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Unanswered Questions Linger in the Aftermath of Tangshan BBQ Restaurant Beating Incident

The deafening silence surrounding the female victims of the Tangshan incident is trending on Weibo, where people are demanding answers.

Manya Koetse

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The shocking attack on female customers at a Tangshan BBQ restaurant on June 10 is still a major topic of conversation on Chinese social media, where the incident is also referred to as the “Tangshan Barbecue Restaurant Beating Incident” (唐山烧烤店打人案).

For a detailed description of the incident, which was captured by the restaurant’s security cameras (video link), see our previous article here.

In short, three women were sitting at a table together at 2:40 AM when a man came up and tried to touch one of them (a woman dressed in white). After the woman made it clear that she did not want him to touch her, the situation turned violent within seconds.

All of the women ended up getting beaten and kicked by a group of men. The woman dressed in white was dragged outside, where security cameras captured her being severely assaulted by the men. Another woman who tried to help her also ended up being beaten. After the outburst of violence, the men fled the scene, leaving the injured woman lying on the street. A day later, a total of nine men were arrested for their involvement in the attack.

While the two women lie motionless on the pavement, the men stand around.

The ‘Tangshan Barcebecue Beating Incident’ sent shockwaves across the country and triggered discussions on gang crimes, the safety of women, and what people can do to protect themselves and others.

Many restaurants took steps to provide women reassurance that they were safe and some businesses put up warning signs that any form of violent or aggressive behavior would not be tolerated.

Tangshan authorities also took action against crime in the city, introducing operation ‘Thunderstorm’ (雷霆风暴) on June 12, a two-week campaign for which a team of police officers are mobilized and deployed throughout the city to ensure public safety and crackdown on gang crimes.

The Tangshan incident led to dozens of people publicly discussing and exposing gang-related crimes. The fact that at least five of the suspects had criminal records was a cause of anger among those who felt that they should not have been allowed to be out and about at all. One former victim of a man involved in the attack also spoke out. He said he recognized Chen Jizhi (陈继志) from the security footage and that he was locked inside the trunk of a car for ten hours by Chen a few years prior. A hashtag related to the story received over 300 million views on June 17th (#男子称曾被陈继志等殴打险被活埋#).

Other people exposed other gang-related crimes via social media, disclosing their real names and holding their own ID in their hand to make their statements more credible.

One of them was a woman by the name of Zhang, who claimed that she was held hostage in May of this year at the bar where she worked by a local gang and was forced to sign IOUs together with her colleagues. After escaping and reporting to the police, they allegedly did not show up until seven hours later when everyone was gone. This story heightened people’s suspicions regarding police corruption in Tangshan.

Another story that went viral this week is that of a local ‘cake shop boss,’ who also claimed to be a victim of a local gang that has been extorting him since July of 2021, going as far as violently smashing up his shop and closing his business. One news post about this matter received over 340,000 likes on Weibo.

 

Deafening Silence Surrounding Victims

 

In light of the Tangshan restaurant beating, it seems as if everyone has stepped forward to have their say over the past week. The city has come forward with its special action, local businesses have put up signs, the owner of the restaurant where the assault took place published a tearful video in which she said that she too was a victim, some suspects’ family members also spoke out and pleaded with the public not to let their children suffer cyberbullying, and then other locals have spoken out about gang-related violence in the city.

But what about the female victims of the June 10th violence themselves? No statements, no updates, no family coming forward – the silence surrounding the female victims has been attracting a lot of attention on Chinese social media these days.

Many Weibo users suggest that news about the victims is purposely withheld and that people are being silenced about how the women are actually doing.

Text image shared on Weibo. “Please provide details about the injuries of the four girls. Four, not two! Stop covering up your mouth!”

According to previous official media reports, two female victims had been sent to the hospital for treatment and were in stable condition. Two other women reportedly suffered minor injuries and were not hospitalized. No further updates have been given, although the hospital did deny recent rumors that one female victim had passed away (hashtag #医院否认唐山被打女子去世传言#, 190 million views on June 17).

