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The PRC Twitter List: The Rise of China on Twitter

“Twittering China’s stories well” – about the surge of Chinese official accounts on Twitter.

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Over the past year, there’s been more media coverage on the growing influence of China on global media. When it comes to social media, Twitter has seen a significant surge in accounts representing Chinese official media, diplomatic missions, and state organizations. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of these Twitter accounts and the rise of China on Twitter.

Apart from the countless Chinese official media and government accounts on China’s domestic social media platform Weibo, there is now an increasing number of Beijing-linked accounts that have gone beyond the Great Firewall and have set out for Twitter.

Official Chinese accounts have become more present and more active on foreign social media over the past few years, and we have found that there has been a significant surge of new official accounts arriving on Twitter in 2019 and in early 2020.

Within China, Weibo and WeChat have become increasingly relevant when it comes to public diplomacy. For years now, foreign embassies, media, pundits, and government organizations from all over the world are active on Chinese social media platforms.

The growing ubiquity of digital diplomacy is unsurprising: social media platforms are a low-cost and convenient tool for engaging with local audiences for public diplomacy purposes.

In our article “Digital Diplomacy: These Foreign Embassies Are Most (Un)Popular on Weibo” (2016), we explored the popularity of foreign embassies on Sina Weibo. There is even a term for this kind of diplomacy via Weibo: “Weiplomacy.”

While foreign actors are active on Weibo and other platforms, Chinese actors are also increasingly active in the English-language social media sphere.

The use of Twitter for diplomacy uses is not new, nor is it unique to China. The term used for public diplomacy strategies on Twitter is ‘Twiplomacy,’ and government officials from as many as 178 countries have been using Twitter for diplomatic purposes (Guo et al 2019, 563-564).

 

CHINA’S TWIPLOMACY

 

The use of Twitter for Chinese government purposes has received more media attention recently. In June of this year, news came out that Twitter suspended more than 23,000 ‘fake’ accounts for allegedly being linked to the Chinese Communist Party and spreading ­false information and promote Party narratives to undermine the Hong Kong protests and/or to counter criticism of Beijing’s handling of COVID-19 (Washington Post, 2020).

This development is somewhat surprising, as previous studies have found no evidence of these kinds of automated processes on Twitter as part of Chinese international propaganda efforts (Bolsover & Howard 2019). Noteworthy enough, it was previously found that those using bot activities on the platform to manipulate information about China and Chinese politics were actually anti-China groups (ibid., 2076).

What is clear from the recent growing presence of Chinese state-related accounts on Twitter, is that online political communication promoting Chinese interests is often manually done by real accounts and real people, e.g. state employees, as part of their regular jobs.

China’s shift from traditional forms of public diplomacy and propaganda to more innovative and digital ones has been ongoing for years. Since Xi Jinping’s ascension to power, the media strategy of “telling China’s story well” started to become more prominent in foreign diplomacy efforts (Shambaugh 2020, 17).

But also before this time, between 2009 and 2011, there was a heightened focus on China’s international media presence, with the government spending billions on a global media plan, mainly executed via media agencies such as Xinhua, China Daily, CCTV, and China Radio International (Bolsover & Howard 2019, 2065; Huang & Wang 2020, 118).

The One Belt, One Road summit in May of 2017 was an important digital media moment as Chinese state media and official social media accounts shared new kinds of promotional campaigns targeted at domestic and foreign audiences (see our article). In that same year, social media also played a major role in the propagation of PRC’s “New Era,” which was promoted via short videos, cartoons, and gifs (also see this article).

Whereas China’s foreign online public diplomacy previously mostly seemed to focus on promoting the positive image of China as a peaceful nation (the 2020 study by Huang and Wang on ‘panda engagement’ analyzes the panda-themed tweets of official media accounts on Twitter), we have seen a different trend in China’s digital public diplomacy over the past year.

Yes, there are still panda tweets. But Twitter is also used more and more to also aggressively defend China’s image and attacking others while spreading official narratives on contentious issues such as the South China Sea dispute, US-China trade war, alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, the Hong Kong protests, and China’s handling of the COVID19 outbreak.

Example of public diplomacy on Twitter, via Ministry of Foreign Affairs @MFA_China (screenshot by What’s on Weibo).

This is not always done in the most sophisticated way. One noteworthy example is that of the China State Council Information Office, tweeting under the (unverified) handle of @chinascio. In 2016 and early 2017, the account repeatedly responded to other twitterers using slang terms such as “dude” or “bro” (“better for you to learn a whole picture of China, dude“), causing hilarity among Twitter users. James Griffith (@jgriffiths) even covered the issue on the CNN website, highlighting the account’s use of the “truth ain’t lie dude” phrase. The controversy was also covered by Chinese Huanqiu Online (Global Times) media outlet.

Other official accounts, such as People’s Daily or that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have also sent out tweets in the past that seemed somewhat out of character, using common slang terms such as “dude” or “LOL.”

Over the past two years, Chinese Twitter strategies seem to have become more sophisticated, with an increasing number of state media, diplomatic missions and government organizations joining the American social media platform.

There are, however, new rows coming up over the Twitter use of Chinese officials. In May of 2020, China’s embassy in Paris sent out a tweet portraying a grim reaper – dressed in US flag while holding a scythe with the Star of David – knocking on the door of Hong Kong, with a text saying: “Who’s next?”

Screenshot as posted by Isaac Stone Fish on Twitter
@isaacstonefish

The embassy soon deleted the tweet and released a statement saying its Twitter was hacked. It was not the first time the Embassy came under scrutiny for its Twitter use; the Chinese Ambassador to France was summoned to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in April for a series of other provocative tweets during the coronavirus crisis.

The French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs stated that the tweets were not “keeping with the quality of the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”

Although Chinese state media outlet Global Times wrote about the official Twitter account that the “Chinese Embassy’s humorous satirical taste delights social media users,” these kinds of online altercations show that China’s global diplomatic offense on Twitter can lead to offline clashes, or rather, that online and offline diplomacy are no longer separate worlds. Digital diplomacy is thus not necessarily just ‘digital diplomacy’ – it’s diplomacy, period.

 

TWITTER USE IN CHINA

 

That there is a growing presence of Chinese official accounts on Twitter does not mean that there is also growing freedom for Chinese web users to use the platform from within mainland China.

Twitter has been blocked in China since June 2009, and is inaccessible unless web users make use of software to circumvent censorship and to jump over the Great Firewall of China. Only a small percentage of Chinese web users do so.

According to a survey by political scientist Daniela Stockmann, cited in the New York Times, some 0.4 percent of China’s internet users, roughly 3.2 million people, use Twitter.

Not only is Twitter blocked in China – Chinese nationals who post critical views on the platform could end up in trouble. In his 2019 New York Times article, Paul Mozur explored the Beijing crackdown of Twitter, writing that a growing number of Chinese twitterers are questioned or even detained for their activities on Twitter.

Chinese activists quoted in the article talk about being advised to remove tweets, and also about being interrogated, threatened, and physically restrained over their Twitter behavior.

Telling – or rather, Twittering – China’s stories well is a key mission in China today. But who Twitters these stories in what ways is strictly controlled.

 

ABOUT THIS LIST

 

To give you an idea of China’s new Twitter diplomacy and to provide insight into the ‘official’ accounts that are active on Twitter today, we have compiled the list below for reference, consisting of some 280 relevant accounts in total.

This list only covers accounts representing mainland Chinese state media, diplomatic missions, and other government & state organizations. It leaves out individual Chinese Twitter users unless they are officially representing Chinese media and/or state and government organizations.

The number of followers for each account is recorded at the time of writing between July 11-20. Accounts are listed going from most number of followers on top.

This list is by no means complete. We might have overseen official accounts (please let us know), and it has left out, for example, the many different accounts run by Confucius Institutes worldwide, and also does not list the state-owned enterprises that are active on Twitter.

This list has been compiled manually by What’s on Weibo – it is not an official list by any means. Please note that we have included accounts that have not been verified by Twitter, as most of these accounts do not have the verified ‘v’ status (yet) – the fact that Twitter’s verified account program has been on hold for a long time might have to do with this.

Although caution is thus advised, we currently have no reason to assume that any of the accounts in this list do not belong to the person or organization they say they represent in their bio.

Contributing to this is the fact that these accounts are also followed by other official accounts that have already been verified. If an account is officially verified, we have tagged it as “VERIFIED ACCOUNT.”

In writing personal names, we stick to the way the person presents their name on Twitter. Mostly, they state their last name first, followed by the given name, but sometimes they use the Western style and turn it around.

This list is not necessarily focused on accounts tweeting in English. Many of the accounts tweet in (traditional) Chinese or other languages including Spanish, Japanese, German, or French (both media and accounts of diplomatic missions).

