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Zhou Zhou in West Africa: Chinese Woman Trending on Weibo after Going ‘Missing’ in Nigeria

The story of Zhou Zhou – who joined her husband in Nigeria – caused concerns among netizens who believed the woman is not safe.

Manya Koetse

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One Chinese woman’s decision to move to West Africa with her older husband triggered worries and speculation on social media, with prevailing negative stereotypes fuelling fears that something bad might had happened to her.

A 7-months pregnant Chinese woman married to a Nigerian man suddenly became top trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo this week when she went ‘missing in action’ after posting about her upcoming trip to West Africa on her social media channels.

The woman posted about her travels as ‘Zhou Zhou in West Africa’ on Douyin, the Chinese TikTok, where she has over 290,000 followers.

The 20-year-old Chinese woman named Zhou Zhou gained netizens’ attention after she wrote on social media on July 28 that she would travel out of China and join her African husband to go back to his hometown.

One of the last photos Zhou Zhou shared online before going MIA (missing in action).

She shared some details of her trip from the Shanghai International Airport on social media, including those on how Nigerian border security staff inquired about her family and her purpose for visiting the country.

A photo of Zhou Zhou and her husband makes it to news channels.

Zhou Zhou soon received many messages from concerned netizens advising her to reconsider her trip because she is pregnant, suggesting that the medical care in West Africa is not up to par and that she would not be safe in Nigeria.

When Zhou Zhou then stopped updating her social media and did not respond to personal messages anymore, people started raising the alarm that Zhou might have gone missing after arriving in Nigeria. When her social media account bio info suddenly changed from ‘female’ to ‘male’, people worried that something might have happened to her.

By August 1st, there had been over 1.3 billion (!) views of a hashtag titled “Zhou Zhou in West Africa Went Missing” (#周周在西非已失联#).

The online concerns about Zhou Zhou grew so loud that even the Chinese Consultate in Nigeria responded to the issue (#大使馆回应周周在西非已失联#) and said they would look into the matter.

Zhou Zhou’s story unleashed a flood of stories on the supposed situation in West Africa or in Africa in general, with many people claiming to know what life is like or how Africans are like. Some people suggested that Zhou Zhou might discover her husband would actually have “multiple wives” and pointed out cultural differences between China and Nigeria.

One Nigeria-based blogger shared their experience about the various problems in the country, such as female inequality, and also claimed that Black [Africans] had a “talent for acting” and that “they should not be easily trusted”, adding: “we as Chinese don’t even say ‘I love you’ as many times in our entire lifetime as some Black [Africans] do within a time frame of two hours.”

Others were concerned about the age difference of fifteen years between Zhou Zhou and her husband, writing: “The age gap between them is so big, Zhou Zhou is only 20 years old? How did they meet? (..) Zhou Zhou and this African uncle come from such different cultural backgrounds.”

Throughout the years, there have been multiple trending stories on Weibo triggering worries that Chinese people, especially women, are not safe when they go abroad and that they are targeted for their nationality. After the murder of two Chinese sisters in Japan in 2017, a popular comment said: “When Chinese citizens travel to other countries, they must be vigilant. After all, we are not familiar enough with the political environment and social atmosphere of other countries. We must learn to protect ourselves.”

The existing prejudice and racial stereotyping on Chinese social media regarding African men only added fuel to the fire.

On the late night of August 1st, Zhou Zhou finally sent out a message on social media, telling everyone that she was doing well and thanking everyone for their concern.

Zhou Zhou’s post.

She also uploaded a video to her Douyin channel, saying:

“We’re doing well, thank you. I’m in the final stage of my pregnancy. Perhaps my feelings are not completely stable at the moment, because I’ve received so many messages and didn’t give a timely reply. Maybe I created misunderstandings because of it.”

In the video, Zhou Zhou explained that her husband does not have multiple wives and that they had already arranged a medical check-up at a local hospital.

Her response went trending (#周周在西非发视频回应#), garnering over 140 million views this week.

While many people accused Zhou Zhou of being an ‘attention seeker’ and purposely creating “a hype,” there were also those who argued that she should now be left in peace.

“I don’t like to tell young women how to choose their partner,” one commenter (@Amy小北京) responded: “To each their own. Some people love money, others love appearance. Some people love sincerity, others love excitement. For this girl, it’s not that it’s wrong to find someone from West Africa. This is her life, she has the right to choose. But why would I still say she’s stupid? [Because] the risk of this marriage is still too great.”

