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Story of Shanghai Bund “Attack by Muslim Man” Triggers Online Furor in China

A personal story on Weibo about an altercation with a Muslim man on the Bund in Shanghai has stirred wide debate.

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A personal story by a Weibo netizen about an altercation with a Muslim man on the Bund in Shanghai has stirred wide debate on Chinese social media. The case has evoked both anti-Islamic sentiments and anger about censorship in the name of ‘ethnic unity.’

The account of a female Weibo user nicknamed ‘Ningsuk’ sparked a storm of debate over the past few days after the woman explained in detail how she was allegedly harassed by a Muslim man in Shanghai on the night of September 14th.

On her Weibo account, the woman wrote that she was “attacked by a Middle Eastern-looking Muslim man” and that the man also told her he was an Arab Muslim.

The incident caused a wave of online anger for various reasons. At first, her story mainly triggered anti-Islamic sentiment. When ‘Ningsuk’ later wrote on Weibo that her posts about the incident had been deleted for “undermining ethnic unity,” netizens were outraged about the alleged censorship of the story.

 

NINGSUK’S ACCOUNT

“He told me that there are many Arabs/Muslims in this area, and that they are all united.”

 

On the evening of September 15, Ningsuk wrote her initial long account on Weibo of the incident that happened on Thursday night.

The original post on Weibo

In her account, she writes that she arrived in Shanghai to meet her friend on Thursday after taking the train from Beijing. Since her friend was not able to meet her at the train station, they had agreed to meet later at the Starbucks on the Bund, where ‘Ningsuk’ arrived at 8.00 pm.

As ‘Ningsuk’ was having a coffee in the outside seating area, she writes that “a man with an Arabic appearance” asked her if the seat next to her was taken, joined her at the table, and started talking to her in Mandarin, asking if she was alone. “I told him I was waiting for my boyfriend,” the woman writes.

The woman then describes how the man took on a threatening tone: “He told me that there are many Arabs/Muslims in this area and that they are all united, unlike Chinese who just mind their own business. He said that with one phone call, he could have many people come over.”

Because ‘Ningsuk’ was meeting her friend there, had all her luggage with her, and her phone was almost out of battery, she did not want the situation to escalate, she writes. As he the man spoke to her about his “many friends,” she tried to reach her friend and told her to hurry.

When the man pulled his chair towards the woman and cornered her, saying “he did not have bad intentions,” and put his hands on her shoulder for “taking a picture,” she got up and ran into the Starbucks.

She writes: “He followed me inside [the shop] and forcefully grabbed me and pulled me to the corner. At this point, I started to shake and he continued to say that there were many (Muslim) people in the area that he could call over with one phone call.”

When the man then grabbed her and tried to pull out of the Starbucks, she ran behind the cashier’s desk and asked the staff for help. The man left the store, she writes, but waited for her outside and came back in at one time and attempted to slap the woman before the Starbuck’s manager stepped in and made him leave again.

After the woman’s friend arrived, the two women were threatened by the man once more outside the store before finally leaving together.

 

ONLINE ANGER OVER CENSORSHIP

“I should not cause racial tensions – the police contacted me.”

 

Ningsuk’s post received thousands of comments and over 30,000 shares. Many people responded with indignation, with some saying: “This is how it starts (..) we as Han Chinese have no feeling of safety (..).”

Triggering so many reactions, Ningsuk’s story was deleted not long after its initial publication.

The deletion also stirred much anger on Weibo, where many netizens suggested the post was only shut down because it involved a Muslim man and that personal safety issues matter more than ethnical sensitivities.

The woman ‘Ningsuk’ later posted: “I should not cause racial tensions – the police contacted me. I’m safe now, the original post has been deleted.”

Photo posted by ‘Ningsuk.’

She also confirmed to her followers that local authorities had reached out to her, that she met with them and that they were investigating the case. She also said that people were banned from commenting on any of her posts regarding this story.

 

SUSPECT ARRESTED

“I am very, very shocked that it turns out he is actually a Chinese person.”

 

On September 16, Shanghai police released a statement that they had detained a 23-year-old man for “repeatedly harassing [the] girl after he was drunk on Thursday.” According to the woman, the police stated the suspect was a Muslim of Chinese nationality.