 

NOTEWORTHY FINDINGS

 

The first official Chinese media accounts to join Twitter are Global Times, CCTV, China Daily, and China Plus News (CRI). They all joined from April-Nov 2009, three years after the founding of Twitter, and in the same year that the platform was blocked in mainland China. This was also the year that the Chinese government under Hu Jintao reportedly spent $8.7 billion on a foreign media expansion project.

From that moment on, Chinese media accounts slowly start joining Twitter. Around the 2012-2013 period, when President Xi Jinping introduces the idea of promoting China in the digital age by “telling China’s stories well,” accounts such as China News, Xinhua News, Guangming Daily, and CGTN all join Twitter. Region-specific accounts, including People’s Daily Arabic, Xinhua Spanish, or CGTN Africa, also all join around this period.

Around the year 2017, we see a small surge in Chinese media, government, and city accounts joining Twitter. This is the year that China’s Belt and Road propaganda machine is running at full speed. It is also the year of the 19th National Congress, when Chinese media focus on the message of “supporting China’s New Era.”

But the most noteworthy first surge of Chinese ‘official’ government-related and diplomatic accounts takes place in 2019 at the time of the Hong Kong Protests. While mass demonstrations and violent clashes take place in Hong Kong, we see a total of 35 new official diplomatic/government accounts joining Twitter from July to November of 2019.

The second rise of Chinese official accounts on Twitter takes place in the period of January to March 2020, when a total of 47 new official diplomatic/government accounts join the platform during the international COVID19 crisis.

There also seems to be a clear shift in China’s “Twiplomacy” regarding the overall tone of Twitter posts. Whereas most of the city and regional accounts – arriving on Twitter since 2012 – engage in “panda twiplomacy” and promote China as a harmonious leader and beautiful tourist destination, many diplomatic and media accounts that joined Twitter later shifted tones in addressing international criticism or clarifying China’s stance in main issues concerning the international community, including the South China Sea issue and the US-China trade war.

Over recent months and weeks, the accounts of many diplomats and other accounts in this list have tweeted out images/information sheets, articles, or videos on “What is True and What is False” regarding international media reports on China’s alleged human rights violations, Hong Kong National Security Law, and COVID19 pandemic. These kinds of “true” and “false” images are often produced by Chinese media outlets and then retweeted by many embassy and/or diplomatic accounts and other media accounts. 

We also found that this list of Twitter accounts does not mirror Weibo at all – many of the accounts in this list have no presence on Weibo and thus were solely created to speak to an overseas audience.

The accounts in this list amplify each other by following each other and through retweeting. For example, the @MFA_China account (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has over 178k followers on Twitter, and often retweets the tweets by other official accounts. The diplomatic, media, and city/region accounts often follow each other.

Here’s our list! (First version July 21, 2020, updated by adding three more diplomats on July 22, 2020).

Update August 7 2020: As of August 6, 2020, Twitter implemented government and state-affiliated media account labels on its platform. The label appears on the profile page of the relevant Twitter account, as shown in the example below.

 

LIST OF CHINA ACCOUNTS ON TWITTER

 

CHINA GOVERNMENT & STATE RELATED ACCOUNTS

CHINA DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS

 

Chinese Embassy in Pakistan
@CathayPak, 104.8K followers
(Joined Sep 2015)

Chinese Embassy in Brazil
@EmbaixadaChina, 72.8K followers
(Joined May 2018)

Chinese Embassy in Japan 中華人民共和国駐日本国大使館
@ChnEmbassy_jp, 69K followers
(Joined April 2014)

Chinese Embassy in US
@ChineseEmbinUS, 45.6K followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chinese Mission to UN
@Chinamission2un, 39.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined April 2015)

Chinese Embassy in Italy
@AmbCina, 33K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2018)

Chinese Embassy in Spain
@ChinaEmbEsp, 26.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Turkey
@ChinaEmbTurkey, 28.5K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2015)

Chinese Embassy in France
@AmbassadeChine, 24.1K followers
(Joined August 2019)

Chinese Embassy to Yemen
@ChineseEmbtoYEM, 18.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined September 2019)

Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the EU
@ChinaEUMission, 16K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2013)

Chinese Embassy in UK
@ChineseEmbinUK, 13.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2019)

Chinese Embassy in the Philippines
@Chinaembmanila, 12.2K followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Chinese Embassy in South Africa
@ChineseEmbSA, 12K followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Kenya
@ChineseEmbKenya, 6662 followers
(Joined March 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Canada
@ChinaEmbOttawa, 6492 followers
(Joined June 2014)

Chinese Embassy in Tanzania
@ChineseEmbTZ, 6,064 followers
(Joined Dec 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe
@ChineseZimbabwe, 5,856 followers
(Joined Sep 2018)

Chinese Consulate General in Istanbul
@chinaconsulist, 4778 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Congo
@AmbCHINEenRDC, 4654 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Uganda
@ChineseEmb_Uga, 3943 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2018)

Chinese Embassy in Venezuela
@Emb_ChinaVen, 3785 followers
(Joined September 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Somalia
@ChineseSomalia, 3424 followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Argentina
@ChinaEmbArg, 3212 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka
@ChinaEmbSL, 2920 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia
@ChinaEmbAddis, 2809 followers
(Joined December 2019)

China Mission Geneva
@ChinaMissionGva, 2574 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2015)

Chinese Embassy in Hungary
@ChineseEmbinHU, 2527 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2019)

Permanent Mission of China in Vienna
@ChinaMissionVie, 2344 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Germany
@ChinaEmbGermany, 2339 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined December 2019)

Chinese Consulate General in Chicago
@ChinaConsulate, 2315 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2019)

Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Chad
@ambchinetchad, 2272 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Iraq
@ChinaIraq, 2187 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined January 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Ireland
@ChinaEmbIreland, 2157 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Poland
@ChinaEmbPoland, 2102 followers
(Joined July 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Grenada
@ChinaEmbGrenada, 2033 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan
@ChinaEmbKazakh, 1957 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Burundi
@AmbChineBurundi, 1818 followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Guinea 中国驻几内亚大使馆
@chine_guinee, 1769 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Slovenia
@ChinaEmSlovenia, 1632 followers
(Joined Dec 2017)

Chinese Embassy in Mali
@Chine_au_Mali, 1452 followers
(Joined Aug 2018)

Chinese Consulate General in Calgary
@ChinaCGCalgary, 1442 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Austria
@chinaembaustria, 1391 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Colombia
@china_embajada, 1343 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Jordan
@ChineseembassyJ, 1321 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Angola
@ChinaEmbAngola, 1391 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Papua New Guinea
@ChineseEmb_PNG, 1344 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Samoa 中国驻萨摩亚大使馆
@chinaandsamoa, 1187 followers
(Joined September 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Liberia
@ChineseLiberia, 1163 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined December 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Cameroon
@AmbChineCmr, 1130 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Consulate-Generale of China in Rio de Janeiro
@ConsulChinaRJ, 1119 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined December 2019)

Consultate General of People’s Republic of China in Nagoya
@ChnConsulateNgo, 1071 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Albania
@ChinaembassyT , 1023 followers
(Joined April 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Belarus 中国驻白俄罗斯大使馆
@ZhongBai2020, 975 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Consulate General of China in Barcelona 中国驻巴塞罗那总领馆
@ConsulChinaBcn, 968 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Nigeria
@china_emb_ng, 946 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Denmark
@ChinaInDenmark, 904 followers
(Joined May 2017)

Chinese Embassy in the Slovak Republic 中国驻斯洛伐克使馆
@ChinaEmbSVK, 867 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Peru
@ChinaEmbPeru, 799 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Suriname
@CHNEmbSuriname, 793 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Consulate of China in Niigata 中華人民共和国駐新潟総領事館の新ちゃん
@ChnConsulateNgt, 737 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Consulate General of China in Jeju
@jejuZLG, 736 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2019)

Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai
@CGPRCinDubai, 724 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Consulate General of China in Fukuoka 中華人民共和国駐福岡総領事館
@ChnConsulateFuk, 722 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Russia
@ChineseEmbinRus, 673 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Tonga 中国驻汤加大使馆
@embassy_chinese, 611 followers
(Joined Nov 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Czech Republic
@ChineseEmbinCZ, 502 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Ghana
@ChinaEmbinGH, 478 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Djibouti
@ChineAmbDjibout, 424 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Consulat Général de Chine à Lyon
@China_Lyon, 280 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Embassy of China in the Netherlands
@ChinaEmbNL, 269 followers
(Joined June 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in Johannesburg
@ChnConsulateJhb, 241 followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

Chinese Consulate General in Sydney
@ChinaConSydney, 227 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Serbia
@EmbChina_RS, 216 followers
(Joined May 2020)

