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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.



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.


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

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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 Health & Science

Chinese Student Forced to Undergo “Fake Surgery” and Borrow Money While Lying on the Operating Table

The 17-year-old girl from Shaanxi underwent surgery for no reason at all, without her parents’ consent.



The story of a 17-year-old girl who was forced to undergo a “fake surgery” at Shaanxi’s Ankang Xing’an Hospital has gone viral on Chinese social media.

One of the netizens to break the story on social media is the Weibo user @QinguanSihai (@秦观四海, 90,000+ followers), who posted about the incident on October 6.

According to the post, the incident occurred on October 4 when a young woman named Lu went online to seek medical attention because she was not feeling well. Since there was an available spot for a medical consultation at the private Ankang Xing’an Hospital, Lu went to see a doctor there.

While she was at the hospital in the city of Ankang, the woman allegedly was directly taken to the operating room and placed on the operating table after a short consultation; not for a medical examination, but for surgery.

The girl initially thought she was undergoing a routine medical check. As the surgery was already underway, the doctor stopped to let Lu sign some papers and then asked her if she could gather the money to pay for her medical procedure. When Lu protested and demanded to get off the surgery table, the doctor warned her that she was losing blood and that interrupting the procedure would be life-threatening.

Lying on the operating table, Lu called some of her friends to gather the money, all the while being pressured by the doctor that the money she had (1200 yuan/$185) was not enough to cover for the costs of surgery – which was still ongoing. The doctor allegedly even told Lu to get more money via the Alipay ‘Huabei’ loaning app.

Lu’s parents, who were contacted by concerned friends, soon showed up at the hospital as the doctor hastily ended the surgery. The parents, who were furious to discover their underage daughter had undergone a medical procedure without their consent, became even more upset when they later found out that Lu had undergone surgery to remove cervical polyps, while Lu’s medical reports showed that she actually had no cervical polyps at all. No reason could be found for their healthy daughter to have been operated on her cervix.

After Lu’s story went viral on social media, local authorities quickly started an investigation into the matter and soon confirmed that the story was real. An initial statement said that Angkang Xing’an Hospital is at fault for performing surgery on a minor without the consent of a guardian or parent. It was also recognized that the hospital has committed serious ethical violations. The hospital, located on 78 Bashan Middle Road (巴山中路), is now temporarily closed, and the doctor in question has since been fired.

Many Chinese netizens are angered about the incident, calling private hospitals such as Ankang Xing’an a “disgrace” to China’s healthcare industry.

This is by no means the first time that malpractices at Chinese local hospitals or clinics trigger online controversy. Various incidents that previously went viral show how some clinics put commercial interests above the health of their patients, and how some doctors think they can get away with abusing and scamming their patients.

In 2016, the death of the 21-year-old cancer patient Wei Zexi (魏则西) sparked online outrage. Wei Zexi, who shared his medical experiences on social media, spent 200,000 RMB to receive contested form of immunotherapy at the Beijing Armed Police Corps No. 2 Hospital (武警二院). The treatment, that was promoted on China’s leading search engine Baidu, was actually completely ineffective and the advertising for it was false.

By now, one hashtag relating to the Ankang incident has received over 270 million views on Weibo (#官方通报无病女生被推上手术台#), with other relating hashtags also circulating on social media (#家属回应无病女学生被迫手术#, #无病女学生被推上手术台涉事医院停业整顿#).

“This can’t be a real hospital, right?!” some worried netizens write, with others expressing the hopes that the medical institution will be severely punished for their wrongdoings.

By Manya Koetse

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China Local News

Humans Fight at Beijing Wildlife Park, “Setting the Wrong Example” for the Animals

When the humans started fighting at this Beijing zoo, the animals followed suit.



A fight between visitors of the Beijing Wildlife Park has gone viral on Chinese social media. The altercation happened on the afternoon of August 7 at the Wildlife Park in the Daxing District.

According to the WeChat account of the Beijing Wildlife Park, the fight erupted after two visitors had a dispute over something trivial. Their clash initially was only a verbal one, but soon turned physical.

A video of the incident published on Weibo by Beijing Life (@北京生活) shows that at least six people were involved in the fight, which included hair pulling, kicking, tearing clothes, and slapping. Even the people who were already lying on the ground still continued wrestling and kicking.

Not just children stood by during the altercation, many animals also witnessed the dramatic fight. Some netizens said the incident took place near the gorilla area.

Although local security guards were able to calm the fighting parties down and settle the matter, the violent altercation allegedly had some unexpected consequences.

According to the park statement (#园方回应动物效仿游客打架#), this was the first time for the park animals to witness such a fight between humans. For some animals, the event apparently left such an impression that they also started fighting together that same night.

The Beijing Wildlife conveyed how the humans had set a bad example for the animals, writing that the animals imitated them and that their fighting was “out of control.”

The park also writes that zookeepers stepped in, letting the animals know that “fighting is bad”, “really bad.”

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan) and Miranda Barnes

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