Sometimes they allegedly also work overtime until the early hours of the morning, making 70-hour work weeks. The harsh work culture at Pinduoduo already triggered national debates in 2021 after the sudden death of a 22-year-old female employee. (Weibo hashtag “Pinduoduo Work System” ##拼多多 工作制##, 50.9 million views).

◼︎ 6. COTTI COFFEE GOES TEA CAT | Cotti Coffee (库迪咖啡), founded by Charles Lu and Jenny Qian, former Luckin Coffee executives who departed in 2020, has expanded to over 5,000 locations across more than 300 cities in five countries. The brand gained attention last week with the announcement of its entry into the tea market. Starting from January 2024, Cotti is set to unveil its Milk Tea brand “Tea Cat” (茶猫), which is now in its pilot store testing phase. Given Cotti’s remarkable growth over the past 2 years, we can anticipate a surge in the number of ‘Tea Cat’ outlets in Chinese cities in the near future. (Weibo hashtag “Cotti Coffee Marches into the Tea [Industry]” #库迪咖啡进军奶茶#, 42,5 million views).

◼︎ 7. CHINESE BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN REUNITED WITH SON | On December 1st, Jie Kefeng (解克锋), a wealthy Chinese entrepreneur from Hebei who had offered a million yuan reward to find his missing son, Jie Qingshuai (解清帅), finally reunited with him after 25 years. Jie Kefeng and his wife held a thank-you banquet on December 2nd, which attracted considerable attention online. Jie Qingshuai, the couple’s second son, was abducted in 1998 when his mother left him at home to run a quick errand. The couple never gave up on finding their son and finally, through the help of anti-child trafficking authorities and technology, they found their son, who was sold by human traffickers as a child. The people responsible for his kidnapping have since been arrested. (Weibo hashtag: “Billionaire Family Throws 26th Birthday Party for Abducted Son” #亿万富翁全家为被拐儿子补过26岁生日#, 32.2 million views).

◼︎ 8. YANG MING’S LOVE STRUGGLES | The renowned Chinese basketball player and head coach of the Liaoning Flying Leopards, Yang Ming (杨鸣), took center stage on Chinese social media this week due to rumors about his divorce from his wife Tang Jialiang, with whom he has two children. Despite Yang Ming being a prominent figure in the sports realm rather than in the Chinese entertainment circle, the private aspects of his life, particularly his romantic relationships, continue to captivate netizens who have been following the gossip surrounding the handsome coach for years. This heightened interest is fueled by past speculations of Yang Ming being involved with a female college student. His current romantic interest supposedly is a 45-year-old music teacher. (Weibo hashtag “Exposed: Yang Ming Divorced” ##杨鸣被曝离婚##, 430 million views).


What Lies Behind

Observations beyond the headlines, by Miranda

Discussions over ‘True Feminism’

Beyond the Clouds (我本是高山) is a biographical film that premiered in China on November 24. Directed by Zheng Dasheng (郑大圣) and Yang Jin (杨锦), the film portrays the life of Zhang Guimei (张桂梅, 1957), a nationally renowned female principal who manages a girls’ school in the impoverished Huaping County, Lijiang, Yunnan province.

As a teacher in Huaping County, Zhang noticed many girls dropping out of school, forced into marriage or work. In many underprivileged areas of China, where sons are often favored over daughters, girls’ education takes a hit when finances are tight. Driven by her commitment to the higher Communist cause and the belief in the pivotal role of female education in shaping the nation’s future, Zhang established the first free girls’ school in China in 2008 with the help of donations. Over the past 15 years, this school has sent over 2000 girls to universities, setting them on diverse career paths.

Over the past decade, Zhang Guimei’s selfless work has been praised by the people and recognised by the authorities. In 2021, she even received a medal from Xi Jinping for her lifelong dedication to girls’ education in rural China, precisely where women’s emancipation is most crucial. Despite her popularity as a feminist championing girls’ education in China, the film has faced criticism for distorting elements of her story.

For instance, the film portrayed Zhang’s motivation to sustain the school as a personal response to mourning her husband’s early death. Feminist supporters of Zhang argue that this narrative transforms her commitment to a higher cause into a personal and romantic motive: ‘Can’t she just be doing this because she believes in the importance of female power? Why does everything have to be motivated by a man?’ they challenged.