Consulate-General of China in Strasbourg
@consulat_de, 203 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco
@ConsulateSan, 131 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh
@chinacgedi, 110 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in Belfast 中国驻贝尔法斯特总领事馆
@CCGBelfast, 39 followers
(Joined March 2020)

 

CHINESE AMBASSADORS AND DIPLOMATS

 

Cui Tiankai, @AmbCuiTiankai
Chinese Ambassador to the US, 79.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2019)

Sun Weidong, @China_Amb_India
Chinese Ambassador to India, 75.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2017)

Liu Xiaoming, @AmbLiuXiaoMing
Chinese Ambassador to the UK, 67.8K Followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

Yang Wanming, @WanmingYang
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Federative Republic of Brazil, 47.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2015)

Hou Yanqi, @PRCAmbNepal
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nepal, 43.7K Followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chen Weiqing, @AmbChenWeiQing
Ambassador of China in Saudi Arabia , 33.3K followers
(Joined July 2019)

Chang Hua, @AmbChangHua
Ambassador of China to the Islamic Republic of Iran, 16.6K followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

Wei Qiang 魏强 , @weiasecas
Chinese Ambassador to Panamá, 15.9K followers
(Joined Nov 2017)

Zhang Heqing, @zhang_heqing
Cultural Counsellor, Director of China Cultural Center in Pakistan, 15.2K followers
(Joined May 2020)

Zhang Run, @EmbZhangRun
Chinese Ambassador to Dominican Republic, 12.1K followers
(Joined Dec 2018)

Zhang Lizhong, @AmbassadorZhang
Chinese Ambassador to Maldives, 11.8K followers
(Joined June 2019)

Wang Yu 王愚, @ChinaEmbKabul
Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, 11.2K followers
(Joined Jan 2017)

Li Xiaosi, @li_xiaosi
Chinese Ambassador to Austria, 11.1K followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Deng Xijun, @China2ASEAN
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to ASEAN, 10.3K followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Chen Bo, @AmbChenBo
Ambassador of China to Serbia, 9531 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Zha Liyou 查立友, @ZhaLiyou
CG of China in Kolkata 中国驻加尔各答总领事, 9935 followers
VERIFIED (Joined August 2019)

Mu Xiaodong 沐小东, @Xiaodong_Mu
Diplomat and Consul of Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, 8086
(Joined April 2016)

Zhang Yiming, @Amb_Yiming
Ambassador of China to the Republic of Namibia, 7467 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Guo Shaochun, @China_Amb_Zim
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, 7434 followers
(Joined April 2019)

Liao Liqiang, @AmbLiaoLiqiang
Chinese Ambassador to Egypt, 7232 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Li Bijian 李碧建, @libijian2
Consul General of China to Karachi, 7011 followers
(Joined January 2020)

Ji Rong, @ChinaSpox_India
Spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India, 6330 Followers
(Joined March 2020)

Quan Liu @AmbLiuQuan
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Suriname, 5814 followers
(Joined Sept 2019)

Wang Kejian, @ChinainLebanon
Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, 5752 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Zhu Liying (朱立英), @LiyingZHU1
Chinese Ambassador to Mali, 5593 followers
(Joined August 2019)

Ou Jianhong, @oujianhong
Embajadora de China in El Salvador, 4619 followers
(Joined August 2018)

Feng Biao, @AmbFengBiao
Chinese Ambassador To Syria, 4630 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Liu Guangyuan, @AmbLiuGuangYuan
Chinese Ambassador to Poland, 3867 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Xu Hong, @PRCAmbNL
Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands, 3485 followers
(Joined Nov 2019)

Zhu Jing 朱京, @Amb_ZhuJing
Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Congo, 3360 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chen Xu, @Amb_ChenXu
Chinese Ambassador, Permanent Representative to UN office in Geneva, 3171 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Zhang Jun, @ChinaAmbUN
China’s Permanent Representative to the UN, 3013 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Liu Yuxi, @Ambassador_Liu
Chinese Ambassador to the AU and the UNECA, 2787 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2019)

Zhao Yongchen, @DrZhaoyongchen
Chinese Ambassador to Grenada, 2416 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2019)

Huang Xingyuan, @AmbassadorHuang
Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus, 2069 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Cao Yi (Abou Wassim), @CAOYI170610
Consul, Embassy of China in Lebanon, 2015 followers
(Joined May 2018)

Zhang Ping, @CGZhangPingLA
Official Twitter for Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, 1642 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2019)

Dong Zhihua, @Dong_zhihua
WA Consul General, 1607 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Lin Jing 林静, @CGCHINA_CPT
Chinese Consul General in Cape Town, 1451 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Cao Zhongming, @ChinaAmbBelgium
Chinese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, 1429 followers
(Joined Dec 2019)

Liu_Hongyang, @LiuHongyang4
Ambassador of China to Malawi, 1265 followers
(Joined Feb 2018)

Zheng ZhuQiang, @ChinaAmbUganda
Ambassador of China to Uganda, 1163 followers
(Joined March 2018)

Li Li, @AmbassadeurLiLi
Ambassador of China to Marocco, 1085 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Zhao Qinghua, @Dr_ZhaoQinghua
Consul General of China in Zurich and for the Principality of Liechtenstein, 765 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Li Yang, @CGChinaLiYang
Consule-General China in Rio de Janeiro, 727 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Yan Xiusheng 延秀生, @YXiusheng
Chinese Ambassador to Barbados, 614 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Chinese Embassy Bangkok, @chineseembassy1
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Thailand, 567 followers
(Joined May 2019)

Fang Yi @FangYi85320692
Spokesperson & Head of Political Office of the Chinese Embassy in Uganda, 550 followers
(Joined Jan 2018)

Gu Wenliang 顾文亮, @GuWenliang
Agricultural Commissioner, Chinese Embassy in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 527 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Lijun Xing 邢立军 @xing_lijun
Chinese Diplomat in Pakistan, 514 followers
(Joined April 2017)

Lei Kezhong, @AmbassadorLei
Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, 494 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Zhou Jian, @AmbZhouJian
Chinese Ambassador to the State of Qatar, 452 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Li Song 李松, @Amb_LiSong
Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs, Deputy Permanent Representative to UN Office in Geneva, 437 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2020)

Du Xiaohui, @GeneralkonsulDu
Generalkonsul der VR China in Hamburg, 341 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined February 2020)

Ribiao Chen, @RibiaoChen
Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in the Hague, 249 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

SONG C.Q., @Song_Chq
Deputy Chief & Political Counselor of Chinese Embassy in Lesotho, 216 followers
(Joined Sep 2007)

Wang Donghua, @WDonghua
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco
(Joined March 2020)

Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Egypt
@CHN_EGY, 126 followers
(Joined June 2020)

Song Yichu, @YichuSong
Chinese diplomat in Pakistan, 98 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Zhang Meifang 张美芳总领事, @CGMeifangZhang
Consul General of China to Belfast, 63 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Liu Yuyin 刘玉印, @ChnMission
Spokesperson Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, 13 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

 

CHINA GOVERNMENT & STATE ACCOUNTS

 

Zhao Lijian 赵立坚 / Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
@zlj517, 731.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2010)

Hua Chunying 华春莹 / Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
@SpokespersonCHN, 579.4K followers
(Joined October 2019)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Spokesperson发言人办公室
@MFA_China, 177.4K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2019)

State Council Information Office of China 中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室
@chinascio, 38.6K followers
(Joined September 2015)

Hu Zhaoming / Spokesperson of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee 中联部发言人胡兆明
@SpokespersonHZM, 6494 followers
(Joined April 2020)

CIDCA China International Development Cooperation Agency
@cidcaofficial, 4969 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Fu Cong 傅聪 / Director-General of The Department of Arms Control (MFA)
@FuCong17, 2945 followers
(Joined June 2020)

 

CITY / REGION ACCOUNTS 


Visit Xiamen
@VisitXiamen, 228.1K followers
(Joined Oct 2016)

Suzhou, China
@VisitSuzhou, 187.8k followers
(Joined Jan 2015)

Visit Wuhan
@visit_wuhan, 154.6K followers
(Joined Jan 2018)

Visit Beijing
@VisitBeijingcn, 117.4K followers
(Joined July 2014)

Shenyang
@ShenyangChina, 102.3K followers
(Joined Nov 2017)

Kunshan
@Kunshan_China, 100.5K followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

HANGZHOU TOURISM and CULTURE
@TOURISMHANGZHOU, 100.3L followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2014)

Hangzhou, China
@Hangzhou_CHINA, 95.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2012)

Jiangsu, China
@GoJiangsu, 84.3K followers
(Joined Jan 2015)

Visit Shaanxi
@visitshaanxi, 66.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2013)