She wrote: “They got him. The police let me see the person’s identity card and name. I am also very, very shocked that it turns out he is actually a Chinese person from a certain region. I asked the police whether or not he admitted that he had said he was an Arabic man and the police told me he admitted this, and that he says he talked big talk because he had too much to drink [that night]. They also have verified that he is a Muslim.

Within 24 hours, her last post was also shared over 26000 times.

Many netizens commented that they were happy the police arrested the suspect, but that it still did not validate the censorship of the woman’s story. There are also people who praise the woman for “having the courage” to put her story online despite its sensitivity.

“A girl is harassed by a Muslim man in a public place. Then all she does is she goes home and writes about it on Weibo. Then the relevant departments are directly on the phone and warn her not to destroy national unity, and then the police take her to ‘drink tea’ and then the post is completely deleted. This whole issue is not a mystery,” one person responded.

 

STATE MEDIA RESPONDS

“The online sentiments are complicated, and most internet users are convinced that the reason the woman’s post was deleted is because she said her harasser was Muslim.”

 

On Monday, Chinese state tabloid Global Times responded to the issue through its ‘opinion column’ by Shan Renping (单仁平), saying that it is only the woman who confirmed the man was indeed Muslim and that the police gave no official statement about his background.

“The online sentiments are complicated, and most internet users are convinced that the reason the woman’s post was deleted is because she said her harasser was Muslim. They are also unhappy with the fact the police did not [publicly] reveal the identity of the suspect.”

The column stresses that the Chinese state will prosecute everybody equally based on their crime and not their race, ethnicity or religion: “No matter who breaks the law (..) it does not matter what race or religion they are, the officials will always handle it according to law without any hesitation.”

It also said that officials always hide religious and/or ethnical identities of people involved in crime reports to “maintain national and religious harmony.” Although there might be negative consequences to this policy, the article says, the “other negative consequences”- if they do report all suspect backgrounds – “will be even worse.”

The article said that “some people are prejudiced about the measures taken by the State to protect Muslims, as they think it is unfair. We should take their ideas seriously.” It argued that the existing problems with Muslims in Western society has “also influenced Chinese society to some extent.”

The article concludes that when it comes to handling national religious affairs, “we must believe in the Party, the country, and the government because they will do what is good for the people.”

By Manya Koetse,Miranda Barnes, Richard Barnes


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

©2017 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, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Grandpa Picks up the Wrong Kid from School, Takes Him to Get Flu Vaccine

Even grandpa makes mistakes!

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The parents of a 6-year-old boy in Guiyang, Guizhou province, had the shock of their lives when they discovered their son Xiao Hongyu had been picked up from school by an elderly man on Friday afternoon.

The parents were told by their son’s school teacher that their son had been picked up by his alleged ‘grandfather.’ School security footage showed how an unknown grey-haired man had stepped inside the classroom on June 8, and took the boy outside with him.

Soon after, the desperate mother posted the security footage images on her WeChat ‘Moments’ account, asking people for help – fearing that her child had become the target of a child trafficker.

When one person, an old classmate of the mother, recognized her own father in the images, the case was soon solved; the older man was supposed to pick his grandson Xiao Hongrui up from school, but instead took Xiao Hongyu with him.

Xiao Hongyu had been ‘missing’ for a total of four hours, a time during which his temporary ‘grandfather’ had taken him along for food shopping, and even took the little boy to the hospital to get a flu vaccine.

During an interview at the local police office, the man’s son-in-law told reporters that grandpa had just come to visit from the countryside, and was not too familiar with his own grandson’s appearance. The fact that Xiao Hongyu and Xiao Hongrui look alike and have a similar voice, as well as name, also did not help, and the man mistakingly took the wrong kid home.

Meanwhile, the man’s real grandson, Xiao Hongrui, remained at school, waiting to be picked up.

According to various Chinese media reports, Xiao Hongyu did feel the situation was not right, and tried to tell the older man that he was not his grandson. But because the man suffers from hearing impairment, he did not hear the little boy’s questions and remarks.

