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“Soft Drink Prostitution” – How Beverage Bottles on Cars are Used for Soliciting Sex Outside of Chinese Campuses

People looking for paid sex have found a creative way of letting others know. In the world of so-called “soft drink prostitution,” green tea services are cheaper than Red Bull ones.

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The topic of “soft drink prostitution” has been circulating on Chinese social media over the past few days. It is a phenomenon where parked cars outside of Chinese campuses will have beverages on their rooftops, signaling students that they are willing to pay for sex. Different drinks represent different prices.

Over the past few days, various Chinese media outlets have been reporting about a new phenomenon popping up at Chinese campuses dubbed “soft drink prostitution.”

Just as shoes dangling from trees or telephone wire in many countries are associated with places where people can buy drugs, putting a drink on the roof or hood of a parked car in China (preferably a BMW), would mean the driver is soliciting prostitution.

A pet bottle on a car roof means someone is looking for some (paid) action.

Many recent articles about this issue, however, have been taken offline over the past two days from news sites such as Sina.com or Sohu.com.

Is it a new urban myth or is ‘soft drink prostitution’ in fact happening? What’s on Weibo dug deeper to find out more about what this phenomenon entails.

 

Different drinks represent different prices.”

 

The recent coverage of the ‘soft drink prostitution’ phenomenon in Chinese media was first triggered by a notice on the official website of Tianjin Normal University on December 11, 2017, titled: “About the Disposal of ‘Rooftop Beverages’ on Cars From Outside the Campus” (“关于清理校园外来车辆“车顶放置饮料”的情况通报”).

Screenshot of the Dec 11 announcement on the Tianjin Normal University website about parked cars with beverage bottles on them.

The notice explained that since the beginning of the semester, campus security started noticing that parked cars outside the campus gates would have beverage bottles placed on their roofs or hoods with the purpose of “luring in female students to prostitute themselves,” and that “different drinks represent different prices.”

The notice also included a warning that it is illegal for people to perform sexual acts in return for money or goods, regardless of whether such transactions would occur between people of the same sex or opposite sex.

 

This does indeed happen in various places.

 

Around December 29, 18 days after the original announcement was allegedly placed, news of the Tianjin University phenomenon started spreading on social media in China.

On one message board, netizens questioned the veracity of the announcement, as it was nowhere to be found on the official website of the Tianjin Normal University.

I’ve attentively examined the website of the Tianjin Normal University,” one commenter wrote: “And this particular news was not on the site. On December 11, they did post two articles, but one was about bank card skimming and the other was about the illegal recruitment of students for training programs. Also, the font used in the screenshot and that used on the official website is not the same.”

Although the critical readers determined this must be a fake news item, there were others who said that even if it were fake news, “this [practice] does [indeed] happen in various places.”

 

It may lead to misunderstandings.

 

As rumors about the Chinese campuses “soft drink prostitution” kept circulating online, news sources such as Modern Express (现代快报) and The Paper first covered the issue on January 2, 2018.

According to the The Paper, the announcement was, in fact, true, but that it was taken offline by the University because it “may lead to misunderstandings” because of its “wording.”

On Weibo, some netizens said that the article was more of a “manual” for students to how the phenomenon works than an actual warning against it.

According to a spokesperson at the University, the announcement concerned “a normal procedure,” and was not meant to attract so much attention online.

The spokesperson compared such a warning to regular announcements about pickpockets, and emphasized that no students had entered the parked cars.

 

Green tea represents the offer to pay 300 yuan (±45$), whereas a can of Red Bull stands for 600 yuan (±90$).

 

So-called “soft drink prostitution” is actually not an entirely new phenomenon around Chinese campuses. Various other media outlets and reporters, such this vlogger called ‘SheCar’on Baidu TV or this online newspaper already reported about the issue in 2016, explaining the difference between drinks types.

A bottle of mineral water means 200 yuan (30$), green tea represents the offer to pay 300 yuan (±45$), for instance, whereas a can of Red Bull stands for 600 yuan (±90$).

During a days-long experiment in which a Baidu TV presenter parked the car outside of various universities in Hunan with a beverage bottle on the rooftop, it turned out that several students -some female and one male- actually did pick up the bottle and got into the car.

In 2016, Sina news explained that the parked cars outside of campuses are mostly BMW brands. If a person gets into the car that is not to the driver’s liking, they can just say “they are waiting for someone.”

On Weibo, some netizens are surprised that the rumors and alleged “fake news” announcement have turned out to be true: “I always thought this was just some sexual fantasy,” one person comments.

There are also people who say that now that this phenomenon is more widely covered, it actually “reveals what people want to hide” (“此地无银三百两”).

Other people also point out that the beverage bottle trick does not always work. As one commenter writes: “I saw this in front of my school once. But no one got into the car all day. Finally, a street sweeper took the drink from the car roof and drank it.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Memes & Viral

Shanghai Disney’s Crystal Castle Sold for RMB 1.8 Million

Shanghai Disney’s cherished object was sold off to the “dirty rich.”

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Who’d spend RMB 1.8 million on a small crystal Disney castle? For most Weibo commenters, it’s just a castle in the air.