Online calls are growing louder for a follow-up on the victims’ situation and a more detailed report on what actually happened at the Tangshan Barbecue Restaurant. There are many people who are wondering what happened outside the view of the security cameras.

The original footage shows that when the violence starts, a woman (dressed in black) stands up from the table to defend her friend: she hits the aggressive man at their table with a beer bottle. Once her friend (dressed in white) is dragged out of the restaurant, we do not see her come out after.

This is the moment the two women are standing up while their friend is being dragged out of the restaurant. The woman on the right (in black) does not come out later.

On social media, people are speculating about what might have happened to the girl dressed in black and about what occurred in an alley behind the restaurant.

Security footage that was recorded from another angle shows that after the moment when the original video that spread online ends (at the end the guys leave, the girl is left on the street), the incident still continues. One of the women can be seen running into an alley or street behind the restaurant, with the others following. The woman in white, who was dragged by her hair, also stands up and runs away in the same direction.

“What happened in the back alley?” is a question that lingers online, along with multiple other questions relating to what went on after the original video footage ended that night. One Weibo post asking many of these questions received over 275,000 likes within a day.

Image allegedly showing the back alley where the incident possibly continued.

The hashtag “Follow-up to the Tangshan Beating of Women” (#唐山被打女生后续#) received over 210 million views on Weibo on June 17. “The entire nation is waiting for a follow-up,” one Weibo user wrote.

Meanwhile, various videos, images, and sound recordings are flooding Weibo, but nothing has been verified at this point regarding what might have happened in the alley behind the restaurant. “I don’t want to believe it’s real. But I don’t know what to believe anymore,” one commenter said.

On Friday night, Chinese media reported that 320 Weibo accounts had been shut down for spreading rumors about the Tangshan incident and its aftermath. The hashtag related to the news received over 580 million views on Friday (#发布唐山打人事件谣言320个微博账号被关闭#).

Underneath the post, many commenters wrote: “We just want to know if the girls are okay” and “We just want to know the truth.”

By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 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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China Local News

Knife-Wielding Woman Goes on Rampage at Guixi Primary School

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground.

Manya Koetse

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A woman in Guixi, a county-level city in Jiangxi’s Yingtan, has been taken into custody after stabbing people at a primary school on Monday, May 20, around noon. The incident resulted in at least two fatalities and left ten others injured.

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground, victims of the woman’s stabbing rampage at the Mingde Primary School in Guixi’s Wenfang.

The incident immediately attracted significant attention on Weibo, where netizens not only commented on the tragedy of innocent children being involved in such a horrific crime but also on the unusual fact that the suspect is female; as typically, perpetrators of such crimes are male.

Others also questioned why the school security guards were not present to prevent such an incident and how the woman managed to gain access to the school grounds in the first place.

The 45-year-old female suspect is a native of Guixi. It’s reported that she used a paring knife to carry out the stabbing attack on the school premises.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities called on blood donation centers in Guixi to extend their opening hours, and local residents started queuing up to donate blood to help out the victims who are still being treated for their injuries.

Another question that lingers is why the woman would commit such an atrocious crime. People suggest it is bàofù shèhuì (报复社会), a Chinese term that translates to “retaliate against society” or “taking revenge on society.”

Baofu shehui is often cited as a type of criminal motivation for knife-wielding incidents in China, particularly those occurring at schools, where individuals with personal grievances and/or mental health issues commit these extreme crimes. Such incidents have happened multiple times in the past, notably between 2010 and 2012, during a series of elementary school and kindergarten attacks.

Different from these kinds of attacks in Europe or the US, it often involves older perpetrators who are disillusioned, frustrated, and alienated from their communities amid rapidly changing social and economic conditions in China.

But for many netizens, such a possible motivation does not make sense. Some commenters wrote: “Taking revenge on society should never be done by venting one’s anger against children.”

Others wish the worst upon the perpetrator. One popular comment says, “I hope she gets the death penalty, and that the victims’ families get to execute her.”

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

The Tragic Story of “Fat Cat”: How a Chinese Gamer’s Suicide Went Viral

The story of ‘Fat Cat’ has become a hot topic in China, sparking widespread sympathy and discussions online.