VisitJiangsu
@VisitJiangsu, 53.4K followers
(Joined Feb 2016)

Changsha
@ChangshaCity, 46.8K followers
(Joined April 2017)

Anhui China
@AnhuiChina, 45.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2018)

Visit Sichuan-China
@Amazingsichuan, 39.9K followers
(Joined Aug 2014)

Guangzhou China
@Guangzhou_City, 39.4K followers
(Joined July 2015)

FuzhouCity
@FuzhouCity, 37.2K followers
(Joined Dec 2015)

Wuzhen China
@Wuzhen__China, 34.8K followers
(Joined April 2017)

Xiangyang
@XiangyangCity, 33K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2015)

Wuxi China 魅力無錫
@WuxiCity, 31.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2015)

Rugao City
@RugaoCity, 24.5K followers
(Joined Jan 2018)

Visit Guangxi-China
@VisitGuangxi, 23.8K followers
(Joined Dec 2017)

Nanjing China
@GoToNanjing, 22.1K followers
(Joined Oct 2017)

Guizhou, China
@iloveguizhou, 14K followers
(Joined July 2018)

Visit Weifang, China
@visitweifang, 12.8K followers
(Joined Sep 2016)

Hefei, China
@HefeiChina, 8857 followers
(Joined March 2018)

Ordos, China
@OrdosChina, 7447 followers
(Joined May 2017)

Visit Haikou
@visithaikou, 7020 followers
(Joined Oct 2016)

Discover Foshan
@DiscoverFoshan, 6812 followers
(Joined Dec 2019)

Visit Yantai
@VisitYantai, 6113 followers
(Joined Nov 2016)

Incredible Jinan
@JinanofChina, 6513 followers
(Joined August 2019)

Chengdu China
@Chengdu_China, 4710 followers
(Joined Feb 2012)

Discover Hohhot
@HohhotChina, 4547 followers
(Joined July 2019)

Visit Xi’an
@VisitXian, 3734 followers
(Joined Aug 2017)

Friendly Shandong
@VisitShandong, 3437 followers
(Joined Nov 2013)

Discover Ningxia
@DiscoverNingxia, 2821 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2015)

This is Zhongshan
@ThisisZhongshan, 1890 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Discover Yunnan
@DiscoverYunnan, 1720 followers
(Joined Oct 2014)

Inner Mongolia China
@InnerMongolia70, 1686 followers
(Joined June 2017)

Discover Kunming
@DiscoverKunming, 1621 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2014)

Xiong’an New Area
@Xiongan_NewArea, 1271 followers
(Joined Nov 2017)

Guangdong China
@iGuangdong, 1164 followers
(Joined Nov 2015)

Visit Rizhao
@VisitRizhao, 562 followers
(Joined January 2017)

Visit Wulong
@VisitWulong, 550 followers
(Joined Sep 2016)

Visit Zhengzhou
@visitzhengzhou, 390 followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Visit Kaifeng
@visitkaifeng, 275 followers
(Joined September 2016)

Visit Jining
@VisitJining, 180 followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Visit Tianjin
@VisitTianjin, 163 followers
(Joined Jan 2017)

Visitluoyang
@VisitLuoyang, 136 followers
(Joined March 2017)

Visit Fuzhou
@visit_fuzhou, 113 followers
(Joined April 2017)

Visit Zunyi
@VisitZunyi, 93 followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

Visit Weihai,China
@VisitWeihai, 71 followers
(Joined Oct 2016)

Zhejiang Tourism
@tourzj1, 54 followers
(Joined March 2014)

Invest Nantong
@InvestNantong, 46 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Visit Quzhou
@VisitQuzhou, 3 followers
(Joined June 2020)

 

CHINA OFFICIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS AND STATE-OWNED MEDIA OUTLETS


CGTN
@CGTNOfficial, 13.9M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2013)

China Xinhua News
@XHNews, 12.6M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined February 2012)

People’s Daily, China
@PDChina, 7.1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2011)

China Daily
@ChinaDaily, 4.3M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2009)
*(Wang Hao, @hongfenghuang
Deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, 8811 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2017))

Global Times
@globaltimesnews, 1.8M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2009)
*(Hu Xijin @胡锡进
Editor-in-chief Global Times, 408.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2014))

New China 中文
@XinhuaChinese, 1.3M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2015)

China.org.cn
@chinaorgcn, 1.1M followers
(Joined May 2010)
*(Xiaohui Wang 王晓辉 @wangxh65
Editor-in-Chief of http://China.org.cn., 1194 followers
(Joined April 2020))

CCTV
@CCTV, 1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2009)

CGTN Français
@CGTNFrancais, 1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2013)

China Science
@ChinaScience, 1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2019)

Modern China
@PDChinaBusiness, 931.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2019)

Beautiful China
@PDChinaLife, 870.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2019)

China Plus News
@ChinaPlusNews, 771.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined April 2009)

People’s Daily 人民日報
@PDChinese, 753.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2013)

CGTN Arabic
@cgtnarabic, 692.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2016)

Xinhua Sports
@XHSports, 656K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2016)

China News 中国新闻网
@Echinanews, 649.9K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2011)

CGTN en Español
@cgtnenespanol, 604.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2016)

Xinhua Culture&Travel
@XinhuaTravel, 545k followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2019)

China News Service 中國新聞社
@CNS1952, 486.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2013)

FlyOverChina
@FlyOverChina, 448.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2019)

SHINE (Shanghai United Media Group)
@shanghaidaily, 415.9K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined January 2009)

CGTN America
@cgtnamerica, 289.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2012)

Yicai Global 第一财经 (Financial news arm of Shanghai Media Group)
@yicaichina, 263,2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2016)

Guangming Daily
@Guangming_Daily, 238.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2012)

Pueblo En Línea /Spanish version of People’s Daily Online
@PuebloEnLnea, 150K followers
(Joined Dec 2012)

CGTN Africa
@cgtnafrica, 146.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2012)

People’s Daily Arabic صحيفة الشعب اليومية بالعربية
@PeopleArabic, 132.5K followers
(Joined Dec 2012)

China Xinhua Español
@XHespanol, 118.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2012)

CPEC Official (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor by CRI)
@CPEC_Official, 102.7K followers
(Joined Jan 2016)

Beijing Review
@BeijingReview, 96.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2009)

Quotidien du Peuple
@french_renmin, 86.7K followers
(Joined Aug 2011)

CRI Français
@CriFrancais, 77K followers
(Joined Jan 2016)

Sixth Tone (Shanghai United Media Group)
@sixthtone, 75.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2016)

China Xinhua News Japanese
@XHJapanese, 61.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2015)

Xinhua North America
@XHNorthAmerica, 38.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2016)

People’s Daily Japanese 人民網日本
@peopledailyJP, 34.3K followers
(Joined May 2011)

ShanghaiEye (SMG: Shanghai Media Group)
@ShanghaiEye, 29.4K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2015)

China Daily Asia
@ChinaDailyAsia, 28.3K followers
(Joined April 2011)

CCTV+
@CCTV_plus, 27.7K followers
(Joined Jan 2015)

Renmin Ribao Online
@RenminDeutsch, 27.4K followers
(Joined May 2014)

China Culture
@Chinacultureorg, 21.8K followers
(Joined Nov 2015)

CRI Japanese CRI日本語
@CRIjpn, 20.5K followers
(Joined Feb 2015)

Qingdao / ChindaDaily
@loveqingdao, 19.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2016)

Global Times Chinese 环球时报
@GlobalTimes_CN, 18.9K followers
(Joined May 2018)

Chine Nouvelle
@XHChineNouvelle, 17.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2014)

Xinhua Myanmar
@XHMyanmar, 13.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2015)

ChinaXinhuaPortugues
@XHportugues, 12.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2015)

The Business Source
@GlobalTimesBiz, 12.6K followers
(Joined Feb 2016)

China Daily Europe
@ChinaDailyEU, 10.9K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2011)
*(Chen Weihua 陈卫华, @chenweihua
China Daily EU Bureau Chief, 21.5K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2009))

@XHSwahili
@XHSwahili, 9587 followers
(Joined July 2015)

CGTN Europe
@CGTNEurope, 8302 followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

The Paper 澎湃新闻 (Shanghai United Media Group)
@thepapercn, 7725 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined August 2019)

CCTV Arabic
@cctvarabic, 6446 followers
(Joined July 2012)

China Xinhua Deutsch
@XHdeutsch, 5981 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2015)

XinhuaRomania
@XHRomania, 5491 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2015)

Global Times Russia
@GlobalTimesRus, 2589 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2017)

GTLife
@GlobalTimesLife, 1720 followers
(Joined April 2016)