Another point of discussion is how the film portrays female students skipping school to go shopping or hang out at internet cafes. Many commenters argued that this is far from the reality, “do you know how much these girls value their opportunity to continue school? Why do you portray them like that?” Another reason why some argued the movie was actually not supporting the feminist cause is how it changed a real story relating to an abusive alcoholic father into one about an alcoholic mother instead. Outraged, some fans of Zhang’s work see these kinds of seemingly trivial changes as an attack on Chinese women, going against the nature of Zhang’s lifework.

Although Chinese state media is promoting Beyond the Clouds through online platforms and news articles, the voices criticizing the adaptation will not be silenced. While official channels mostly emphasize how Zhang is a true communist, many of her fans mostly see her as a true feminist – and they vehemently resist any attempts to frame Zhang or her story within a patriarchal narrative.


What’s Noteworthy

Small news with big impact

Much Ado About Fried Eggs

Mao Anying, Chinese military officer and the son of Mao Zedong, died on November 25 in 1950. Every year, there are some sensitivities surrounding this date because of fried egg rice. One part of Mao Anying’s death that has become an ongoing, urban-legend-kind-of online story is that he supposedly disobeyed army rules and cooked egg fried rice at the Chinese headquarters in the North Korean battlefield. The smoke of the fire supposedly alerted the enemy and led to the bombing in which he would lose his life. The anniversary of Mao Anying’s death has therefore come to be mocked and celebrated by some netizens as “Egg Fried Rice Day” (蛋炒饭节) or “Chinese Thanksgiving” (中国感恩节), since it’s close to the American Thanksgiving.

A few years ago, the sensitive nature of this meme became clear when Chinese celebrity chef Wang Gang (王刚), with many social media followers, uploaded a video on how to prepare Yangzhou-style fried rice. As described by Dennis E. Yi (2020), the chef was accused of “humiliating China” due to the alleged – and perhaps unintentional – connection to Mao Anying.

This year, Wang Gang once again found himself apologizing for sharing an egg fried rice tutorial around the anniversary of Mao Anying’s death, sparking allegations of disrespect towards Mao Zedong’s son. As this marked the third instance of Wang Gang facing backlash over fried rice, he has now pledged to refrain from making egg fried rice in the future (“作为厨子,以后再也不做炒饭”). Relevant hashtag pages have since been removed from Weibo.

If you want to know more about a renewed focus on Mao Anying in Chinese online media, where official voices communicate why – and in which way – Mao Anying needs to be remembered by the Chinese people, do read this feature article we published in 2022.

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The latest buzz in arts & pop culture, by Ruixin

Why Shaoxing Opera is Popular Among Chinese Youth

Yue opera (越剧), also known as Shaoxing opera, is a Chinese opera genre that originated in Zhejiang Province and is particularly popular in Shanghai. Although Chinese opera is generally mostly loved by China’s older generations, new adaptations of classic plays or films featuring a fresh generation of opera performers have now also generated a buzz among China’s younger audiences.

Recently, it’s Yue opera New Dragon Gate Inn (新龙门客栈) that has gone viral, featuring six actresses (they also play the roles of men) of the Zhejiang Xiaobaihua (小百花) troupe. The play is actually an adaptation of the 1992 martial arts film. One actress in particular has become popular online for her cross-gender acting (女扮男装), namely Chen Lijun (陈丽君), who plays the role of Jia Ting. She joined the Xiaobaihua troupe in 2013, right after her graduation.

The online succes of this show (and other ones, including Butterfly Lovers 梁祝) and their performers has led to a run on opera tickets and has cultivated a new kind of theater audience. New Dragon Gate Inn is performed at the Butterfly studio theater in Hangzhou (杭州蝴蝶剧场) and uses immersive theater styles to break away from traditional forms of opera performance. If you want to grab a ticket, you’ll have to really try since you’ll join thousands of others who are eagerly waiting to attend one of the shows in real life.