Manya Koetse

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The tragic story behind the recent suicide of a 21-year-old Chinese gamer nicknamed ‘Fat Cat’ has become a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media, touching upon broader societal issues from unfair gender dynamics to businesses taking advantage of grieving internet users.

The story of a 21-year-old Chinese gamer from Hunan who committed suicide has gone completely viral on Weibo and beyond this week, generating many discussions.

In late April of this year, the young man nicknamed ‘Fat Cat’ (胖猫 Pàng Māo, literally fat or chubby cat), tragically ended his life by jumping into the river near the Chongqing Yangtze River Bridge (重庆长江大桥) following a breakup with his girlfriend. By now, the incident has come to be known as the “Fat Cat Jumping Into the River Incident” (胖猫跳江事件).

News of his suicide soon made its rounds on the internet, and some bloggers started looking into what was behind the story. The man’s sister also spoke out through online channels, and numerous chat records between the young man and his girlfriend emerged online.

One aspect of his story that gained traction in early May is the revelation that the man had invested all his resources into the relationship. Allegedly, he made significant financial sacrifices, giving his girlfriend over 510,000 RMB (approximately 71,000 USD) throughout their relationship, in a time frame of two years.

When his girlfriend ended the relationship, despite all of his efforts, he was devastated and took his own life.

The story was picked up by various Chinese media outlets, and prominent social and political commentator Hu Xijin also wrote a post about Fat Cat, stating the sad story had made him tear up.

As the news spread, it sparked a multitude of hashtags on Weibo, with thousands of netizens pouring out their thoughts and emotions in response to the story.

 
Playing Games for Love
 

The main part of this story that is triggering online discussions is how ‘Fat Cat,’ a young man who possessed virtually nothing, managed to provide his girlfriend, who was six years older, with such a significant amount of money – and why he was willing to sacrifice so much in order to do so.

The young man reportedly was able to make money by playing video games, specifically by being a so-called ‘booster’ by playing with others and helping them get to a higher level in multiplayer online battle games.

According to his sister, he started working as a ‘professional’ video gamer as a means of generating money to satisfy his girlfriend, who allegedly always demanded more.

He registered a total of 36 accounts to receive orders to play online games, making 20 yuan per game (about $2.80). Because this consumed all of his time, he barely went out anymore and his social life was dead.

In order to save more money, he tried to keep his own expenses as low as possible, and would only get takeout food for himself for no more than 10 yuan ($1,4). His online avatar was an image of a cat saying “I don’t want to eat vegetables, I want to eat McDonald’s.”

The woman in question who he made so many sacrifices for is named Tan Zhu (谭竹), and she soon became the topic of public scrutiny. In one screenshot of a chat conversation between Tan and her boyfriend that leaked online, she claimed she needed money for various things. The two had agreed to get married later in this year.

Despite of this, she still broke up with him, driving him to jump off the bridge after transferring his remaining 66,000 RMB (9135 USD) to Tan Zhu.

As the story fermented online, Tan Zhu also shared her side of the story. She claimed that she had met ‘Fat Cat’ over two years ago through online gaming and had started a long distance relationship with him. They had actually only met up twice before he moved to Chongqing. She emphasized that financial gain was never a motivating factor in their relationship.

Tan additionally asserted that she had previously repaid 130,000 RMB (18,000 USD) to him and that they had reached a settlement agreement shortly before his tragic death.

 
Ordering Take-Out to Mourn Fat Cat
 

– “I hope you rest in peace.”
– “Little fat cat, I hope you’ll be less foolish in your next life.”
– “In your next life, love yourself first.”

These are just a few of the messages left by netizens on notes attached to takeout food deliveries near the Chongqing Yangtze River Bridge.

AI-generated image spread on Chinese social media in connection to the event.

As Fat Cat’s story stirred up significant online discussion, with many expressing sympathy for the young man who rarely indulged in spending on food and drinks, some internet users took the step of ordering McDonalds and other food delivery services to the bridge, where he tragically jumped from, in his honor.

This soon snowballed into more people ordering food and drinks to the bridge, resulting in a constant flow of delivery staff and a pile-up of take-out bags.