CGTN World Insight with Tian Wei
@WorldInsight_TW, 1517 followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Women of China
@womenofchina, 1400 followers
(Joined Jan 2011)

People’s Daily app

@PeoplesDailyapp, 1379 followers
(Joined Feb 2018)

China Daily Hong Kong
@CDHKedition, 1141 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTNChina24
@China24Official, 720 followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

China Daily Africa
@CDAfricaNews, 690 followers
(Joined Aug 2016)

China Daily USA
@ChinaDailyUSA, 652 followers
(Joined Sep 2018)

Visual China / ChinaDaily
@CD_visual, 645 followers
(Joined May 2020)

China.org.cn German
@germanchinaorgc, 596 followers
(Joined August 2011)

Xinhua Africa
@xinhua_africa, 568 followers
(Joined April 2012)

China Daily World
@ChinaDailyWorld. 535 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTN Global Watch
@GlobalWatchCGTN, 514 followers
(Joined May 2018)

People’s Daily – Hong Kong
@PDChinaHK, 451 followers
(Joined June 2020)

China Daily Life
@ChinaDaily_Life, 418 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTN Culture
@CGTN_Culture, 362 followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

CGTN Tech
@CGTNTech, 286 followers
(Joined Dec 2018)

CGTN Stories
@CGTNStories, 267 followers
(Joined November 2019)

China Daily Opinion
@CdOpinion, 254 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTN Sports
CGTNSports, 183 followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

China Daily Asia-Pacific 中國日報亞太
@Chinadaily_CH, 153 followers
(Joined May 2020)

China Daily Russia
@chinadailyrus, 131 followers
(Joined April 2020)

China Daily EU
@ChinaDaily_EU, 104 followers
(Joined Feb 2019)

China Youth Daily
@ChinaYouthOL, 69 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

By Manya Koetse


Do you find this kind of research insightful? Would you like to read more about trends in China and its online media? Please consider supporting What’s on Weibo here so we can keep writing articles such as this one. Your small donation makes a big impact.

This is original work by What’s on Weibo, please do not copy, reproduce this content, nor distribute any part of this content over any network.

References

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

©2020 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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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Carmen

    July 21, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    “This development is somewhat surprising, as previous studies have found no evidence of these kinds of automated processes on Twitter as part of Chinese international propaganda efforts (Bolsover & Howard 2019). Noteworthy enough, it was previously found that those using bot activities on the platform to manipulate information about China and Chinese politics were actually anti-China groups (ibid., 2076).”

    Who did this research lol I’ve found sooooo many pro-ccp accounts on Twitter when the HK issue exploded last time

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Backgrounder

A Baby for Sale, a Mother Chained Up – How Chinese Netizens Are Pushing Specific Social Issues to the Forefront

The stories of Liu Xuezhou and the Xuzhou mother both developed in real-time while netizens pushed them to the front page, making them too big for state media to ignore.

Published

on

It only takes a spark to start a wildfire. From Liu Xuezhou to the Xuzhou mother, China’s online spheres have seen multiple major trending topics this year that started with one short video and then caused a social media storm with netizens highlighting and amplifying specific stories to address bigger social problems.

 
This is the “WE…WEI…WHAT?” column by Manya Koetse, original publication in German by Goethe Institut China, visit Yi Magazin: WE…WEI…WHAT? Manya Koetse erklärt das chinesische Internet.
 

It was December 6th of 2021 when a teenage boy posted a short video on Chinese social media. With a straight back, clear voice, and serious face, he looked directly into the camera and said:

Hello everyone, I am Liu Xuezhou and I am looking for my biological parents. I was born in between 2004 and 2006 and around the age of three months old, I was bought by my parents, my adoptive parents, in Datong in Shanxi. I am healthy. I don’t have any congenital physical defects or diseases; I don’t have any obvious birthmarks or scars. At the age of four, my adoptive parents passed away due to an accident. I am now living in Nangong, Xingtai, in Hebei Province. I study in Shijiazhuang. I wish I’d found my biological parents sooner, to make up for what I missed. I hope you can help me spread my message so that those who suspect they might be my parents can see it.

This video would be the start of a story followed by millions of Chinese netizens. It is the story of Liu Xuezhou (刘学州). The search for his parents and his death became one of the biggest topics on China’s social media of the past months.

Why did the tragic story of one teenage boy capture the entire nation? There are multiple reasons. By posting his call for help in finding his biological parents, Liu involved Chinese netizens in his journey from the start, allowing them to follow his story in real-time through his social media and news reports. Another aspect of Liu’s story is the resilience he showed despite his tough life, something that many admired about him.

But more importantly, Liu’s story is part of a recent broader interest in the stories behind the widespread problem of trafficking in women and children in China, with more people raising awareness on the tragedies caused by these practices and demanding justice for the victims.

Besides Liu’s story, the story of a Xuzhou mother-of-eight being tied up and living in abominable conditions in a shed also dominated online discussions for weeks on end.

 

Liu’s Story: Sold, Orphaned, Abandoned

 

After Liu Xuezhou posted the aforementioned video on Douyin, the Chinese version of the popular TikTok short video platform, it soon went viral and various Chinese news sites started reporting on Liu’s search for his biological family.

Liu’s resilience was impressive. In interviews, he said that his story did not define him and that he was determined to make something of his life. Since 2018, the young Liu was working to earn money while also going to school. His plan was to be admitted to university.

Liu Xuezhou, picture posted on his Weibo account.

After his adoptive parents died in a firework explosion, Liu was raised by his grandparents and was sent to boarding school. Liu’s childhood was not a happy one. Being so young without parents, he was a target of school bullies and had to change schools at least four times until, by grade six, he had finally found a school where he could thrive.

Many people supported Liu and wanted to help the teenage boy, who was thought to have been kidnapped as a baby and then bought by his adoptive parents through an intermediary at a Datong hotel for 30,000 yuan ($4735).

Although Liu’s birth certificate said he was born in September of 2005, nobody was sure how old Liu actually was, and his grandparents did not remember the details surrounding his adoption. By late 2021, as a 16-something-year-old, Liu felt it was time to get some answers and find his biological parents. How did he end up being adopted? Was he abducted? Were his parents still out there searching for him?

Through his own efforts – sped up by finding his vaccination records – and with some help of the police, Liu was able to trace down his biological parents. On the evening of December 15, Liu sent a message to a journalist reporting on the case: “I found my mum and dad.”

His parents’ story, however, was not what Liu had expected at all. After DNA tests confirmed that they were in fact his biological parents, Liu was ready to meet them. But what was supposed to be a happy reunion turned out to be a bitter disappointment.

Liu’s biological parents, who were living in Datong, were not together anymore. Liu soon learned that he had not been abducted as a child, but that he had been sold on purpose by his father. His parents were unmarried when they had him, and Liu’s father turned out to have used the money they earned by selling their baby to marry Liu’s birth mother. They married and had another son, but then ended up divorcing. Both remarried again, and Liu’s father even got divorced two more times after that.

Although some of the unhappy circumstances surrounding Liu’s reunion with his parents came out through his posts on social media throughout January of this year, most of the details surrounding his situation only became clear when Liu posted a farewell letter on his Weibo account on January 24th, just a few minutes past midnight.

Liu Xuezhou’s last Weibo post including a farewell letter.

Titled “Born with little, return with nothing,” Liu posted a lengthy letter explaining his situation.

In this letter, Liu said that besides being sold as a child and becoming an orphan at the age of four, he was also severely bullied by classmates and molested by a teacher at school. His aunt, whom he loved as a mother, also left him behind after she moved away due to a broken marriage.

As he spiraled into depression, Liu felt a spark of hope when he saw the news about Sun Zhuo (孙卓), whose story became one of the major trending news stories of 2021. In 2007, when Sun was only four, he was stolen off the street by a human trafficker. His biological parents never gave up hope they would find their son again and sacrificed everything to be able to fund their search efforts. The Chinese film Dearest (亲爱的) was partly based on their story.

After a years-long search, Sun was found in 2021 due to the help of authorities and face recognition technology that helped trace the person suspected of abducting him. In an unexpected twist, Sun stated that he would prefer to stay with his adoptive parents, who had raised him for a decade. The story triggered many online discussions and raised more awareness on the issue of the trafficking of children in China in times of the country’s one-child policy. Sun’s biological father spoke to the media saying: “For 2022, my biggest wish is that all the abducted children can finally be found.”

Image of the reunion of Sun Zhuo with his parents, who never stopped searching for him (image via Sohu).

It was Sun Zhuo’s story that inspired Liu to search for his own parents, and it was also Sun Zhuo’s story that brought more attention for Liu’s initial video, which struck a chord with many who hoped that he could also be reunited with his parents and actually stay with them.

