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Typhoon Doksuri and Torrential Rains in China: Local Heroes Highlighted Amid Flooding and Chaos

In the face of powerlessness in the storm, it is the stories of people bravely taking control that offer a ray of light during darker times.

Manya Koetse



The devastating rain that caused havoc in Fujian, Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin, and beyond this week has been trending all over Chinese social media. Amid all the reports, the stories of those emergency workers and local residents risking their own safety to rescue others are highlighted by media outlets and are collectively shared by social media users.

The powerful Typhoon Doksuri has become a major trending topic on Chinese social media these days after leaving behind a trail of enormous damage.

The typhoon, that started in the Philippines, first created havoc in Taiwan before it reached mainland China’s Fujian Province on July 28 and then passed through the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region (Weibo hashtag “Major Rains in Districts Across Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei” #京津冀部分地区特大暴雨#, 81.3 million views).

In Beijing, Mentougou and Fangshan District were hit especially hard as torrential rains, amounting to an average of 300 mm rainfall in just 42 hours, caused various problems (hashtag “Mentougou Torrential Rain” #门头沟暴雨#, 320 million clicks).

The highest rainfall was recorded at the Miaofengshan scenic area in Mentougou, where a staggering 580.9 mm rainfall was recorded between 8pm on the 29th to 2pm on the 31st.

Meanwhile, local authorities issues various alerts, from Beijing’s red alert for floods (#北京升级发布洪水红色预警#) that was issued on the 31st of July to Tianjin upgrading the city’s flood emergency response to the highest level in the early morning of August 1st.

See this X [Twitter] thread for more videos showing the situation in Beijing.

On Monday, the typhoon left passengers of two trains (K396, Z180) stranded due to the closure of the railway tracks caused by water damage. A total of 1870 stranded passengers had to be evacuated.

They were by far not the only ones facing evacuation. In Fujian alone, over 350,000 people had to evacuate, and in Beijing, thousands of people were also forced to leave their homes.

By Tuesday, the death toll of the storm rose to 11 in Beijing, with 27 people still missing. In Hebei, at least 9 people died in the storm, and 6 people are still missing.

Amidst all the Chinese online media coverage of the situation, it is particularly the stories highlighting heroic acts of local residents and rescue workers that are being promoted by official channels and applauded by netizens.

Xinhua News agency initiated one social media hashtag by the name of “Saluting the Ordinary Heroes in the Typhoon” (#致敬台风中的平凡英雄#).

Another hashtag, which ranked no 3 in top trending lists on Tuesday, is “Saluting Those Who Swim Against the Tide during Torrential Rains” (#致敬那些暴雨中的逆行者#).

The word used in this hashtag is nìxíngzhě (逆行者), “the ones going against the tide.” This term, describing those who go beyond their call of duty, has been used by state media since early 2020, and initially mainly referred to frontline workers and individuals who made a significant contribution or sacrifice during China’s initial battle against Covid-19 (see 2020 Top 10 Buzzwords in China). It has now become more commonly used to refer to anyone who goes above and beyond to help others.

Quanzhou Blue Sky Rescue Worker Passes Away after Evacuating Residents

The 53-year-old rescue worker Chen Yuansheng (陈元生) rushed to the scene in Nan’an in Fujian’s Quanzhou to aid trapped residents in evacuating during the storm and heavy rainfall. Chen was a member of the local Blue Sky Rescue Team.

The Blue Sky Rescue Team (蓝天救援队) is a professional non-profit search-and-rescue organization with more than 30,000 registered volunteers. Founded in 2007, it is China’s largest nonprofit civil rescue organization.

During the rescue operation, Chen became unwell and had to be rushed to the hospital, where he tragically passed away on the evening of July 29. Team members stated that Chen had been physically exhausted. According to several Chinese media reports about his passing, Chen was so dedicated to the rescue efforts that his final messages were solely focused on the ongoing operation and not on his own condition.

Although the exact cause of death was not officially reported, Chen’s death is described as a “sacrifice” in the eye of the storm (#蓝天救援队员抗击台风时牺牲#).

Beijing Man Rescues Family of Three

A video of a man in Beijing rescuing three people with his front-end loader has also gone viral these days and was republished by various Chinese media outlets (#小哥开铲车自发救援帮助多人脱困#).

The footage, shot by a local resident from a higher vantage point, captures the efforts of a man using a front-end loader to rescue three individuals. The man single-handedly maneuvers the loader, crossing a flooded bridge to reach a stranded family.