“Netizens did what they had to, they advised her not to, but she’s an adult and she’ll well aware of her own decision, let’s just wish her the best,” one educational blogger (@叫我小张同志就好) wrote.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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©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 Military

China ‘Strikes Back’: Taiwan Military Drills, Countermeasures, and Waves of Nationalism on Weibo

One poster by China Daily on Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan said: “The Chinese people will fight back twice as hard.”

Manya Koetse

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During this tension-filled and eventful week, the general mood on Chinese social media went from angry to frustrated. With the start of China’s military drills around Taiwan and the announcement of countermeasures in response to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, there’s been a new wave of national pride and expressions of nationalism.

When Nancy Pelosi’s plane landed in Taipei on Tuesday, August 2nd, many Chinese netizens expressed frustration and anger that she had “gotten away too easy” with visiting Taiwan despite repeated warnings by Beijing. Things had not turned out the way many had hoped, and the U.S. House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan – which Beijing considers to be a province of China, – was seen as a provocation at a time when the China-US relationship was already strained.

On Thursday, however, the mood on Chinese social media turned around when China began its announced live-fire military drills around Taiwan. State media channels, official accounts, military bloggers, and regular netizens shared the sometimes movie-like videos showing large-scale military exercises, including ballistic missiles fired into waters.

From Fujian’s Pingtan Island, one of mainland China’s closest points to Taiwan, tourists and day trippers had a front-row view of some projectiles launched by the Chinese military and helicopters flying past (see Twitter thread embedded below).

On Friday, August 5th, during which military drills continued, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members, along with a string of countermeasures against the U.S., which are the following:


“1. Canceling China-US Theater Commanders Talk.
2. Canceling China-US Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT).
3. Canceling China-US Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) meetings.
4. Suspending China-US cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants.
5. Suspending China-US cooperation on legal assistance in criminal matters.
6. Suspending China-US cooperation against transnational crimes.
7. Suspending China-US counternarcotics cooperation.
8. Suspending China-US talks on climate change.”

By Friday evening, one CCTV-initiated Weibo hashtag regarding the countermeasures (#针对佩洛西窜台反制措施#) had received over 280 million views, and another one regarding sanctions on Pelosi (#外交部宣布制裁佩洛西#) had received over 780 million views.

On the same day, news that lightning struck outside the White House, critically injuring four people, also went trending on Chinese social media. Many people responded to the remarkable news with sayings about how this was “Pelosi’s curse” and that “evil doings will rebound onto the evildoer.”

State media outlet China Daily posted an online poster with both Chinese and English text, writing: “Let me be serious and clear: we will not fight if they don’t fight us. For any act in violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Chinese people will fight back twice as hard,” referring to the words of the spokesperson of the Chinese mission to the EU.

When news came out on Friday that Japanese authorities condemned China’s firing of ballistic missiles during the ongoing military drills around Taiwan, claiming Chinese missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Chinese state media outlet Global Times dismissed Tokyo’s concerns, calling the complaints “unprofessional” and “baseless” since Japan was referring to an overlapping area it allegedly has no exclusive rights to (#日本碰瓷中国导弹毫无道理#).

In response to the issue, Xu Ji (@徐记观察), a blogger with over 3 million followers, posted a gif on Weibo showing Chinese actor Wu Jing in the iconic action film Wolf Warrior II with both middle fingers up. Wu Jing stars in the movie as Leng Feng, a Chinese veteran who travels around the globe and punishes those who offend China (Sun 2021, 128).

The image set the tone for the overall mood on social media regarding the recent international developments.

“Beautifully played!” many commenters said.

“First steps of striking back! Countermeasures! Hitting back! Sooner or later the national flag will rise on Taiwan!”, Chinese actor Huang Haibo wrote on his Weibo account (@real黄海波).

“I trust in the motherland, I trust in PLA,” was another recurring comment.

“We gave you a choice, you didn’t want it, now you have to deal with the consequences,” one Weibo commenter said.

When news came out on Friday night that a mountain fire broke out on an outer island during an artillery exercise held by the Taiwanese military, a streak of schadenfreude shot through Weibo, with some netizens wondering if the PLA had helped Taiwan to extinguish the fire they started themselves.

“It’s probably better if our troops climb up the hill and put out the fire,” multiple people suggested, and others writing: “I feel embarrassed for them.”

“The PLA will come to the rescue,” others also said, repeating the same trust and pride in the People’s Liberation Army that was echoed across Chinese social media the entire day.

Also read:
*From ‘Starting a War’ to ‘Just for Show’: Chinese Social Media Views on Pelosi’s Potential Taiwan Visit
* Pelosi in Taiwan: “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues”

By Manya Koetse

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Featured image is an edited picture showing an image from Wolf Warrior 2 as posted on Weibo today.

