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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, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

World’s Largest Terminal: Spectacular Photos of Beijing’s New Airport

The city’s new international airport will be the biggest one in the world.

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Its opening is more than a year from now, but Beijing’s new international airport is already a spectacular sight.

Beijing’s new airport, that is expected to open in fall of 2019, is attracting some attention on Chinese social media lately as construction work on the major airport is speeding up.

A 7,200 tons and 404.5-meter-long roof was placed on the airport’s no.1 hangar earlier this week.

The airport is located in southern Beijing in Daxing (大兴区), and is expected to welcome some 72 million travelers per year in the future. The terminal area will cover some 700,000 square meter.

Photo of the upcoming airport posted on Weibo by @永定河孔雀城

According to Sina News, at most 8000 builders are working on the construction site at the same time.

The terminal building was designed by ADPI in collaboration with, amongst other consultants, Zaha Hadid Architects, who are known for their futuristic structures.

The airport is also called the “alien base” (外星人基地) by some netizens due to its extraordinary size and design.

Dozens of photos of the airport construction site are circulating on Weibo.

Photographer Chou Gui (@chougui17) posted a collection of various photos of the upcoming airport on their Weibo account.

Chinese state media propagate Beijing’s Daxing International Airport as being “100% China-made.” Located in the Daxing district of southern Beijing, it will become an important part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city cluster.

You might also like to read: Real-Life Fairy Tale Landscape: Abandoned Fishing Village Houtouwan.

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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China Local News

Chongqing Man Throws Golden Retriever and Cat from 21st Floor

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A brutal case of pet killing has shocked Chinese social media users this week. On September 6, a man from the Shapingba district of Chongqing threw his golden retriever and a pregnant cat from the 21st floor of an apartment building. Both animals died.

Various Chinese media report that the man supposedly committed the cruel act after learning his wife was pregnant and not wanting her to keep pets in the house while expecting. After an argument with his wife, he allegedly threw the pets out of the window.

Shocked neighbors told reporters that the incident occurred around five o’clock on Thursday, when they heard a loud thump and found the animals on the pavement.

Some neighbours recognized the animals, as their own dog would play with the golden retriever. They called the pet owner, who said he no longer wanted anything to do with the dog and the cat. The neighbors, some crying, later gave the dog and cat a respectful burial.

On Weibo, the hashtag “Man Throws Dog and Cat from 21st Floor” (#男子21楼扔下一猫一狗#) was viewed almost three million times.

Animal cruelty often becomes a topic of debate on Weibo. One of the biggest social media trending cases of animal abuse of the past years is that of the dog Lion, who went missing in December of 2017 and was found by a woman named He Hengli who then blackmailed the dog’s owner over its release.

When the ‘hostage negotiations’ reached a deadlock, the dog’s owner finally went to He’s apartment to fetch her dog together with police offers and reporters. While they knocked the door, Lion was thrown to his death from He’s sixth story apartment.

The story of ‘Lion,’ who was killed by the person who held him ‘hostage’, went viral on Weibo in January 2018.

As in many cases in which animal cruelty has been exposed on social media, Lion’s killer became a target of the so-called ‘human flesh search engine,’ with people leaking her personal information online and threatening her at her workplace and home.

Such cases have previously even led to mob justice, with people dragging abusers out of their homes and beating them.

People often resort to this kind of ‘jungle justice’ because China currently has no laws preventing animal abuse. The voices calling for legal protection of animals in China have gotten louder over the past years.

“I just cannot understand these kinds of people’s way of thinking,” one commenter said: “They now throw a dog, what will they throw next time?”

“[If you no longer want your pets], you could just give them away, instead of cruelly throwing them to their death. Also – if someone would’ve walked there, they might have died, too,” others wrote.

Some write: “If someone mistreats an animal it’s a clear sign they’re abnormal maniacs,” with many others worrying about the future child of the pet killer: “He’s surely not fit to be a father.”

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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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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