Liu described how his biological father did not seem happy when Liu first contacted him, and seemed reluctant to meet. His biological father eventually did come to see him, but their communication afterward was not smooth. When his father told Liu that he was sold as a baby so that he could pay for the bride price to marry Liu’s mother, Liu was heartbroken and could not sleep for several days: he was not kidnapped, and his parents never searched for him.

Liu and his biological father on December 26, 2021.

His mother also was not elated that her biological son had found his way back to her. Liu felt unwanted, again, and was also searching for a home to live and was not sure who to turn to anymore. After he asked his biological father for help in buying or renting a place to live, he was blocked on WeChat. Liu then decided to take his parents to court.

Sharing screenshots on social media of the developments between him and his parents, Liu was condemned and bullied by netizens, who accused him of only wanting to find his biological parents for financial gains.

It was all too much for the teenage boy. In his farewell letter, he expressed the hope that the traffickers and biological parents would be punished for their deeds. Liu was later found to have committed suicide at a beach in the city of Sanya, and could no longer be rescued. Liu passed away within a month after meeting his biological parents at the age of just 15 years old.

By now, Liu’s farewell letter has been shared approximately 174,000 times on Weibo, it was ‘liked’ over 2,4 million times and has received thousands of comments.

The topic of Liu’s death exploded on social media and led to national outrage. Many people sympathized with the boy and were angry at all who failed him: “Poor child, abandoned and sold off by his parents, bullied and humiliated by his schoolmates, molested and discriminated by his teacher, cyberbullied by keyboard warriors. Now he’s dead!”

The injustice of Liu’s situation – starting with how he was sold as a child – is what angered people most. China Digital Times recently described how on the Weibo page of Dr. Li Wenliang, one of the doctors who raised the alarm about the coronavirus outbreak, many people also mention Liu Xuezhou. Dr. Li Wenliang was one of the eight so-called ‘whistleblowers’ who tried to warn his colleagues about the Wuhan virus outbreak in late 2019, but was censored and reprimanded by local police for making “false comments.” He later became infected with the virus himself while working at the Wuhan Central Hospital and passed away on February 7th of 2020, sparking a wave of anger and sadness on social media.

Illustration that went viral on social media at the time of Dr. Li’s death (read more here).

Over the past two years, Dr. Li’s Weibo page has become a digital Wailing Wall where people send little messages to remember Dr. Li, tell about their own anxieties and worries, but also address social injustices. As recorded by China Digital Times, one among thousands of comments said:

Two years ago today, I had a sleepless night because of you, and my Weibo account once got shut down because I posted something about you. Over the past two years, I’ve often wondered: will this world become a better place? But between the Liu Xuezhou incident and the woman in Xuzhou with eight kids, I’ve been disappointed time and time again. If you happen to see Liu Xuezhou, please be good to him.

Looking at Dr. Li’s Weibo account today, it is not just Liu Xuezhou who is brought up by commenters; ‘the woman in Xuzhou’ is also mentioned by dozens of people as someone experiencing injustice. But who is she?

 

The Chained-Up Mother in Xuzhou

 

In late January of 2022, right around the same time when Liu Xuezhou was one of the biggest topics on Chinese social media, a TikTok video showing a woman chained up in a shed went viral online and triggered massive outrage with thousands of people demanding answers about the woman’s circumstances.

The video, filmed by a local vlogger in the village of Huankou in Xuzhou, showed how the woman was kept in a dirty hut without a door in the freezing cold. She did not even wear a coat, and she seemed confused and unable to express herself.

Other TikTok videos that came out around the same time showed how the woman’s husband, a man by the name of Dong Zhimin (董志民), was playing and talking with their eight children in the family home right next to the hut where the mother was confined.

The video caused a storm on social media. Many netizens worried about the woman’s circumstances. Why was she chained up? Was she a victim of human trafficking? Was she being abused? How could she have had eight babies? Was she forced to have so many children? While netizens were speculating about the case and venting their anger, Weibo shut down some of the hashtags dedicated to this topic, but the topic soon popped up everywhere, and people started making artworks and writing essays in light of the case.

Following public demands, local authorities started looking into the case. An initial statement by Feng County, where the village of Huankou is located, was issued on January 28 and it said that the woman, named Yang (杨), married her husband in 1998 and that there was no indication that she was a victim of human trafficking.

The woman was dealing with mental problems and would display sudden violent outbursts, beating children and older people. The family allegedly thought it was best to separate her from the family home during these episodes, letting her stay chained up in a small hut next to the house.

The first statement raised more questions than it answered and more people, including influential Weibo bloggers and media insiders, started investigating the case. Meanwhile, it became clear that husband Dong Zhimin was giving interviews to other vloggers flocking to Huankou. Besides talking about his eight children (seven sons, one daughter) as future providers for the family, he also used his newly-acquired ‘fame’ to make money through social media. This only led to more online anger about Dong exploiting his wife and children.

Screenshots from the original Douyin (TikTok) video.

As the social media storm intensified, more official statements ensued. On January 30, Feng County local officials responded to the controversy in a second statement, in which the Xuzhou mother was identified as Yang *Xia (杨某侠) who allegedly once was “a beggar on the streets” in the summer of 1998 when she was taken in by Dong family and ended up marrying their 30-something son Dong Zhimin.

Local officials did not properly check and verify Yang’s identity information when registering the marriage certificate and the local family planning department also made errors in implementing birth control measures and following up with the family. The statement said that Yang had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was now receiving treatment.

A third, fourth, and even fifth statement issued by authorities on February 7th, 10th, and 23rd confirmed what many on Weibo had suspected all along, namely that Yang had indeed been a victim of human trafficking. Xuzhou authorities said their investigation had brought them to the village of Yagu in Yunnan, a place that was mentioned on Yang’s marriage certificate.

Yang was identified as Xiaohuamei (小花梅), born and raised in Yagu. Yang’s DNA had been compared to that of the family of Xiaohuamei, and the DNA match confirmed that Yang was indeed Xiaohuamei. According to the statements, Xiaohuamei married and moved to another city in 1994, but she divorced and returned to her village two years later, which is when she allegedly also showed signs of mental illness.

Her parents, now deceased, then allegedly ordered a female fellow villager to take their daughter to Jiangsu to get married there. According to the woman, she took Xiaohuamei with her on a train from Yunnan to Jiangsu’s Donghai, but she allegedly ‘went missing’ shortly after arrival. The woman never reported her as missing to the police and she never notified the family.

That woman, along with another man and Dong Zhimin, are now held criminally responsible for illegal detainment and human trafficking. Xiaohuamei was reportedly sold to a man in Donghai for 5,000 yuan ($790) in 1998. Though Xiaohuamei managed to escape, she was sold twice again, eventually ending up with the Dong family.

One of the many images shared on Chinese social media to raise awareness of the case of the Xuzhou mother and other women like her.

While details surrounding the case of the ‘chained Xuzhou mother of eight’ are still being discussed on Chinese social media, it has become clear that by now, ‘Yang’ has come to represent many more women like her. Over the past few weeks, the stories of other women who also might be a victim of human trafficking have surfaced, and the public outcry demanding justice for trafficked women is ongoing.

 

One Social Media Spark Starting a Wildfire

 

Both in the case of Liu Xuezhou and the Xuzhou mother, it should be noted that their stories initially did not catch the public’s attention because official news media reported them, but because of first-hand videos being posted on TikTok (Douyin) and then being picked up and shared by bigger accounts.

Both Liu’s video and the short video featuring the mother of eight were posted on accounts that were not necessarily very popular: starting as a small spark in an online environment with over 900 million social media users, they were shared, commented on, and then spread like wildfire.

Both stories developed in real-time while netizens were following the case, both stories eventually became too big for Chinese state media to ignore, and both Liu and Yang highlighted bigger social issues in contemporary China, mainly those relating to human trafficking.

Since these cases went viral, there has been a heightened focus on the problem of human trafficking, which mostly occurs in China’s poorer areas with weak governance. The trafficking of especially women and children has various purposes, including forced marriage and illegal adoption in areas where there is a shortage of women (along with a preference for baby boys).

China Daily recently reported that lawmakers and advisers are now pushing for heavier punishment for human trafficking crimes, suggesting that the current penalties imposed on the buyers of women and children are too weak; the maximum prison sentence for those who purchase abducted women and children is three years.

In the case of the Xuzhou mother, there has been online censorship but the ongoing intense public outrage eventually did lead to higher-level research into the case. The mother was rescued from her terrible situation, the human traffickers involved are being held responsible, and so are 17 officials, who will be punished by authorities for their wrongdoings in the case.

As for Liu Xuezhou, his adoptive family members have recently filed a request at the Sanya Public Security Bureau to launch another investigation into his case. Their request was accepted on February 23rd, with multiple people being suspected of criminal offenses, eventually leading to his death. On Weibo, many people are now demanding punishment for Liu’s biological parents.

