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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 Insight

Pet Hotels are Booming Business in Beijing

Chinese pet lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet a comfortable stay at one of Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ (宠物酒店).

Qing Yan

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The success of luxurious pet lodging in Beijing has become especially apparent over the past October holiday. Chinese animal lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet the time of their lives while they are out of town.

For loving pet owners, before heading out on a holiday, finding a trustworthy pet lodge is often just as important as finding a comfortable hotel for themselves. And nowadays, both should be booked as early as possible during a holiday season.

In Beijing, the booming business of pet lodging was especially noticeable during the Golden Week holiday. Various Chinese media reported that pet hotels in Beijing have become so popular that they were already fully booked a month before the holiday started.

This is also what Zhang Wen, a local pet lodge owner, told Beijing Youth Daily (@北京青年报). He and his colleagues are specialized in tending to every possible need of Beijing’s household pets while their families are taking a holiday.

Some pet hotels now charge as high as 900 RMB (±136$) per day to lodge a pet. The pet lodging business is quickly expanding across Beijing. Some local residents now also improvise lodging facilities in their private homes, asking approximately 30-50 RMB (±5-8$) per day.

With a growing demand for comfortable lodges for family pets, Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ are increasingly competitive. Some offer private rooms for dogs and assign a member of staff for every pet to look after its diet, sanitation, cleaning, and exercise.

Some pet hotels are even equipped with sporting, beauty, bathing, and water purification facilities, resembling a five-star hotel. Non-traditional pets such as spiders and lizards are also welcome, as long as their owners clarify their routines in advance.

Criticism on luxurious pet hotels

On Weibo, the topic “Luxurious Pet Hotel Charges 900 RMB Per Day” (#豪华宠物酒店900一天#) received some 15 million views this October.

The news, which was first reported by Beijing Youth Daily, stirred discussions on social media. Although many people find the pet hotels cute or funny, there are also many who comment that this kind of extravagance for pets painfully points out the rich-poor divide in China.

“Dogs are living a better life than us humans now,” some said: “I can’t even stay at a hotel that is this expensive.”

One netizen sarcastically commented: “If you can’t afford housing in Beijing, just go and become a pet to someone here.”

Some even find the boom in luxurious pet hotels a worrying trend, saying “this will intensify the social conflicts.”

Besides the extravagant pet spoiling, there are also other reasons why netizens criticize the spread of fancy pet lodging. On social media, questions over epidemic issues are also surfacing.

Some companies that were interviewed by Chinese media failed to show any credentials for providing lodging services and had no in-house veterinary to offer health examinations for the pets taken in; China currently does not have a specific national legal framework nor corresponding regulatory measures for qualified pet lodgings.

By Qing Yan

Edited by Manya Koetse.
©2017 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

China’s ‘Wedding of the Year’ Is the Talk of the Day on Weibo

This rich second generation “fu’erdai” couple just celebrated China’s wedding of the year in Wenzhou.

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Although many still think of Angelababy and Huang Xiaoming when talking about ‘China’s biggest wedding’, this fu’erdai couple have just celebrated a wedding that is even more extravagant.

See our latest Weivlog on this Wenzhou wedding of the year, which became one of top trending topics on Weibo on October 11, here:

By Manya Koetse

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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