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Weibo Mourns Passing of Forbidden City’s “Most Beloved” Cat Little Zai’er

The “royal” stray cats of the Forbidden City have never been more popular than in 2018. This week, news of the death of Palace Museum cat Zai’er received over 300 million views on social media.

Gabi Verberg

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After the death of Forbidden City celebrity cat Baidian earlier this year, Palace Museum staff and millions of netizens are again mourning over the death of another cat, China’s most beloved “royal cat” Little Zai’er (小崽儿).

The massive outpouring of grief over the recent death of the popular Palace Museum cat Little Zai’er shows that Weibo’s “animal craze” is reaching new heights.

Staff from the Palace Museum, housed in the Forbidden City, run a Weibo account where they frequently share updates on the adventures and wellbeing of some of the cats living within the walls of the Museum.

Photo posted on Weibo by @花花与三猫CatLive.

Earlier this month, the staff of the Palace Museum first noted that the beloved ‘Little Zai’er’ was missing. On Sunday the 16th of December, they wrote that the remains of the cat were found in a remote corner somewhere in the Forbidden City. According to sources, the ten-year-old Little Zai’er died of natural causes.

The death of Little Zai’er received great attention on Chinese social media. The hashtag “Forbidden City little Zai’er passed away” (#故宫小崽儿走了#) received over 300 million views, with thousands of people commenting on the sad news, posting photos or stories of their encounters with the cat.

One Weibo blogger, @花花与三猫CatLive, who had the opportunity to shoot photo’s with Xia’er, wrote: “I wanted to tell you, If I’d had the chance I would come and see you and bring you a snack. I wish you have a good time in kitty heaven”

Photo posted on Weibo by @花花与三猫CatLive.

Another Weibo user going by the name ‘Catbrother’ commented: “Every time I went to the Forbidden City I specially went to the Treasure Hall to see this Cat. He was always so good, surrounded by people taking his picture, calmly sunbathing. The news of his passing makes me so sad.”

Yet another girl posted a photo of herself on Weibo with a young Little Zai’er. Above the picture, it reads: “Farewell Little Zai’er.”

Photo by Weibo user @zoe啊喂.

Many say this particular cat has become popular to his approachability and cuteness. Little Zai’er lived in the Forbidden City for nearly a decade, and throughout the years, has been photographed by many. The cat even made an appearance in the television show The New Palace Museum (上新了故宫), that is currently airing on Beijing Satellite TV.

Many stray cats live in and around the Palace Museum, and they even have some historical significance; cats have lived there ever since the complex was built in the 15th century. They also serve a practical purpose: the cats have played an important role in protecting the museum’s precious antiques and relics from damage done by rats and mice.

For more about this topic and another super popular Palace Museum cat, check out our previous article Paws at the Palace Museum.

The tremendous attention for the death of Little Zai’er on social media makes is one of the hottest hashtags on Weibo in 2018. For a list of the other most trending topics on social media in China in 2018, check our Trends of 2018 article here.

By Gabi Verberg

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Local News

Sudden Ground Collapse at Metro Station in Xiamen

A sudden collapse occurred near Xiamen’s Lucuo station, just two weeks after a similar incident took place in Guangzhou.

Manya Koetse

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First published

In the evening of December 12, Xiamen’s Lvcuo (Lǚcuò 吕厝) metro station became a breaking news topic in Chinese media after a ground collapse incident occurred at a nearby intersection, followed by a major flood in the Xiamen subway.

Xiamen, Fujian Province, is one of China’s major coastal cities. According to Xiamen Metro News, the collapse happened at 21:52 local time.

At time of writing, rescue teams are still investigating the scene. It is unclear if people have been trapped or injured due to the collapse.

An apparent dashcam video shared by Sina News and People’s Daily on Weibo shows the moment right before the sudden collapse.

The video captures how the road is relatively busy at the time of collapsing, and at least one car can be seen crashing into the sinkhole.

Other footage shows that the Xiamen metro line is currently flooded (also see video in this tweet).

The scene of the collapse at 0:10 local time.

The metro station where this incident occurred is relatively new. Xiamen’s metro line was first opened in late December 2017.

Just two weeks ago, another major ground collapse accident occurred at the construction site of a metro line in Guangzhou. Three people remain missing after the incident.

On Thursday night local time, the Xiamen metro collapse was the number one trending topic on social media platform Weibo. Many netizens commenting on the incident express worries about the safety of roads and construction sites in China.

Update (Dec 13): According to the latest Chinese media reports, the drivers of two cars who were at the scene at the moment of the ground collapse have both been recused. One female pedestrian who also fell into the sinkhole is receiving medical treatment..

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

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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 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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