The family, comprising two adults and a child, wastes no time climbing into the loader’s bucket as soon as it is lifted high enough for their safe boarding. With everyone on board, including the pet dog, the driver steers the loader to evacuate them from danger.

This man is now being hailed as an “ordinary hero” who selflessly risked his own safety to come to the aid of others.

Electricity Workers in the Rain

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua also highlighted the electricity workers who, despite of the heavy rain and tough working conditions, went out to fix the electricity in Hebei’s Baoding on Monday (#暴雨致村子停电供电员工冒雨抢修#).

Baoding was also considerably impacted by the storm and floods. Besides the many businesses and homes that were flooded, there were also power outages.

Firefighter ‘Dropping from the Sky’

Another story shared online by China’s Firefighters official Weibo channel recounts an incident that occurred on July 30 in Handan, Hebei.

Amidst the heavy rainfall, a driver found himself trapped in the rapidly rising water and faced the risk of drowning – a very close call.

A firefighter by the name of Zhao Yapeng (赵亚朋) came to his rescue by descending from above and successfully brought him to safety. As a video of the incident is shared on Chinese socials, the firefighter is now praised online for the rescue operation and the way he just “dropped from the sky” (“从天而降”).

Exhausted Firefighters and Servicemen

Besides the dozens of stories highlighting the heroic actions of individuals, there are also videos showcasing the efforts and sacrifices made by firefighters and servicemen during their rescue work.

Some clips portray them having a quick meal in the rain (#武警官兵就着雨水吃饭让人破防#), getting some rest on floors, or lying outside before the break of dawn to resume their duties. These videos are primarily posted by official Chinese media channels and are often accompanied by emotional music.

According to a recent post by the official Weibo channel of China’s Firefighters (@中国消防), as of Tuesday afternoon, firefighting and rescue teams from Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei had responded to a total of 2577 emergency incidents caused by the recent heavy rainfall. They dispatched a total of 12,624 firefighters and successfully rescued and evacuated over 6,300 stranded individuals.

Highlighting the collective sacrifice of Chinese firefighters and servicemen in times of hardship is something we have also seen in Chinese official media coverage of the Henan flooding and the Chongqing forest fires.

While highlighting the heroic stories amid the storm may be a recurring part of Chinese propaganda efforts, these accounts also resonate with netizens, leading to widespread sharing and likes. “Nature is ruthless, but humans are compassionate,” expressed some commenters, acknowledging the contrasting forces at play. Others remarked on the helplessness people face when confronting powerful natural disasters.

It is this very contrast between brutal nature and warm humaneness that strikes a chord with most. In the face of such powerlessness, it is perhaps not surprising that stories of people bravely taking control offer a ray of light during darker times.

By Manya Koetse 

The original version of the featured image was posted by @中国消防 on Weibo.

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Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of 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 Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Changsha Restaurant Employee Pays the Price after Protecting Abused Child

A Changsha restaurant employee who intervened when a mother beat her child ended up paying the price for it.

Manya Koetse



The story of a restaurant employee who had to pay the price for sharing a video of a mother beating her child has triggered anger on Chinese social media.

The incident happened on September 14, when Mr. Jiang (江), an employee at the ‘Peng Shu’ Western-style restaurant in Changsha, stopped a mother from beating her young daughter at the shopping mall where the restaurant is located.

As reported by the Guizhou media channel People’s Focus (@百姓关注), a mother and daughter at the restaurant drew the staff’s attention when the mother began physically assaulting her daughter.

The mother, clearly overwhelmed by her emotions, resorted to kicking, hitting, yelling, and even attempting to strike her child with a chair, allegedly in response to the child accidentally spilling ice cream on her clothing.

During this distressing incident, which was captured on video, Mr. Jiang and another colleague intervened to protect the child and immediately alerted the police to the situation.

But the one who was punished in the end was not the mother.

The video of this incident was shared online, leading the woman to repeatedly visit the restaurant in frustration over her unblurred face in the video. The police had to mediate in this dispute.

To the dismay of many netizens, the employee ended up being forced to pay the woman 10,000 yuan ($1369) in compensation for “moral damages.” He has since resigned from his job and has left Changsha. A related hashtag was viewed over 110 million times on Weibo (#餐厅员工发顾客打娃视频后赔1万离职#) and also became a hot topic on Douyin.

The majority of commenters expressed their anger at the unjust outcome where a restaurant employee, who had attempted to protect the child, faced repercussions while the mother appeared to avoid any legal consequences for her actions.

