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Video of Assault on Woman in Beijing Hotel Causes Urban Safety Concerns Amongst Netizens

Video footage of one woman being attacked near a hotel known for prostitution in the popular Beijing 798 neighbourhood has gone viral on Weibo and WeChat. The case causes concern amongst netizens, who fear for women’s safety in the city.

Manya Koetse

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Video footage of a woman being attacked near a hotel known for prostitution in the popular Beijing 798 neighbourhood has gone viral on Weibo and WeChat. The case causes concern amongst netizens, who fear for women’s safety in the city.

One Sina Weibo one user named Wanwan_2016 from Hangzhou posted a surveillance video on April 4 that showed her being attacked by a man in a hotel hallway in Beijing’s popular 798 Art District. The assault occurred on Sunday evening, April 3rd, just before 11 pm.

The video caused a lot of commotion amongst China’s netizens for multiple reasons. One of the major things that angered people was that the video revealed how bystanders and hotel staff did not help the woman when she was attacked by the man. It also raised concerns about the safety of Chinese hotels like the one where the assault occurred – which are meet-up places for prostitution. Many netizens furthermore spoke of the fact that Chinese media initially hardly covered the topic. Lastly, the case also increased public awareness on women having to be able to defend themselves in such situations.

By now, the topic has become an online sensation that has been shared nearly a million times, attracting thousands of comments within a time frame of 48 hours.

“Why is it tolerated in the minds of Chinese people that wives or children are beaten?”

The video clip that went viral is actually a video of a video – recorded by the victim as she is shown the security footage of her own assault. During the clip, you can hear the woman commenting and crying as she sees the footage of her own attack. The footage shows how the woman is assaulted by a man as she is about to leave the hotel. The man first grabs her by the throat and then drags her to the street, just outside the view of the surveillance cameras. Although the woman reportedly cries out, people passing by do not help her. One hotel staff person stands by as the man makes a phone call to take the girl away, but does not intervene. If it had not been for another female hotel customer who stops the man by the end of the video, it is likely that the woman would have been abducted.

According to China.org, one of the reasons people did not help out might be because they thought that this was a quarreling couple. One popular comment on Weibo said: “Why is it tolerated in the minds of Chinese people that wives or children are beaten? How many times has it happened that suspects pretend to be spouses or head of the household, so that bystanders don’t care about their cruel acts?”

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The comment raises a sensitive issue, as it is not the first time that perpetrators act as if the woman they are assaulting is actually their wife or girlfriend. In 2013, several stories of men dragging away women in the Beijing subway while pretending to be their husband or boyfriend also made their rounds on the internet.

“The problem is society’s indifferent attitude.”

Within hours after Wanwan herself posted the clip of her assault on her Weibo page, it was shared over 65,000 times, with netizens reacting in anger over the indifference of the hotel staff and bystanders. China.org reports that the hotel management issued an online statement saying that a fight between a man and a woman had taken place that night: “The hotel staff tried to separate them after hearing the noise. The man then made a phone call and tried to take the woman away. The woman sat down on the ground and called the police. When the man tried to drag the woman towards the emergency exit, he was stopped by a female customer and a hotel guard,” the statement said.

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Through her Weibo account, Wanwan calls for people to share the video so that more people know about it, and women can learn from it to be more vigilant. She also hopes for justice in this case. The topic went viral under the hashtag of ‘Woman attacked at Yitel Hotel’ (#和颐酒店女生遇袭#). By Wednesday, the video was shared more than 920,000 times and had attracted over 260,000 comments.

One netizen pointed out: “The crucial problem here is a great shortcoming of our society, where people have become accustomed to showing an indifferent attitude. The problem is not about where this happened (..), it is about the state of society.”

“I am so disappointed.”

Weibo netizens worry for women’s safety in Beijing and condemn the hotel chain that Yitel belongs to, Home Inns, complaining that these kinds of hotels are often used for prostitution and other illegal activities, are unsafe and have bad service: “I hope this case will raise hotel staff’s awareness on the safety of its customers,” one netizen says.

Homeinn has again commented one the case through its Weibo account earlier today (April 6), saying that “the police is currently investigating this case and we are assisting them in this, we are in close contact with them, and will report more on this matter soon.”