What’s Memorable

Best reads from the archive

One Year Since White Paper Protests

Exactly one year ago, news of protest movements popping up in various cities across China went buzzing around the internet. After enduring months of stringent Covid measures, students in Nanjing and Xi’an gathered around campus and held up blank paper sheets in protest of censorship. Their white papers said what could not be expressed, and so the movement was soon dubbed the “white paper protest” or the “A4 Revolution.”

Unrest and protests happened from Urumqi to Nanjing, from Beijing to Shanghai. People sang the ‘Farewell’ song (送别) to commemorate those who died in the tragic 11.24 Urumqi fire and who spent the last 100 days of their lives in lockdown. Online, people used various hashtags and posted clips of ‘Do you Hear the People Sing’ from Les Misérables.

But while news of the protests made global headlines, the terms “outside forces” or “external forces” (外部势力) increasingly popped up in Chinese social media discussions. Boosted by nationalistic bloggers, the idea that foreign forces were meddling in China’s affairs became more prevalent as a way to explain the sudden wave of protests . Read more in this newsletter’s pick from our archive below.

Read more


Weibo Word of the Week

The catchword to know

“Subject Three” | Our Weibo Word of the Week is “Subject Three” (kē mù sān 科目三).

Recently, ‘Subject Three’ has become a buzzword on Chinese social media in connection with a viral dance, the Subject Three Dance (科目三舞蹈). From Douyin to Bilibili, the dance is super popular online and is performed by various people, from online influencers to virtual vloggers. The dance has become especially big since the renowned Chinese hotpot chain, Haidilao, allowed its staff to perform this viral dance for diners upon request, leading to amusing and occasionally awkward situations. On November 28, one customer even turned violent when he found the Subject Three performance at a local Huai’an restaurant too noisy and annoying.

The term ‘Subject Three’ allegedly first gained traction in 2022 or early 2023 following a video showcasing the jubilant atmosphere of a Guangxi wedding. Subsequently, ‘Guangxi Subject Three’ (广西科目三) became a popular reference, originating from a humorous joke. Although traditionally associated with the third part of a driver’s license exam, people playfully suggested that Guangxi locals undergo three significant “exams” in their lifetime: one for singing folk songs, one for mastering the art of slurping rice noodles, and the third for dancing (“广西人一生中会经历三场考试,科目一唱山歌,科目二嗦米粉,科目三跳舞”).

By now, the dance has transcended its original context of Guangxi weddings and Haidilao staff dances, as it’s turned into a true social media hype where people create and share videos of themselves and others performing the Subject Three Dance, which is characterized by playful and exaggerated movements accompanied by the background music of “江湖一笑” (Jianghu Smile), making it entertaining, humorous, and, most of all, meme-worthy.

This is an on-site version of the Weibo Watch newsletter by What’s on Weibo. Missed last week’s newsletter? Find it here. If you are already subscribed to What’s on Weibo but are not yet receiving this newsletter in your inbox, please contact us directly to let us know.

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China Memes & Viral

‘Auntie Goose Legs’ Goes Viral after Becoming Sensation in Beijing’s Student Scene

She has become all the rage in Beijing’s student district, but Auntie Goose Legs just wants to run her roasted goose leg stall in peace.

Manya Koetse



A Beijing food vendor, affectionately known as ‘Auntie Goose Legs,’ has become a viral sensation after becoming super popular among the city’s student community. However, this beloved ‘auntie’ has caused quite a commotion recently after relocating her stall, triggering debates among local students over which university she truly ‘belongs’ to.

This winter, students at Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Renmin University are all craving hot, roasted goose legs. This snack has gained quite the reputation in the Beijing’s Haidian District, where ‘Auntie Goose Legs’ has been selling her food near the dorms and entrances of the various local universities.

The food vendor, who is known for wearing a pink helmet, initially sold her goose legs near the entrances of Peking University and Renmin University, not too far from Haidian South Street. All went well for years. She would let students know when she would be setting up her stall near what entrance, and the neighbourhood kids could come and enjoy her roasted goose legs.

Although her business was doing well, Auntie Goose Legs still found it necessary to remind students she was coming and promoted her goose legs through WeChat to ensure sufficient sales.

Then, one day, Auntie made a sudden decision to relocate further north, near the entrance of Tsinghua University. This move stirred conversations in many Beijing students’ WeChat groups.