“Where is the All-China Women’s Federation when you need them?” some wondered, while others wanted to know why the incident was not followed up with an immediate investigation into the child abuse. Others suggested that if it were a man who had beaten his child, authorities would have been quicker to intervene.

The issue of corporal punishment for children often comes up in Chinese social media discussions. While many people find it unacceptable to beat children, using violence to discipline children is also commonplace in many families.

When China’s first national law against domestic violence came into effect on 1 March 2016, article 5 and 12 specifically addressed the special legal protection of children and made family violence against children against the law.

By Manya Koetse

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Fashion & Beauty

Fashion that Hurts? Online Debates on China’s Draft Law Regarding ‘Harmful’ Clothes

The proposed ban on clothing deemed harmful is stirring debate, with some arguing for the significance of protecting national pride and others emphasizing the value of personal expression.

Manya Koetse



China’s recent proposal to ban clothing that “hurts national feelings” has triggered social media debates about freedom of dress and cultural sensitivities. The controversial amendment has raised questions about who decides what’s offensive for which reason.

A draft amendment to China’s Public Security Administration Punishments Law (治安管理处罚法) has caused some controversy this week for proposing a ban on clothes that “hurt national feelings.”

The discussions are about Article 34, clausules 3 and 4, which point out that wearing clothing or symbols that are deemed “harmful” to “the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” could become illegal. Offenders may face up to 15 days of detention and a fine of 5,000 yuan ($680).

The revised Article is part of a section about acts disrupting public order and their punishment, mentioning the protection of China’s heroes and martyrs.

Especially over the past three to four years, Chinese authorities have placed more importance on protecting the image of China’s “heroes and martyrs.” In 2018, the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law was adopted to strengthen the protection of those who have made significant contributions to the nation and sacrificed their lives in the process.

Those insulting the PLA can face serious consequences. In 2021, former Economic Observer journalist Qiu Ziming (仇子明), along with two other bloggers, were the first persons to be charged under the new law as they were detained for “insulting” Chinese soldiers. Qiu, who had 2.4 million fans on his Weibo page, made remarks questioning the number of casualties China said it suffered in the India border clash. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Earlier this year, Chinese comedian Li Haoshi was canceled making a joke that indirectly made a comparison between PLA soldiers and stray dogs, while also placing words famously used by Xi Jinping in a ridiculous context.

Screenshot of the draft widely shared on social media.

The draft is open for public comment through September 30, and it is therefore just a draft of a proposed amendment at this point.

Nevertheless, it has ignited many discussions on Chinese social media, where legal experts, bloggers, and regular netizens gave their views on the issue, with many people opposing the amendment.

This a translation of the first four clausules of Article 34 by Jeremy Daum’s China Law Translate (see the full translation here). Note that the discussions are focused on the item (2) and (3) revisions:

“Article 34:Those who commit any of the following acts are to be detained for between 5 and 10 days or be fined between 1,000 and 3,000 RMB; and where the circumstances are more serious, they are to be detained for between 10 and 15 days and may be concurrently fined up to 5,000 RMB:
(1) engaging in activities in public places that are detrimental to the environment and atmosphere for commemorating heroes and martyrs;
(2) Wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public places that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, or forcing others do do so;
(3) Producing, transmitting, promoting, or disseminating items or speech that is detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people;
(4) Desecrating or negating the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs, or advocating or glorifying wars of aggression or aggressive conduct, provocation, or disrupting public order.”

Here, we mention the biggest online discussions surounding the draft amendment.

Main Objections to the Amendment

On Chinese social media site Weibo, commenters used various hashtags to discuss the recent draft, including the hashtags “China’s Proposed Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#我国拟修订治安管理处罚法#), “Article 34 of the Draft Amendment to the Public Security Administration Punishments Law” (#治安管理处罚法修订草案第34条#) or “Harm the Feelings of the Chinese Nation” (#伤害中华民族感情#).

The issue that people are most concerned about is the vague definition “harming or hurting the spirit and feelings of the Chinese nation” (“伤害中华民族精神、感情”).

Although Chinese state media outlets, including the English-language Global Times, indicate that the clause is deemed to target some provocative actions to attract public attention, such as wearing Japanese military uniforms at sensitive sites, legal experts and social media users are expressing apprehensions regarding its ambiguity.

Questions arise: Who determines what qualifies as “harmful”? What criteria will be used? How will it be enforced? Beyond concerns about the absence of clear guidelines on which attire might be deemed illegal and for what reasons, there are fears of potential misinterpretation and misuse of such a law due to its subjective nature.