The school teacher in charge told reporters that the unfortunate mistake also occurred because Xiao Hongyu told his teacher that the man was “grandpa” when they asked him who the man was.

Xiao Hongyu and his mum.

The topic became top trending on Sina Weibo on June 12. “In the eyes of a 6-year-old, every old man is a ‘grandpa,'” many people commented.

Although the majority of people find the situation humorous, there are also many netizens who feel the issue is no laughing matter, because it means abductors and child traffickers can easily pick a child up from school.

They blame the school for not checking the man’s status, the hospital for not checking the little boy’s identity, and the parents for not teaching their boy not to leave with strangers.

This is not the first time a story such as this makes headlines. In 2016, an American grandfather also took the wrong child home. In that case, the child, just like Xiao Hongyu, also confirmed to teachers that the man was his grandfather.

In the UK, in 2013, a grandfather also took the wrong child to a doctor’s appointment. The little girl’s mother later told reporters that it is “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

By Manya Koetse


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China Food & Drinks

Yangzhou Man Found Dead after Drinking, Friends Pay 1 Million RMB Settlement

Is Chinese drinking culture to blame for deaths related to alcohol?

Chauncey Jung

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The recent death of a 30-year-old Chinese man at the Jing Hua Metropark Hotel (京华维景酒店) in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, has triggered discussions on Weibo.

On Friday, May 19, the man was discovered in his hotel room bathtub by his friends. The following day, Yangzhou Police officially confirmed the man’s death, China News reports.

The man, who was from the nearby Gaoyou County, allegedly died of a heart attack after drinking during a formal dinner with friends at the hotel.

Local media later reported that the friends present during the night reached a 1 million yuan (±US$157,000) settlement with the man’s family. The cost of the settlement will be shared among the friends who were drinking that night.

In February of this year, two similar stories made headlines in China. In one case, a young migrant worker died after excessive drinking at a company lunch and dinner in southern China.

The man, according to SCMP, drank the equivalent of 600ml of baijiu (白酒), a popular spirit that contains around 50% alcohol.

The other case involved a man who died when he was left by his friends at a hotel in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, after heavily drinking at a banquet.

Surveillance cameras in Jinhua captured how the man was unable to stand or walk after drinking with his friends.

Those friends also paid a compensation together of 610,000 yuan (US$96,000) to the man’s family.

Earlier this month, organisers of an alcohol drinking contest in Henan province were also ordered to pay a compensation of over US$70,000 after one participant died due to excessive alcohol intake in July of last year.

 

“We’d better bring our medical records before drinking with friends.”

 

The most recent 1 million yuan settlement became a heated topic on Weibo, where one commenter stated that perhaps it is time to sign a legal waiver with all friends who drink together before they become legally responsible for potential settlement costs.

Another commenter suggested that alcohol manufacturers should be responsible for such deaths. The majority of the commenters, however, blamed Chinese drinking culture (中国酒桌文化) for these incidents.

In the Chinese traditional drinking culture, people are usually encouraged to drink as much as they can, or to exceed their limits; the goal sometimes is to literally “take someone to the ground by drinking.”

When someone proposes a toast, everyone at the table is required to finish their glasses, sometimes at a very high pace.

Since Chinese drinking culture usually involves drinks with a high alcohol percentage, such as the aforementioned baijiu, heavy drinkers have a higher risk of alcohol poisoning.

Despite some claiming that the ‘long, traditional’ drinking culture is meant to strengthen people’s relations, critics argue that China’s coercive drinking culture is a toxic practice that is harmful to people’s health.

The pressure to drink sometimes goes beyond friendly relations, as those who decline a drink can be verbally attacked or looked down on by others participating in the event.

Especially during formal business dinners, the amount of alcohol one can drink is taken as a sign of their strength of character or abilities; those who can consume the most are regarded as the best candidates and may receive financial benefits or better business relations with others because of it.

“It would be better for us to bring medical records with us before we started drinking with friends,” one Weibo netizen jokingly comments.

“It’s good they have to pay compensation [to the family],” another person writes: “This might put an end to the Chinese drinking culture where people are basically forced to drink alcohol.”

By Chauncey Jung

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©2018 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. ©2014-2017

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