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Through Sina Weibo, state media outlet People’s Daily warns all women: “Ladies, please pass this on. Safety guidelines for women. A woman from Hangzhou was attacked at a Beijing hotel and police is investigating the case. Please keep this in mind: 1. Please do not go to appointed places with strangers. 2. Do not go into dark streets at night by yourself. 3. Do not just open the door for anyone. 4. Do not cling to your property in dangerous situations.”

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The guidelines also warn women not to take black cabs. Many netizens are critical about the warning as they feel that it puts the responsibility of an attack on the shoulders of women: “Isn’t it the job of the police to make sure we can safely go out?” one netizen wonders.

Wanwan herself only had one final reaction today to the media, police and hotel’s reactions: “I am so disappointed.”

– By Manya Koetse & Diandian Guo

Featured image: original footage screenshots compilated by What’s on Weibo

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

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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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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China Books & Literature

“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors

Manya Koetse

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As news of The Bookworm’s closing makes its rounds on social media, Beijingers have responded in shock, mourning the loss of an iconic and meaningful meeting place for book(worm) lovers around the city.

The Bookworm Beijing, at Nansanlitun Road, is a bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space that has become a center of cultural exchange for Beijing’s foreign community since 2005.

The location is a beating heart of Beijing’s literary world; a place where writers, journalists, students, diplomats, academics, and all kinds of people – both foreign and Chinese – come together to exchange knowledge, read, and sit down for a glass of wine.

Today, the Bookworm announced its sudden closure via WeChat, writing:

It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease.”

The announcement further says that the location will be forced to suspend operations “most probably” as of Monday, November 11, and that the Bookworm will attempt to reorganize and find a new location.

News of the Bookworm’s closing has been becoming a topic of conversation on various social media sites from WeChat to Twitter and Weibo.

Famous Chinese journalist and author Luo Changping (罗昌平) writes on Weibo: “The Bookworm is forced to close! It used to be next door to my former office, and it was once like my living room. Sigh.”

Shanghai comedian Storm Xu called the closure of the Beijing Bookworm “the end of an era,” saying he looks back on many good memories there.

“They had many events, good food, special books; I used to go there a few times per year,” one person writes. “This really is so sad,” other Weibo users respond.

There are also various Weibo commenters who also mention that news of Bookworm’s closing comes just a day after the news that publisher of magazine-books and online bookseller Duku Books (读库) is forced to close its Beijing warehouse for the sixth time.

Over the past decade, many popular venues in Beijing have been forced to close their doors or relocate. Beijing hangouts such as Bed Bar, Salud, Vineyard Cafe, 2 Kolegas, Jiangjinjiuba, Mao Livehouse, Hercules, Aperativo, The Bridge Cafe, Great Leap Brewery Sanlitun, Jing-A Taproom 1949, and many others have all been closed over the past years.

Nightlife hotspot Sanlitun bar street was demolished and bricked up in 2017 as part of the mission of the city management to gentrify the area.

Changing Sanlitun in 2017.

The demolishment of “illegal structures” in the city has been an ongoing effort of the local government for years. These efforts became especially visible in late 2017 when people in Beijing’s Daxing area faced a large-scale evacuation campaign after a big fire broke out there on November 18, killing 19 people.

The large-scale evacuation campaign was also expanded to other areas of Beijing in a campaign by the municipal authorities aimed at unlicensed developments to target “illegal structures” and “buildings with potential fire hazards.”

But many people on Weibo and WeChat questioned if the campaign was actually more about politics than about safety concerns – something that was strongly refuted by state media outlets at the time.

These questions will remain unanswered, also for the Bookworm. Is its closure really about closing down an “illegal structure,” or are there more politically-motivated considerations playing a role here? On Weibo, some commenters say the location is closed down for being a home of free discussions and “free thinking,” while others say that no matter what the place is, the building’s safety and legal status is what matters here.

Perhaps the future will tell. We surely hope the Bookworm will soon pop up and open its doors in another location very soon.

Those who are interested can support the Bookworm by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted, until November 11.

By Manya Koetse

Images: Bookworm images by The Bookworm, edited by What’s on Weibo.
Sanlitun Image: Might have been taken by Manya in Beijing 2017, but we’re not 100% sure so let us know if we’re mistaken.

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.

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

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