Delivery food on the bridge, photo via Weibo.

However, as the food delivery efforts picked up pace, it came to light that some of the deliveries ordered and paid for were either empty or contained something different; certain restaurants, aware of the collective effort to honor the young man, deliberately left the food boxes empty or substituted sodas or tea with tap water.

At least five restaurants were caught not delivering the actual orders. Chinese bubble tea shop ChaPanda was exposed for substituting water for milk tea in their cups. On May 3rd, ChaPanda responded that they had fired the responsible employee.

Another store, the Zhu Xiaoxiao Luosifen (朱小小螺蛳粉), responded on that they had temporarily closed the shop in question to deal with the issue. Chinese fast food chain NewYobo (牛约堡) also acknowledged that at least twenty orders they received were incomplete.

Fast food company Wallace (华莱士) responded to the controversy by stating they had dismissed the employees involved. Mixue Ice Cream & Tea (蜜雪冰城) issued an apology and temporarily closed one of their stores implicated in delivering empty orders.

In the midst of all the controversy, Fat Cat’s sister asked internet users to refrain from ordering take-out food as a means of mourning and honoring her brother.

Nevertheless, take-out food and flowers continued to accumulate near the bridge, prompting local authorities to think of ways of how to deal with this unique method of honoring the deceased gamer.

 
Gamer Boy Meets Girl
 

On Chinese social media, this story has also become a topic of debate in the context of gender dynamics and social inequality.

There are some male bloggers who are angry with Tan Zhu, suggesting her behaviour is an example of everything that’s supposedly “wrong” with Chinese women in this day and age.

Others place blame on Fat Cat for believing that he could buy love and maintain a relationship through financial means. This irked some feminist bloggers, who see it as a chauvinistic attitude towards women.

A main, recurring idea in these discussions is that young Chinese men such as Fat Cat, who are at the low end of the social ladder, are actually particularly vulnerable in a fiercely competitive society. Here, a gender imbalance and surplus of unmarried men make it easier for women to potentially exploit those desperate for companionship.

The story of Fat Cat brings back memories of ‘Mo Cha Official,’ a not-so-famous blogger who gained posthumous fame in 2021 when details of his unhappy life surfaced online.

Likewise, the tragic tale of WePhone founder Su Xiangmao (苏享茂) resurfaces. In 2017, the 37-year-old IT entrepreneur from Beijing took his own life, leaving behind a note alleging blackmail by his 29-year-old ex-wife, who demanded 10 million RMB (±1.5 million USD) (read story).

Another aspect of this viral story that is mentioned by netizens is how it gained so much attention during the Chinese May holidays, coinciding with the tragic news of the southern China highway collapse in Guangdong. That major incident resulted in the deaths of at least 48 people, and triggered questions over road safety and flawed construction designs. Some speculate that the prominence given to the Fat Cat story on trending topic lists may have been a deliberate attempt to divert attention away from this incident.

‘Fat Cat’ was cremated. His family stated their intention to take necessary legal steps to recover the money from his former girlfriend, but Tan Zhu reportedly already reached an agreement with the father and settled the case. Nevertheless, the case continues to generate discussions online, with some people wondering: “Is it over yet? Can we talk about something different now?”

Fat Cat images projected in Times Square

However, given that images of the ‘Fat Cat’ avatar have even appeared in Times Square in New York by now (Chinese internet users projected it on one of the big LED screens), it’s likely that this story will be remembered and talked about for some time to come.

 
UPDATE MAY 25
 

On May 20, local authorities issued a lengthy report to clarify the timeline of events and details surrounding the death of “Fat Cat,” which had attracted significant attention across China.

The report concluded that there was no fraud involved and that “Fat Cat” and his girlfriend were in a genuine relationship. Tan did not deceive “Fat Cat” for money; the transfers were voluntary. Furthermore, Tan returned most of the money to his parents.

The gamer’s sister is reportedly still being investigated for potentially infringing on Tan’s privacy by disclosing numerous private details to the public.

In the end, one thing is clear in this gamer’s tragic story, which is that there are no winners.

By Manya Koetse

– With contributions by Miranda Barnes and Ruixin Zhang

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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