Ten of this year’s most buzzworthy stories from around China
The past 12 months in the world’s most populous nation have seen a rich mixture of curious, bizarre and moving stories
In a country as populous and digitally connected as China, stories that gain traction online come in all shapes and sizes.
Most days, we pick out some of the most buzzworthy stories on Chinese social media. From the unbelievable – such as the elderly woman who threw coins into a plane engine for good luck – to the heart-warming tale of a mother who refused to give up on her disabled son and helped him to reach Harvard, these are some of our most popular stories from around China this year.
Chinese woman offered refund after facial recognition allows colleague to unlock iPhone X
A woman in east China was offered a second refund after the facial recognition software on two iPhone X handsets she bought were found to be faulty . Her work colleague was able to get into both devices. The first time it happened, staff on the Apple hotline did not believe her and she had to demonstrate the issue to staff at the nearest Apple store in Nanjing. She received a refund but her new iPhone also suffered the same problem. She received a second refund. It was not known whether the woman had decided to purchase a third iPhone X.
Chinese tourist destroys with three swift kicks what nature took 3,000 years to build
Surveillance cameras at the Reed Flute cave in Guilin in the southwestern province of Guizhou caught a young man deliberately destroying a 50cm stalagmite, which took thousands of years to form. The man was caught on camera trying to kick off the stalagmite, which he eventually succeeded in doing after three attempts. He then walked away leaving it on the ground.
Chinese tourist faints in shock after accidentally breaking US$44,000 jade bracelet
Pictures of a Chinese tourist falling into the arms of bystanders after breaking a US$44,000 jade bracelet circulated widely on Chinese social media in June. The unidentified woman had tried on a bracelet in a shop in southwest China.
When she took it off, it slipped from her hands and broke in two. After being told the cost of the bracelet, she had a panic attack before suddenly losing consciousness. She recovered after hospital treatment and was trying to negotiate a compensation package.
Chinese mother who refused to give up disabled son nurtures him all the way to Harvard
When 29-year-old Ding Ding was born, he nearly suffocated due to complications and was left with cerebral palsy. Doctors, and his own father, suggested his mother Zou Hongyan give him up as he would grow up disabled or of low intelligence. But Zou worked tirelessly to help him overcome his disabilities as far as possible. Today, Ding is a university graduate and student at the elite Harvard University in the US – a feat he attributes to his mother’s persistence and endless devotion.
Elderly flight passenger throws coins into engine for ‘luck’, delays take-off for hours
A flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport was held up after an elderly woman passenger caused a disruption in June 2017. Passengers boarding the plane spotted an elderly woman throwing coins at the engine for “good luck”. The crew was alerted, and plane mechanics later found nine coins at the site, including one inside the engine that could have caused a serious accident.
Chinese tourists robbed in Paris hotel car park by four attackers armed with tear gas
A tour group of 40 Chinese tourists was robbed in Paris by four assailants in November. The four suspects sprayed tear gas at the tourists and made off with nine bags filled with shopping, including many luxury items. The incident renewed fears of violence against holidaymakers after a similar incident in 2016 when a Chinese man died of his injuries after being assaulted in a Paris suburb. The 2016 assault triggered demonstrations in Paris against violence and racism.
Bookworms slowly poisoned by their home library in eastern China
A couple and their child in Taizhou, Jiangsu province, developed symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning at the end of 2016. The adults, who had collected tens of thousands of books, suffered from constant coughing, while their child had rhinitis – and doctors weren’t sure what was causing their illness. At the woman’s request, the municipal authorities tested the air quality in their flat and found excessive levels of formaldehyde in every room. The problem was eventually traced to their bookshelves, which had excessive levels of formaldehyde, which is found in ink.
Chinese woman with sushi displayed on her body says customer molested her
A woman who was employed to have sushi served off her body at a restaurant in northern China struck out at one of its customers after accusing him of molesting her. She at first thought his actions were unintentional, but later realised he was taking advantage of her. She said he did “unspeakable” things when taking sushi from her body with his chopsticks. The practice of displaying sushi on a woman’s body originates in Japan where it is called nyotaimori.
Chinese villagers become millionaires selling yarn online
Farmers in a rural village in northern China were reported to have given up farming to sell woollen yarn online. It all started when a young villager set up an online store and made 20,000 yuan (US$2,900) in just three months. The villagers buy the wool and turn it into thread, before selling them online. The village which has a population of slightly more than 2,000 now boasts a few dozen millionaires since their yarn businesses gained popularity online.
Chinese rooftopping star confirmed dead after fatal fall from skyscraper
Popular rooftopping star Wu Yongning was confirmed dead more than a month after he abruptly stopped posting videos on Weibo. He had taken on a challenge that involved scaling a 62-storey building – one of the tallest in the southwestern city of Changsha. The challenge came with 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) in prize money, which he had intended to use for his wedding and medical treatment for his mother. Wu was famous for scaling skyscrapers without any safety equipment and had shared nearly 300 videos of his adventures on social media.