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Top searches on Douyin: Pfizer's COVID mutation; Recovered cadaver
The body of the 15-year-old boy who went missing at a high school in Yanshan county, Jiangxi province, last October has been found hanging in the woods near the school.
The video of an alleged Pfizer director ignited Douyin (the Chinese equivalent of TikTok) within the span of 72 hours, and has now become the subject of both fervent attention and convoluted speculation. Some Chinese netizens are pouring out with their antipathy to pharmaceutical companies, indignation at the U.S. administration, and near despair for the vice of mankind.
The second topic of concern is no more soothing. After going missing for more than 100 days, the body of the boy Hu Xinyu was finally found and sent for a post-mortem. The mysterious disappearance of the 15-year-old schoolboy has attracted long-lasting attention from Chinese media and the public during the whole course of the event.
The cinema is met with a sudden flurry of online quarrels. Viewers of Full River Red and The Wandering Earth II could not come to an agreement as to which is the Chinese New Year box office champion. Opinions on another movie, Hidden Blade, are so polarized as to provide another bundle of heated bickering on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
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Sunday's top 10 trending searches on Douyin (the Chinese equivalent of TikTok) as of 5:00 p.m. (0900 GMT)：
#1 Pfizer responds to alleged COVID mutation claims
The bombshell video of a man reported to be a Pfizer director of R&D [Note: 耿直哥 Frank Bro., news editor & opinion writer of Global Times, questioned his identity in a Jan. 29 article] admitting attempt to mutate the COVID virus so as to create new vaccines has sparked as much tumult in China as it did on Twitter, where it was originally released. Despite very few media exposure, the chance of a man-made COVID strain is a top concern of netizens both in China and in the West. On Douyin, there has been an angry backlash at Pfizer and pharmaceutical companies.
#2 Mother of Hu Xinyu: won't stop finding the truth about her son's death
After going missing at high school for 106 days, 15-year-old boy Hu Xinyu has been found dead in Qianshan County in east China's Jiangxi Province, said the local police on Jan. 29. Hu's body was found hanging in the woods with a voice recorder beside it in Hekou Town. Hu's mother released a video online and announced that she would not stop finding the truth about her son's death. Hu's family has decided to have an autopsy on their boy on Sunday afternoon.
#3 Sentries covered in snow on the northeast border
The eyelashes, eyebrows, and face masks of sentries in Yimuhe, a northeast sentry post of China, are frozen with frost in the extreme cold. The story, reported by the national state television, has received thousands of patriotic comments paying high regard to the Chinese army.
#4 The Knockout protagonist found to be based on real-life criminal
Probably the most watched show in China today, The Knockout 狂飙 tells a story about a front-line criminal police officer's struggle and fights with local evil forces. On whom the lord of the underworld is based has created ceaseless conjecture and intrigue. Many are appalled at the real criminal activities behind the screen.
Clip from The Knockout
#5 Much beloved sports star cried for 30 minutes after injury
Chinese American skiing star Ailing (Eileen) Gu said yesterday that she would quit X Games Aspen 2023 due to knee injuries. Chinese netizens appeared most sympathetic hearing that she cried for 30 minutes in the MRI machine. Gu became a household name in China during the Beijing Winter Olympics, and most recently won another championship at the World Cup in Calgary.
#6 Breastfeeding mom shielded by fellow passengers
A traveling mother was fortunate to get voluntary help from female passengers at the Beijing Railway Station, who by circling the lady provided much-needed privacy for breastfeeding. The act of kindness is felt warmly by netizens, especially mothers. Some are calling to make our cities breastfeeding-friendly.
#7 What is "death by hanging"
The explanation of "death by hanging" has been discussed again among netizens after the body of Hu Xinyu, a 15-year-old boy who went missing at a high school in Jiangxi Province over 3 months ago, has been found hanging in the woods in Hekou Town.
#8 Timeline: what happened during 106 days after Hu Xinyu's disappearance
According to China National Radio, it has been 106 days since Hu Xinyu's disappearance. On Oct. 14, 2022, the 15-year-old boy was last seen at school. The next day, Hu's families and teachers called the police and the case was registered and investigated at once. From November 2022 to the beginning of January 2023, a joint working group for this case was set up and multiple rescue searches have been carried out, but no valuable clues were found until Jan. 28 when the body of Hu Xinyu was found hanging in the woods. More details will be introduced in the next section.
#9 The hanging body in the woods has been confirmed to be Hu Xinyu
On Jan. 28, a hanging body was found in the woods with a voice recorder beside it in Hekou Town. The next day, on Jan. 29, the deceased was confirmed to be the missing boy Hu Xinyu after a DNA test, according to the local police. More information will be introduced in the next section.
#10 Why throw the money on the ground after refueling？The car owner replied
On Jan. 29, a video of people in a black Mercedes throwing money on the ground after refueling caused a heated discussion. According to WeVideo of the Beijing News, by courtesy of the gas station, the incident occurred on Jan. 23. The car owner responded that people in the car all offered to pay for the gas and that the money simply dropped out of the window in a mess, which is not meant to insult the gas station workers at all. The gas station said that psychological counseling had been given to the employees involved.
#1 Pfizer responds to alleged COVID mutation claims
A viral video released by Project Veritas on Thursday has garnered millions of clicks and lost no time in making its way into Chinese social media. The undercover video purportedly shows an alleged Pfizer director, named Jordon Trishton Walker, talking about mutating the COVID virus for preemptive vaccine profits. He was also seen to agree that virus mutation was the "ultimate cash cow". The footage ended with a chaotic attempt by the speaker to snatch the iPad from the cameraman and is now an equally chaotic swirlpool of speculation and controversy.