In late January of this year, following the tragic ending to Liu’s story, Chinese state media1 emphasized how the widespread attention for these kinds of stories in the social media era is also changing how government agencies should interact with the public.

According to Dr. Liu Leming, associate professor at East China University’s Political Science faculty, government agencies need to follow up and respond more quickly to social incidents like these in the internet era: “When public issues emerge, people who are involved in social problems or incidents want to know, more than anything, whether their requests have been seen and who will handle their concerns.”

In light of these recent stories, the public is happy that actions have been taken, but they are not satisfied with how these cases were handled. Many argue that authorities have failed in being transparent, that local governments have not done enough to prevent these cases from happening, and that China should do more to put an end to human trafficking.

And so, they are still posting the stories of children like Liu and women like Xiaohuamei to keep raising awareness and to keep pressuring local authorities and lawmakers to take more action to eradicate these practices.

As Liu is no longer alive and Xiaohuamei, still hospitalized, cannot defend herself, Chinese netizens keep raising their voices for them. In doing so, they have not just impacted how authorities dealt with these specific cases, but they are also changing how cases such as these will be handled in the future.

One Weibo user discussing Liu and the Xuzhou mother wrote: “We need to get to the bottom of these kinds of stories: who is to blame, who made mistakes, and where do we go from here?”

In the meantime, online posts, videos, and artworks honor both Liu and Xiaohuamei, so that their stories will not be forgotten. “Dear little one, springtime has come,” one among thousands of messages still flooding Liu Xuezhou’s Weibo page says: “You have endured too many things that you should have never experienced. It should have been us, the adults, taking care of these things for you. You please go and rest now, we will finish the rest for you.”

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

For information and support on mental health and suicide, international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

1 Cao Yin and Li Yang. 2022. “Policymakers, Lawmakers Respond to Opinion Voiced Online.” China Daily Hong Kong, January 28, Page 1-2.

Featured image by Ama for Yi Magazin.

This text was written for Goethe-Institut China under a CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE license (Creative Commons) as part of a monthly column in collaboration with What’s On Weibo.

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Backgrounder

Full Translation of Peng Shuai’s Weibo Post and Timeline of Events

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Over the past seven weeks, the whereabouts and safety of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai have been a matter of constant concern in international (social) media. Here is a timeline of events and a full translation of the Weibo post by Peng Shuai – where it all began.

On the night of November 2nd of 2021, a Weibo post by the 35-year-old Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (彭帅) sent shockwaves across social media. In her lengthy post, the three-time Olympian describes details surrounding an alleged affair she had with the 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli (张高丽), who served as China’s senior Vice-Premier (2013-2018) and was also a member of China’s highest ruling council, the Politburo Standing Committee (2012-2017).

Here, we will give you a short timeline of the things that unfolded from the moment Peng Shuai’s story was published on Weibo, as well as providing the full text of her post and a translation.

 

Timeline of Events

 

November 2nd, 2021

On the night of November 2nd of 2021, 35-year-old tennis player Peng Shuai posts her story on her Weibo account, where she has over 590,000 followers. The post comes online at 22:07 and is sent through a mobile phone.

Although Peng’s post was only online for about twenty minutes before it was deleted, its impact was irreversible. Peng Shuai’s Weibo account remained online, but the name ‘Peng Shuai’ started to be censored on Weibo and other Chinese social media platforms, where online discussions about the tennis player and Zhang Gaoli were soon silenced. Peng Shuai’s post and the ensuing silence triggered a wave of global concern about her wellbeing and whereabouts.

 
November 3, 2021

Peng Shuai’s story makes headlines in the international media, with many Western media outlets describing the issue as a “#MeToo allegation.” within the context of the global #MeToo movement, suggesting Peng’s post was a “MeToo post.” The tennis star did not mention ‘#Metoo’ in her own writings.

 
November 16, 2021

Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka attracts more international attention for Peng’s whereabouts when she posts the #WhereisPengShuai hashtag on Twitter. Two days later, tennis star Serena Williams also writes on Twitter: “I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent.”

 
November 17, 2021

While the issue is still completely silenced in Chinese (social) media, the English-language state media outlet CGTN addresses the commotion on Twitter on November 17, when they share a screenshot of an email allegedly sent by Peng to WTA Chairman Steve Simon, saying she was not actually missing and not unsafe.

 
November 19, 2021

While many people still raised their concerns on Twitter – and a White House spokesperson even said the Biden administration was ‘deeply concerned’ about the reports alleging that Peng Shuai had gone missing – photos of Peng Shuai in her home showed up on November 19th, posted on Twitter by Chinese journalist Shen Shiwei (沈诗伟) claiming the tennis star posted them on her WeChat moments herself.

 
November 20, 2021

One day later, a video was also shared on Twitter by the same Shen, showing Peng enjoying dinner with friends and having conversations in which it was clearly indicated that the date was November 20, 2021.

 
November 21, 2021

During that very same weekend of November 20-21, Peng also reappeared in public when she attended the Junior Tennis Finals in Beijing. This was also the very first time in 19 days that she ‘reappeared’ in mainland China’s online media spheres, where photos of her attendance at the games were also shared online.

On that same day, it was announced by the Olympics governing body that International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach held a 30-minute long video phone call with Peng Shuai. Chinese sports official Li Lingwei and the Chair of the Athletes’ Commission, Emma Terho, reportedly were also on the call, during which Peng explained that she was safe and well at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected.

 
November 22, 2021

A Weibo post published by the French embassy in Beijing marks the first time for Peng Shuai’s case to be addressed on Chinese social media.

In their post, the French embassy expresses concerns about the lack of information surrounding Peng Shuai, and reiterates its belief in promoting freedom of expression, equality between men and women, and combating sexual and gender-based violence. The post receives many replies, but its comment section is heavily censored.

 
December 1st, 2021

The WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) announces the suspension of all tournaments in China amid concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai.

In a statement by Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO, the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, was said to also be related to concerns about risks that all players and staff could face if the WTA were to hold events in China in 2022.

Due to the Covid19 situation, there were no WTA events scheduled for China in the near future.

 
December 7, 2021

The US announces a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. American athletes will still compete at the Winter Games. Although this boycott was not necessarily directed linked to Peng Shuai, many media outlets did connect it to concerns over the tennis player.

 
December 19, 2021

In an interview with Singapore-based media outlet Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报), Peng Shuai claims she did not accuse Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her.

A video issued by Lianhe Zaobao shows a reporter asking Peng questions during a skiing competition event in Shanghai, where Peng could be seen talking to Chinese basketball player Yao Ming. When the reporter asks Peng if she is free, she answers that she has always been free and is not being monitored.

When the reporter addresses the allegations of sexual assault, Peng says:

First and foremost, I must emphasize. I have never said or written about anyone sexually assaulting me. That’s a very important point. On the Weibo post, that’s my personal issue.”

Peng also confirms that the English email that was screenshotted and published by CGTN on November 17 was written by her in the Chinese version, but that it was translated into English for her since her English language skills aren’t good enough to write such an email herself.

 

Full Text Translation of Peng Shuai’s Weibo Post

 

In a previous post, What’s on Weibo gave a partial translation of Peng’s Weibo post. Here, we will provide a full translation. Please note that this is a translation provided by What’s on Weibo and not an official translation issued by any other party.

 

我知道说不清楚,说了也没有用。但还是想说出来。我是多么的虚伪不堪,我承认我不是一个好女孩,很坏很坏的女孩。大概三年前张高丽副总理你退休了,找天津网球中心的刘大夫再联系到我,约我打球,在北京的康铭大厦。上午打完球,你和妻子康洁一起带我去了你们家。然后把我带进你家的房间,和十多年前在天津时一样,要和我发生性关系。

I know I can’t say it clearly and that it’s useless to say. But I want to say it anyway. I’m such a hypocrite. I’ll admit I’m not a good girl, I’m a bad bad girl. About three years ago, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you had retired and asked Dr. Liu from the Tianjin Tennis Center to contact me again to play tennis at the Kang Ming Hotel in Beijing. After we finished playing in the afternoon, you and your wife Kang Jie took me with you to your home. You then took me to your room, and like what happened in Tianjin over ten years ago, you wanted to have sex with me.

