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‘Yueqing Boy’ Mother Falsely Reports Son as Missing to Test Husband’s Devotion

After five days of searching and drawing the attention of millions of people, the story ended with a twist.

Gabi Verberg

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The case of the 11-year-old “Yueqing Boy,” who allegedly went missing on the last day of November, attracted much attention online, and ended with a twist earlier this week. The mother of the “missing boy” had been hiding her son for five days after having a dispute with her husband.

In the early morning of the 5th of December, the Yueqing Public Security Bureau released a notice on Weibo stating that the “Yueqing Missing Boy” – real name Huang Zhengbao (黄政豪) -, whose missing had attracted the attention of millions, was found in good health.

According to the China Daily, the mother who had reported her son missing on the 30th of November had deliberately filed a false report. She hid her son in another house near their home and deceived her husband in making him believe their son was missing. All in an attempt to test how much he cared.

On the day that the boy allegedly did not return home from school, the parents had reported him missing at the local police station of Yueqing in the city of Wenzhou. In reality, the mother of the boy had met up with her son earlier that day when he was on his way home from school. She had ordered her son to wait in an arranged car on a parking lot, handed her son the keys of the car and some food, and went off.

Later, the mother reportedly came back and transferred her son to a house near the place they lived. He stayed in the house until the police found him.


Photo of the house where the boy was hidden.

The case of the missing boy attracted nationwide attention last week. A large-scale search operation was set up in Wenzhou. The police asked citizens to report any clues and forward information about the missing boy.

Netizens also came into action for the missing boy. The hashtag “11-year-old boy from Wenzhou missing for five days” (#温州11岁男孩失联5天#) received over 330 million views on Weibo. Many people forwarded information about the boy and expressed their sympathy for the family.

After the news spread that the whole incident was set up, Weibo users reacted with mixed feelings in the comment section of the Yueqing Police Official Weibo account. Many expressed their disbelieve about the mother’s actions, criticizing her for wasting so much of people’s time, efforts and money. But there were also those who were simply relieved the boy was found to be safe.

Timeline of events

The case started on the 30th of November when the 11-year-old boy did not return from school. As stated by the boy’s parents, the mother went to the bus station to wait for her son to get off the bus. When the boy had still not returned an hour later, both parents asked the Yueqing police for help.

According to China Daily, the Yueqing Public Welfare bureau launched a large-scale search operation that same night.

Social media was involved when the police asked people to forward news of the missing boy on channels such as Weibo and WeChat. They also mobilized as many volunteers as possible to help in the search.

On December 2nd, many Wenzhou people and netizens were shocked when the news came that the boy might have drowned in a small local river. A special search dog, employed to look for the boy, had given three signals at a river bank. Reason enough for the special search units to start looking for the boy’s body in the water. The footage of rescue teams combing out the river made their rounds online. However, after hours of searching, there was still no sign of the boy.

On the 4th of December, according to sources, the boys’ father announced that he would reward the person who could bring his boy home with 200,000 yuan (±$25,690). One hour later, the desperate father spread a video message online, in which he raised the reward to 500,000 yuan (±$64.240).

News of the missing went viral when Zhejiang media reported about the case, with millions of people instantly forwarding their posts.

On the 5th of December, the search for the boy came to an end when the Yueqing Public Security Bureau released a notice on Weibo, announcing that a family member of the boy deliberately falsely reported the boy missing. Huang Zhenghao was kept in good health and safety in a house, nearby the family’s home.

Various Chinese media reported that the boy’s mother and father were experiencing some troubles in their marriage, and that the mother had let the father to believe their son was missing to “test how much he cared.”

The mother was arrested for intentionally spreading false information, and has now been taken into custody. The police are further investigating the case.

Despite the mother’s arrest, the family of the boy expressed their sincerest gratitude to all the people who helped in search of Huang Zhengbao. In an interview with the uncle of the boy, he says that the boy is all right and went home with his father to have a good rest.

By Gabi Verberg, with contributions by Miranda Barnes.

All images via Baijiahao.

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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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    K.

    December 9, 2018 at 8:10 am

    豪 is hao2, not bao.

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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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