Pfizer made an official announcement on Friday that it "has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research", and that the vitro resistance selection experiments in question are done to ascertain "potential resistance mutations" to its COVID drugs.
The lengthy announcement, however, appeared to have no apparent effect on easing the situation, as the video continues to be circulated in differently edited versions.
On Chinese social media, the claim that Pfizer is creating new COVID variants is rapidly gaining popularity, while a smaller number of reports are more reserved saying Pfizer is contemplating such a possibility. Some are defending the Pfizer experiments, drawing similar research as clear vindication of the attempt to predict new virus strains. Supporters of Pfizer are also keen to point out the controversy surrounding Project Veritas, an undercover far-right "journalism enterprise" with a nasty record of producing half-truths and unevidenced reports.
Other fishy points include the questionable identity of Jordan Trishton Walker and possible misinterpretation of his remarks. However, it is noteworthy that the many Chinese netizens do accept the mutating claims as a bona fide scandal and that all the pharmaceutical giants, in all probability, are as much involved as possible.
Chinese netizens are also speaking about serious doubts as to collusion between pharmaceuticals and the U.S. government. One Douyin comment, "Am I right in thinking this is a typical example of American values? Spreading poison and selling medication at the same time?" has received 15,000 likes and over 200 replies.
Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the Global Times newspaper, seemed to be thinking in the same vein, as he published on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, his own review of the nature of events. "An exposure on this scale would no doubt trigger extremely serious public and government attention in China, resulting in detailed exposition from the company involved and quick moves of specific investigation teams from the government," he wrote, before questioning in turn the FDA, the FBI, the U.S. Congress, and the American press. Inaction from all of the above parties, he asserts, is evidence of a "revolving door" between American pharmaceuticals and the US administration.
Hu, in the end, joined the voices of thousands of others, in calling for a just investigation by the WHO and an explicit explanation from the FDA. Their voices, though, are not as commonplace as more depressing cries. There is one comment under almost every Pfizer related video, and almost none of them received less than one thousand likes, "It is Resident Evil in real life," says many a Douyin user.
#2, #7, #8 & #9: 15-year-old boy Hu Xinyu's case
On Sunday (Jan. 29), after going missing for 106 days, 15-year-old boy Hu Xinyu was found dead in Qianshan County, East China's Jiangxi Province, according to the local police. His body was hanging in the woods with a voice recorder beside it in Hekou Town. Hearing the confirmed death of the boy, Hu's mother posted a video online and said, "we will not stop digging out the truth about your death, my dear son." And Hu's family has decided to have an autopsy on their boy on Sunday afternoon.
According to the Paper, the critical time nodes after Hu Xinyu's disappearance should be as follows.
On Oct. 14, 2022, the 15-year-old boy was last seen leaving the school's dormitory.
The next day, Hu's families and teachers called the local police and the case was registered and investigated at once.
On Nov. 20, a local joint working group for this case was set up, consisting of police forces from provincial, city and county public security organs.
On Nov. 23, the 41st day since Hu Xinyu's disappearance, the Publicity Department of the Jiangxi Qianshan County Party Committee notified the establishment of a joint working team and the results of the investigation would be announced to the public in time.
On Jan. 1, 2023, the local police met with Hu's family and said Hu Xinyu "may have study-weariness, so he ran away from school on his own" but the claim still lacked supporting evidence.
One week later, on Jan. 7, the local police reported that no trace evidence of Hu's murder, suicide, or accident in the school had been found after multiple thorough searches about any suspicious area and related people. The existing information indicated that Hu Xinyu left the school on his own.
On Jan. 9, local people organized voluntary searches around the whole Qianshan county till Chinese New Year's Eve but still found no valuable clues.
It was not until Jan. 28 that local police received a call from the masses saying that a hanged corpse was found in the woods in the Jinjishan area of Hekou Town. After the DNA test, the deceased was confirmed to be the missing boy Hu Xinyu, reported by the local police on Jan. 29. And the voice recorder found beside the corpse has been sent to professional institutions for appraisal.
The mysterious and astounding disappearance of Hu Xinyu attracted long-lasting attention during the whole course of the event. In addition to expecting justice and expressing their sorrow for Hu's case, netizens have volunteered to be investigators, suggesting their inquiries and inferences. First, Hu Xinyu's body was finally found just near the school, so it is strange why no trace was found after repeated searches before. Second, if Hu hanged himself at the time of disappearance, why didn’t the body smell strange, and even the police dogs didn’t smell anything abnormal in rescue?
After heated discussion and analysis, netizens believe that the priority question to be answered is when did Hu Xinyu die. On the one hand, if he has just committed suicide recently, where had he been in the last three months? Or if he committed suicide a long time ago, why did the police search find nothing? And what was the motivation for his suicide? On the other hand, if it was a homicide, why didn't the murderer just destroy the corpse and wipe out the traces but hung up the corpse in an area so close to the school?
Therefore, the key to digging out the truth is to first find out the exact time of Hu Xinyu's death. For now, there is still a lot of work to be done by the relevant departments, such as the analysis of the autopsy report and the content of the voice recorder, which needs continuous follow-up attention.
It's worth noting that the search for Hu, which was led by local police and covered various areas across Qianshan county, has won widespread support on Chinese social media.
“We need to see him in person if he is alive, and his remains if he is not. If we leave it unsettled, the next one could be our own kid. Please keep searching,” one online observer commented on the live-streaming platform, Douyin. -- SCMP