那天下午我很怕,根本没想到会是这样,一个人在外帮守着,因为谁都不可能相信老婆会愿意。七年前我们发生过一次性关系,然后你升常委去北京就再没联系过我。原本埋藏了一切在心里,既然你根本不打算负责,为何还要回来找我,带我去你家逼我和你发生关系?是我没有证据,也根本不可能留下证据。后来你一直否认,可确是你先喜欢的我,否则我也不可能接触的到你。

I was very scared that afternoon, I had not expected things to go this way, someone was guarding outside,1 because nobody would believe that a wife would allow this. Seven years earlier we had sexual relations once, and then you – promoted as a member of the Standing Committee – went to Beijing and never contacted me again. I had buried it all inside me, and since you were not planning on taking responsibility at all, why did you come and look for me again, take me to your house, and force me [逼 = force, press for] into sex? I have no proof, and it would be impossible for me to keep any evidence. You denied everything afterward, but it is true that you liked me first, or otherwise, I wouldn’t have had a way to come into contact with you.

那天下午我原本没有同意一直哭,晚饭是和你还有康洁阿姨一起吃的,你说宇宙很大很大,地球就是宇宙的一粒沙,我们人类连一粒沙都没有,还说了很多很多,就是让我放下思想包袱。晚饭后我也并不愿意,你说恨我!又说你这七年从未忘记过我,会对我好等等……我又怕又慌带着七年前对你的情感同意了……是的就是我们发生性关系了。

That afternoon I originally did not agree and cried the whole time, and I still had dinner with you and auntie Kang Jie together. You said the universe is so big, that the earth is just a grain of sand in the universe, and that we as mankind are not even a grain of sand, and you said a lot more to alleviate the load on my mind. After dinner I still did not want to, and you said you hated me! You also said that in these seven years, you never forgot me and that you would be good for me etc etc. I was afraid and panicked and carrying the emotions of seven year ago, I agreed…yes, we had sex.

感情这东西很复杂,说不清,从那日后我再次打开了对你的爱,后来与你相处的日子里,单从你人相处你是一个很好很好的人,对我也挺好,我们从近代历史聊到远古时代,你同我讲万物的知识再谈到经济哲学,聊不完的话题。一起下棋,唱歌,打乒乓球,桌球,包括网球我们永远可以打得不亦乐乎,性格是那么的合得来好像一切都很搭。

The feelings between two people can be very complicated, I can’t clearly explain, [but] after that day I again began to open up to your love. In the days I interacted with you afterward, purely from how we got along, you were a very good person and also treated me well. We would talk about anything from modern history to ancient times, you spoke to me about so much knowledge and talked about economic philosophy, [we had] endless talks about topics. We played chess together, sang songs, played ping pong, billiards, and, including tennis, we could always have a good time. Our personalities got along well together, it looked like we were a great match.

自小离家早,内心极度缺爱,面对发生这一切,我从不认为我一个好女孩,我恨我自己,恨我为什么要来到这个世界,经历这一劫。你同我说你爱我,很爱很爱,来生希望在你二十岁我十八岁时我们就遇见。你说你很孤独,一个人很可怜,我们有聊不完的天,讲不完的话,你说你这个位置没有办法离婚,如果你在山东时认识,还可以离婚,可是现在没有办法。我想过默默无闻就这样陪着你,开始还好,可是日子久了慢慢的变了,太多的不公与侮辱。每次你让我去,背着你你妻子对我说过多少难听侮辱的话,各种冷嘲嘲讽。我说喜欢吃鸭舌,康洁阿姨会冲着我说~咿真恶心。冬天北京雾霾我说有时候空气不太好,康洁阿姨会对我说,那是你们郊区,我们这儿没感觉。等等诸如类似的话说了很多很多,你在时候她不这样说,好像和我们一样,两个人相处时是一个样,有旁人时你对我又是一个样。我同你说过,这些话听多了心里特别难受委屈。

Since I left home early in my childhood, I felt a lack of love in my heart. Facing everything that was happening, I never thought I was a good girl. I really hated myself, hated why I had to come into this world and experience this disaster. You told me that you loved me, very very much, and that in the next life you hoped to meet me when you are 20 and I am 18 years old. You said you were very lonely, that you felt miserable, we had days of endless chats, endless talks, you said there was no way for you to divorce in your position, that if we’d met while you were in Shandong, you could have still divorced, but that there was no way now. I thought about staying with you like this without attracting public attention, which was okay in the beginning, but the days slowly started to change, and there was too much injustice and insult. Every time you let me go, your wife would say many offensive insulting words to me behind your back, [giving me] all kinds of sneers. When I said I like to eat duck tongue, auntie Kang Jie would go and say ~ ugh, how disgusting. During Beijing’s winter smog, I said sometimes the air is not very good, and auntie Kang Jie would tell me ‘that’s just your suburbs, we do not notice a thing here.’ And so on, there were many of such talks, but she would never do it when you were there. It was similar to when we were together – when it was just the two of us you’d be this way, when there were others there you’d act that way. I told you that these kinds of words were really painful to hear.

从认识你第一天到现在没用过你一分钱,更没通过你某去过任何利益或者好出,可名分这东西真重要。这一切我活该,自取其辱。从头到尾你都是一直让我保密和你的一切关系,更不可以告诉我妈和你有男女关系,因为每次都是她送我去西什库教堂那儿,然后换你家的车才能进院里。她一直以为我是去打麻将打牌,去你家玩。我们在彼此的生活中都是真实生活中的一个透明人,你的妻子好像甄嬛传的皇后一样,而我无法形容自己多么的不堪,很多时候我觉得我自己还是一个人吗?我觉得自己是一个行尸走肉,装,每一天都在装,哪个我才是真的我?我不该来到这个世界,可又没有勇气去死。我好想可以活的简单点,可事与愿违。

From the first day I met you up to today, I’ve never used a penny of yours, and I’ve never used you for any personal benefits, but a person’s status is very important. I deserved all of this, I courted disaster. From beginning to end, you have always asked me to keep my relationship with you secret, let alone tell my mother that we were in a relationship. Every time she brought me to the Xishiku cathedral, I would have to change to your car to be able to enter the courtyard. She always thought I was going to your place to play mahjong and cards. We were transparent individuals in each other’s lives. Your wife seemed like the Empress in Empresses of the Palace (甄嬛传), and I can’t describe how bad I felt, and how many times I wondered if I was still an actual person myself. I felt like a zombie, I was pretending so much every day that I didn’t know who the real me was anymore. I shouldn’t have come into this world, but I didn’t have the courage to die. I wanted to live a simpler life, but things turned out contrary to what I wanted.”

30号那天晚上争议很大,你说2号下午再去你家我们慢慢谈,今天中午打电话来说有事再联系,推脱一切,借口说改天再联系……,就这样和七年前一样“消失了”,玩玩想不要就不要了。你说我们之间没有任何交易,是,我们之间的感情和钱,权利没有任何关系,可这三年的感情我无处安放,难以面对。你总怕我带什么录音器,留下证据什么的。是的,除我以外我没留下证据证明,没有录音,没有录像,只有被扭曲的我的真实经历。我知道对于您位高权重的张高丽副总理来说,你说过你不怕。但即使是以卵击石,飞蛾扑火自取灭亡的我也会说出和你的事实。以你的智商某略你一定否认或者可以反扣给我,你可以如此玩世不恭。你总说希望你母亲在天可以保佑你,我是一个坏女孩不配为人母,你为人父也有儿有女,我问过你就算是你的养女你会逼她这么做吗?你今生做的这一切日后心安理得的去面对你的母亲吗?我们都很道貌岸然……

There was a big dispute on the night of the 30th [October], and you told me to come to your place on the afternoon of the 2nd [November] so we could talk things over. Today a phone call came that something had come up and you’d contact me again. Evading everything, with the excuse that we would get in touch another day ……, this is the same “disappearing act” as seven years ago, getting rid of me after you’re done playing with me. You said there were no transactions between us, that’s true, with all the feelings and money between us, it had nothing to do with power and wealth. But I have nowhere to leave my feelings of the past three years, it’s very hard to face. You were always afraid that I would bring some kind of recorder and leave evidence or something. Apart from myself, there is indeed no evidence left, no recordings, no videos, only my distorted real experiences. I know that for someone of your status, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you’ve said that you’re not afraid. But even it’s like striking a stone with an egg, and courting self-destruction like a moth to the flame, I will tell the truth about you. With your intelligence, I’m certain you will deny it or you can blame it on me, or disregard it. You always said you hoped your mother in heaven could bless and protect you. I am a bad woman who doesn’t deserve to be a mother, but you are a father with both a son and a daughter. I have asked you this before: if it was your adopted daughter, would you have forced her to do this? Do you still have the courage to face your mother after everything you’ve done in your lifetime? We sure all like to pose as people with high morals…

 

By Manya Koetse

1 There’s been some discussions on the correct translation of this part of the sentence (“一个人在外帮守着”). One of our readers suggested translating it as “an outsider fending for herself,” although others dispute that translation. “A person guarding outside” is another way to translate this sentence: “I was very scared that afternoon, I had not expected things to go this way, a person on guard outside, because nobody would believe that a wife would allow this.”

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