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Tianjin Woman Running Balloon-Shooting Booth Sentenced To 3.5 Years in Prison

The case of a middle-aged woman from Tianjin who has recently been sentenced to 3,5 years in prison for running a balloon-shooting booth has angered Chinese netizens. As many were not aware the airgun game was illegal, some wonder if all Chinese are ‘law-blind’ now.

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The case of a middle-aged woman from Tianjin who has recently been sentenced to 3,5 years in prison for running a balloon-shooting booth has angered Chinese netizens. As many are very familiar with the well-known and innocuous game, some wonder if “all Chinese” are “law-blind” now.

Balloon-shooting is a popular game in China. Recently, however, a middle-aged woman running a balloon-shooting booth in Tianjin was sentenced to prison for the illegal possession of guns.

Zhao Chunhua, a 51-year-old woman, was running a street balloon-shooting booth in Tianjin from August to October 2016 when she was arrested for the “criminal possession of weapons.” On December 27, she was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison.

Upon Zhao’s arrest, the police found 9 gun-shaped objects and plastic bullets in her booth. Investigations revealed that 6 of the balloon “guns” were real airguns capable of shooting metal bullets.

According to Zhao Chunhua’s daughter, however, her mother was unaware of the existence of real airguns. “I’ve been to mother’s booth and I touched those guns… they were just toy guns”, the daughter told Chinese media: “We always thought they were toy guns. If she would have known they were real guns, she would not had even touched them.”

There are many balloon-shooting booths in Tianjin, and it is common practice to use airsoft guns (软气枪) which can only shoot plastic bullets.

Zhao’s balloon-shooting “booth”: a shooting board on a tricycle

Zhao, who is divorced, lived together with her daughter in a 10 square meter room. In August, Zhao bought a “booth” consisting of a tricycle with a shooting board and some small prices, and started her business. Working in the evenings from 20:00 to 24:00, Zhao made around 2000-3000 RMB (±$300-400) per month.

Zhao’s balloon-shooting “booth”: a shooting board on a tricycle.

Zhao’s balloon-shooting “booth”: a shooting board on a tricycle.

In the beginning, Zhao Chunhua refused to appeal her sentence, worrying that hiring a lawyer would cost too much money. But her daughter insisted and has now quit her job to fully concentrate on her mother’s law suit.

Two lawyers, Xu Xin (professor at a Beijing University) and Si Weijiang (Shanghai-based lawyer), have offered to defend Zhao. After communicating with her lawyers, Zhao launched an appeal on January 3rd of this year.

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On social media, Chinese netizens sympathize with Zhao and are furious about the court’s decision. Many believe the punishment is far too harsh for common unknowing citizens.

“Since when did airsoft guns become prohibited? We are probably all ‘law-blind’ now, ” one netizen writes: “I remember a decade ago, balloon-shooting was a really popular game in towns and counties; did they all break the law?”

Many people are especially angered because of another incident, that involved the heartbreaking video of a weeping girl holding her killed dog. The man who shot the dog with an airgun was merely sentenced to six days in prison.

“If an old lady sets up an illegal booth she is sentenced to three years, if a guard kills a dog he is sentenced to six days,” one confused Weibo user said.

Some netizens say that law enforcement is too “blunt”: “This is an apparent case of improper law enforcement,” another netizen comments: “Since the 1960s, balloon-shooting has been legal entertainment in China. It is not illegal unless it causes damage to people. Police can take the illegal guns, and issue a reasonable fine. Talking about lethality, Zhao’s airsoft guns are less dangerous than cooking knives… the court should then arrest everyone with a cooking knife.”

-By Diandian Guo
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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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China Local News

Children of Hubei Medical Workers to Receive 10 Extra Points on High School Enrolment Examination

Hubei officials announced a controversial measure to reward frontline medical workers.

Manya Koetse

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Image via xjdkctz.com.

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Hubei authorities announced new measures on Tuesday to encourage and support the work of Hubei’s front-line medical workers during the coronavirus crisis.

One of these measures, rewarding the children of medical staff an extra ten points in their zhongkao examination, became a somewhat controversial top trending topic on Chinese social media today.

The zhongkao is an important academic examination in China taken during the last year of junior high school, right before entering education institutions at the senior high school level. These enrollment examinations are held annually in June or July, depending on the region.

A good mark on the exam is of crucial importance for many students, as it will give them admission to their preferred senior high school, which then could have more profound effects on their education after high school and their further career.

According to the new policy, children of Hubei’s medical workers would be rewarded with ten extra points on top of their overall score for the exams if they take it. Since the exams are highly competitive, every extra point could mean a world of difference since it will mean leaving hundreds of other students behind you.

On Weibo, one announcement of the new measure published by Chinese news source The Paper received over 938.000 likes and more than 11.000 comments. Many Weibo users do not agree with the policy.

“It should be the medical workers themselves who are rewarded through promotion or a salary increase,” a top comment says: “It shouldn’t be their children who are rewarded.”

Although a majority of commenters say that medical workers should be given special rewards in these times of hardships, most also agree that rewarding their children in their exam results is not the way to go. “This only makes the exam system more unfair,” a recurring comment says.

With 610 million views at the time of writing, the hashtag “The kids of Hubei frontline medical staff will get extra 10 points on zhongkao score” (#湖北一线医务人员子女中考加10分#) is one of the most-dicussed topics on Weibo of the day.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
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©2020 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

Sudden Ground Collapse at Metro Station in Xiamen

A sudden collapse occurred near Xiamen’s Lucuo station, just two weeks after a similar incident took place in Guangzhou.

Manya Koetse

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In the evening of December 12, Xiamen’s Lvcuo (Lǚcuò 吕厝) metro station became a breaking news topic in Chinese media after a ground collapse incident occurred at a nearby intersection, followed by a major flood in the Xiamen subway.

Xiamen, Fujian Province, is one of China’s major coastal cities. According to Xiamen Metro News, the collapse happened at 21:52 local time.

At time of writing, rescue teams are still investigating the scene. It is unclear if people have been trapped or injured due to the collapse.

An apparent dashcam video shared by Sina News and People’s Daily on Weibo shows the moment right before the sudden collapse.

The video captures how the road is relatively busy at the time of collapsing, and at least one car can be seen crashing into the sinkhole.

Other footage shows that the Xiamen metro line is currently flooded (also see video in this tweet).

The scene of the collapse at 0:10 local time.

The metro station where this incident occurred is relatively new. Xiamen’s metro line was first opened in late December 2017.

Just two weeks ago, another major ground collapse accident occurred at the construction site of a metro line in Guangzhou. Three people remain missing after the incident.

On Thursday night local time, the Xiamen metro collapse was the number one trending topic on social media platform Weibo. Many netizens commenting on the incident express worries about the safety of roads and construction sites in China.

Update (Dec 13): According to the latest Chinese media reports, the drivers of two cars who were at the scene at the moment of the ground collapse have both been recused. One female pedestrian who also fell into the sinkhole is receiving medical treatment..

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

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