While the Peking University student community mourned the loss of convenient access to their beloved goose legs, the Tsinghua crowd welcomed Auntie with enthusiasm. Besides eagerly buying her goose legs, they went a step further by assisting her in professionalizing her business, setting up special Goose Legs WeChat groups, and implementing online queuing and payment systems.

Popular meme showing a neglected ‘Beida’ (Peking University) on the left, while mother ‘Auntie Goose Leg’ is playing with Tsinghua.

As reported by WeChat account Meishaonv023 (美少女挖掘机), the students at Peking University pleaded for the return of their beloved Auntie. Meanwhile, concerns arose among Tsinghua students, as the Auntie’s skyrocketing popularity made it increasingly challenging to secure their goose leg snacks. Perhaps their campaign to promote her business had become a little bit too successful?

Long lines for auntie’s goose legs.

Where is Auntie Goose Legs?

According to Meishaonv023, Auntie Goose Legs has become so famous locally that among Beijing’s university students and in Wudaokou circles (Wudaokou is the famous student hub in Beijing’s Haidian), there are now only two groups: those who have tasted her goose legs and those who have not.

Roasted goose, with is deep flavor and golden skin, is a dish that is commonly enjoyed in various international cuisines, especially during winter seasons. According to some people who have tasted the Beijing food vendor’s goose legs, they are the perfect mix of juicy and tender, sweet and spicy.

Amidst the hype surrounding the goose leg food stall, Auntie decided to raise her prices by 1 yuan, increasing from 15 yuan ($2.12) per goose leg to 16 yuan ($2.26). Unexpectedly, some people also decided to make some extra money by becoming ‘Goose Leg scalpers’ and adding another 2 yuan to the price of one goose leg when reselling it to other students.

Auntie Goose Legs, wearing her pink helmet, surrounded by students.

And there were more developments in the Auntie Goose Legs saga. When she decided to announce that she would no longer set up her stall at Tsinghua on Sundays, the students argued that she then should not set up her stall anywhere else on that day, either. If they can’t have goose legs on Sundays, then the Peking Uni students certainly shouldn’t have goose legs on Sunday either?

Then, the canteen manager at Renmin University suddenly made a surprising move on November 27 and introduced roasted goose legs in the university’s canteen, selling them for just 15 yuan. Some people, however, argued that they lacked the ‘soul’ of Auntie’s food. Meanwhile, the people at the nearby Forestry University also showed their interest in joining the Goose Leg battlefield.

One of the reasons why this story has blown up on Chinese social media is because the universities involved are among the most prestigious of the entire country. It strikes people as amusing that instead of focusing on applied mathematical problems, these top academics are actually engaged in bickering over roasted goose legs.

As the success of her business blew up, Auntie Goose Legs, seemingly overwhelmed, announced that she was going to take a short break from her food stall on November 28, writing: “It’s all too messy now.” One day later, she seemed emotional in a Douyin video, in which she said she felt too much pressure because of how the situation was unfolding, and that she just wanted to sell her goose legs in peace (“只想平平安安做烧烤”).

Auntie Goose Legs said she was overwhelmed in a video posted on November 29.

Her story shares some resemblance to that of the duck head seller in Zibo (鸭头, duck head, is a Chinese snack). Earlier this year, when the Shandong town of Zibo became all the rage, a local duck head seller became an online sensation after a video showing how a female tourist touched his muscles went viral overnight. What do you do when you suddenly see 180,000 visitors a day passing by your small duck’s head shop?

The duck head seller in Zibo.

Although his hit status initially boosted sales, the crowds of people coming to his shop soon became so overwhelming that he could no longer run his business as usual. As some even started harassing and physically assaulting him, he could no longer do his work and had to temporarily close his shop. In a live stream, he tearfully talked about how his business, ironically, was facing difficulties due to his viral success.

“It’s not always good to go viral like this,” one Weibo commenter wrote about Auntie Goose Legs. “If she wants some peace, just let her.” While many share the sentiment, suggesting that the food vendor deserves a break after becoming a local sensation, others just want to try out her food. One thing is certain; goose legs are the trending snack for this Beijing winter.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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