Some people question whether wearing foreign brands like Adidas or Nike could be considered offensive. There are also concerns about whether wearing sports attire supporting specific clubs might be seen as disrespectful. Another common topic is cosplay, a popular form of role-playing among China’s youth, where individuals dress up in costumes and accessories to portray specific characters. Can people still dress up in the way they like?

Well-known political commentator Hu Xijin published a video commentary about the issue on September 7, suggesting that the law in question could be more concrete and avoid misunderstanding by explicitly mentioning it targets facism, racism, or separatism. He also suggested that it is important for China’s legal system to provide people with a sense of security (– rather than scaring them).

Others reiterated similar views. If the clausules are indeed specifically about slandering national heroes and martyrs, which makes sense considering their context, they should be rephrased. One popular legal blogger (@皇城根下刀笔吏) wrote:

The legal enforceability of harming the spirit and the feelings of the Chinese nation is not quite the same as insulting or slandering heroes. Because it is actually very clear who our national heroes are. They are classified as martyrs and were approved by the state, it’s very clear. But when it comes to the feelings and the spirit of the Chinese nation, this is just very vague (..) And ambiguity brings about a mismatch in the practice of implementation, which will make people lose trust in this legal provision and makes them feel unsafe.”

Although a majority of commenters agree that the proposed amendment is vague, some also express that they would support a ban on clothes that are especially offensive. Among them is the popular blogger Han Dongyan (@韩东言), who has over 2.3 million followers on Weibo.

One example that is mentioned a lot, also by Han, is the 2001 controversy surrounding Chinese actress Vicky Zhao who wore a mini-dress printed with the old Japanese naval flag during a fashion shoot, triggering major backlash over her perceived lack of sensitivity to historical matters and the offensive dress.

Han also mentioned a 2018 example of two young men dressed in Imperial Japanese military uniforms taking a photo in front of the Shaojiashan Bunker at Zijin Mountain, where the Second Sino-Japanese War is commemmorated.

Kimono Problems

One trending story that is very much entangled with recent discussions about the proposed ban on ‘harmful’ clothing is that about a group of Chinese men and women who were recently denied access to the Panlongcheng National Archaeological Site Park in Wuhan because staff members allegedly mistook their clothing for Japanese traditional attire.

The individuals were actually not wearing Japanese traditional dress at all; they were wearing traditional Tang dynasty clothing to take photos of themselves. This is part of the Hanfu Movement, a social trend that is popular among younger people who supports the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothing (read more).

According to Zhengguan News (正观新闻), there is no official park policy prohibiting the wearing of Japanese clothing, and an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Paper reported that the incident allegedly happened around closing time.

Meanwhile, this incident has sparked discussions because it highlights the potential consequences when authorities arbitrarily enforce clothing rules and misinterpret situations. One netizen wrote: “It illustrates that when “some members of the public” cannot even tell the difference between Hanfu, Tang dynasty attire, and Japanese kimono, they are simply venting their emotions.”

Last year, a Chinese female cosplayer who was dressed in a Japanese summer kimono while taking pictures in Suzhou’s ‘Little Tokyo’ area was taken away by local police for ‘provoking trouble’ (read here).

A video showed how the young woman was scolded by an officer for wearing the Japanese kimono, suggesting she is not allowed to do so as a Chinese person. The girl was known to be a cosplayer, and she was dressed up as the character Ushio Kofune from the Japanese manga series Summer Time Rendering, wearing a cotton summer kimono, better known as yukata.

The incident sparked extensive debates, with differing viewpoints emerging. While some believed the girl’s choice of wearing Japanese clothing during the week leading up to August 15, a memorial day marking the end of the war, was insensitive, many commenters defended her right to engage in cosplay.

These discussions are resurfacing on Weibo, underscoring the divided opinions on the matter.

One Weibo user expressed a common viewpoint: “I believe wearing a Japanese kimono in everyday situations is not a problem, but doing so at specific times and places could potentially offend the sentiments of the Chinese nation.” Another blogger (@猹斯拉) also voiced support for a law that could prohibit certain clothing: “If you genuinely believe what you’re wearing is not harmful, you always have the right to make your argument.”

However, there is also significant opposition, with some individuals posting images of themselves reading George Orwell’s 1984 at night or making cynical remarks like, “Maybe we should say nothing and wear nothing, as anything else could lead to our arrest.”

“This is not progress,” another person wrote: “It’s taking another step back in time.”

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes


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