References

Sun, Jing. 2021. Red Chamber, World Dream – Actors, Audience, and Agendas in Chinese Foreign Policy and Beyond. United States: University of Michigan Press.

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©2022 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

Pelosi in Taiwan: “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues”

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo when Pelosi arrived in Taiwan.

Manya Koetse

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August 2nd was a tumultuous day on Chinese social media, with millions of netizens closely following how Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan. Chinese state media propagate the message that not only Chinese authorities condemn the move, but that the Chinese people denounce it just as much.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is all the talk on Weibo, where netizens are closely following the latest developments and what they might mean for the near future of Taiwan and Sino-American relations.

“Today is a sensitive time, as it is said that Pelosi will fly into Taiwan tonight, challenging the one-China principle,” Global Times political commentator Hu Xijin wrote on Weibo on Tuesday afternoon, while Pelosi’s plane was still en route:

“At this time I’d like to tell everyone, that I firmly believe the Chinese government will definitely take a series of countermeasures, which include military actions. The Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of National Defense have repeatedly said they are “on the alert and combat-ready” and will not “sit and watch.” This is the country’s prestige, how could they not hit back? So let’s wait and see what will happen next.”

Tuesday was an extremely tumultuous day on Chinese social media as Taiwan- and Pelosi-related hashtags popped up one after the other, and news and videos kept flooding the platform, sometimes leading to a temporary overload of Weibo’s servers.

Around 20.30, an hour before Pelosi was expected to land in Taiwan at that time, more than half of all the trending search topics on Weibo related to Pelosi and Taiwan as virtually everyone was following the plane’s route and when it would land.

Not long before the expected landing of Pelosi’s plane, footage circulated on Weibo showing the iconic Taipei 101 building with a display of greetings to Pelosi, welcoming her to Taiwan and thanking her for her support.

By Tuesday night, Chinese official channels promoted the hashtags “The United States Plays With Fire & Will Burn Itself by Taiwan Involvement Provocation” (#美台勾连挑衅玩火必自焚#) along with the hashtag “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues” (​​#干涉中国主权问题14亿人不答应#).

Image posted by Communist Youth League on Weibo.

Millions of Chinese netizens followed flight radar livestreams, with one livestream by China.org receiving over 70 million viewers at one point.

On Tuesday night at 22:44 local time, after taking a detour, Pelosi’s plane finally landed in Taipei. About eight minutes later, Nancy Pelosi, wearing a pink suit, stepped out of the plane together with her delegation.

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo, where Nancy Pelosi has been nicknamed ‘Old Witch’ recently.

Not long after, Hu Xijin posted on both on Twitter (in English) and on Weibo (in Chinese), writing that Pelosi’s landing in Taiwan opened an “era of high-intensity competition between China and US over Taiwan Strait.” Hu wrote that the PLA is announcing a series of actions, including military drill operations and live-fire exercises in zones surrounding Taiwan from August 4 to 7.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (华春莹) also posted a series of tweets condemning the “wrong and dangerous path” the U.S. is allegedly heading down, reiterating the same ‘1.4 billion people do not agree’ narrative that was previously propagated on Weibo by official channels: “Making themselves an enemy of the 1.4 billion Chinese people will not end up well. Acting like a bully in front of the whole world will only make everyone see that the US is the biggest danger to world peace.”

Many netizens expressed frustrations over how seemingly easy it was for Pelosi to land in Taiwan despite repeated warnings. “It’s not like I want us to go to war,” one person wrote on Weibo: “But they are getting off too easy. For days we shouted about countermeasures, what kind of countermeasure is this?”

“Even our community guard who makes 1500 a month [$220] does a better job; if he says you can’t come in, you can’t come in,” another blogger wrote.

The majority of commenters do express their dissatisfaction and anger about Pelosi coming to Taiwan, some even writing: “I hope that Taiwan is liberated when I wake up” or “We must unify again, once the Old Witch is gone, we can do so.”

Passed midnight the hashtag “There Is But One China” (#只有一个中国#), initiated by CCTV, picked up on Weibo and received over 320 million views. The post by CCTV that only said “there is but one China” was forwarded on Weibo over 1,3 million times.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” many people commented.

“I don’t think I can sleep tonight,” some wrote.

Meanwhile, on FreeWeibo, a website monitoring censored posts on Chinese social media platform Weibo, there are some posts casting another light on the Taiwan issue.

“Regarding ‘Taiwan is China’s Taiwan.’ Every person can vote, there’s multi-party rule, and there can be democratic elections. Only then can we talk about a reunification,” one comment said. It was censored shortly after.

For our other articles relating to Pelosi and her Taiwan visit, click here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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.

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