Almost three years after Shanghai Disney first opened its doors, its sparkling ‘enchanted storybook’ crystal castle has now been sold for RMB 1.8 million ($276.500).

The minitiature bling bling castle has been an eyecatcher and a much-photographed object at the Disney resort.

Today, the hashtag “1.8 Million Shanghai Disney Crystal Castle Sold” (#迪士尼180万水晶城堡被买走#) went trending on Sina Weibo with some 180 million views, with many people wondering what kind of person would spend so much money on a decorative crystal castle.

According to a Weibo user, the castle was bought by a “tuhao” (土豪), Chinese slang for a “dirty rich” or extravagantly wealthy person (more info).

“Even if was RMB 180 [$27], I still wouldn’t be able to afford it,” a popular comment said.

“I went there just some days ago and was joking about whether someone would actually ever buy it – now it’s sold!”

“I’m happy I was still able to see it [before it was sold],” many commenters write, with hundreds of people sharing their own photos of the little castle. In 2017 alone, the park attracted 11 million visitors.

For the same price of the small crystal castle, the buyer could have visited the park 3706 times during high season (a peak season entrance ticket is priced at RMB 499/$75).

The display where the crystal palace was shined now shows a bronze statue of Frozen.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Memes & Viral

Meet China’s Latest Internet Celebrity: The “Vagrant Shanghai Professor” (上海流浪大师)

He is the latest online sensation in China, but what is this hype really about?

Gabi Verberg

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Over the past month, the popular short-video app Douyin flooded with videos of the so-called “Vagrant Shanghai Professor” (上海流浪大师), who has conquered the hearts of millions of Chinese netizens. His fans are determined to make the Shanghai drifter more famous, regardless of his own wishes.

It has been nine years since “Brother Sharp” (犀利哥), a homeless man from Ningbo, became an online hit in China for his fashionable and handsome appearance. Now, another homeless man, this time from Shanghai, has become an internet sensation for his poise, wisdom, and modesty.

‘Brother Sharp’ became an online hit in 2009 (image via Chinasmack).

It all started about three weeks ago when an online video of a homeless man who eloquently discusses literature and philosophy went viral on Chinese social media, receiving millions of views within a time span of just three days. The man was nicknamed the “Vagrant Shanghai Professor” (上海流浪大师).

Soon, more information about the man’s identity started making its rounds on the internet. The “Vagrant Professor” is named Shen Wei (沈巍), a 52-year-old who was born and raised in Shanghai. Shen reportedly once worked as a civil servant at the Shanghai’s Xuhui District Audit Bureau, before he took sick leave and started roaming the streets anonymously for more than twenty years.

Persistent rumors started circulating the internet, suggesting that Shen once graduated from the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai and that he became a vagrant after his wife and daughter had died in a car crash. Despite Shen himself repeatedly denying these claims, the rumors kept appearing in articles and on social media.

Whether he likes it or not, Shen’s quiet days of reading books and collecting garbage are now seemingly over. Within a few days after the first video of Shen went viral, hundreds of people began searching for him near Shanghai’s Gaoke West Road, the place where he usually stays, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ‘Vagrant Professor’ and take a selfie with him.

Hundreds of photos and videos of Chen started flooding the internet, all showing the same image: Shen surrounded by people, holding their phones in his face.

Shen became a true social media phenomenon, even receiving attention outside of China, with both BBC and Washington Post reporting about this man’s sudden rise to fame.

For Shen, his online celebrity status has come at a price. When the crowds became too big, the Shanghai police had to intervene and escort him out of his shelter. While the police were trying to bring Shen to safety, people were still taking his picture and tried touching him. One woman even held up a cardboard sign saying: “Vagrant Professor, I want to marry you.”

Over the past week, Shen hasn’t been seen out in public. Some recent photos of Chen show that he had an apparent makeover when attending a class reunion that was specially organized for him by his former classmates.

As the hype around the ‘Vagrant Professor’ is slowly quieting down, more critical responses to Chen’s sudden fame are surfacing on Chinese social media, asking who this hype really is about in the end.

Many netizens question the invasion of Chen’s privacy, saying that this craze was not so much about Chen himself but more about people’s needs for a dramatic and touching story, and social media users’ greed for more clicks and likes for themselves through Chen. These so-called “like hunters” will try to get as many ‘likes’ as possible to make them feel good about themselves.

Commenters also point out that if it would have been about Chen himself, his ‘fans’ should have left him alone as he requested. Instead, they disrupted his life so drastically that he had to leave the streets he once called home.

On Weibo, one person wrote: “This is how I see it: all these people who took his photo are the real beggars, begging for likes.”

Other people wrote: “Society has gone mad,” and: “Even if you don’t want to be famous, they will just make you famous.”

The fashionable beggar ‘Brother Sharp’ who rose to fame in 2009 initially benefited from his overnight stardom. He received help from social workers, but once he looked like a ‘regular person’ again, people lost interest in him.

Brother Sharp after his makeover.

According to a recent media report, ‘Brother Sharp’ has, again, lost contact with his family and might be back on the street, anonymous this time. Perhaps the story of the ‘Vagrant Professor’ will see a similar ending once the hype has blown over.

By Gabi Verberg, edited by Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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