May 21

Internet Mob Rides Again – Liaoning Bitch-Girl

Written by Buxi on Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 at 5:35 pm
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Zhang Ya (张雅) (UPDATE: New name, see more below) has become the latest target of the Internet lynch mob. She is a 21 year old girl from Liaoning, and probably receiving far more hostility than even Grace Wang.

Here is her crime:

I won’t translate what she wrote in full, but it’s basically a 5 minute long, disgusting diatribe against the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. She calls them beggars, ask why their corpses are always showing up on TV, and calls on them to all die as quickly as possible.

The Western media gave extensive coverage to Grace Wang, and described her as the victim of “nationalists” uninterested in political debate. In reality, the Internet lynch mob is the dangerous side effect of a wild and unruly Internet community that ruthlessly enforces a basic set of morality.

Everything about Zhang Ya is now known; where she lives, her telephone number, her personal id information. Typically, this means she will have been bombarded with thousands of harassing online messages and telephone calls at every location she’s ever been associated with.

These messages allegedly from her family members (many such posts have been proven to be forgeries in the past) have now also been posted online:

Message 1: Zhang Ya is my daughter, and as parents, we have failed in educating her. She’s still ignorant to the ways of the world. During this time of great suffering for the entire nation, she’s done something that the Chinese people can not forgive and can not accept. I know that everyone can’t forgive her, and the law won’t forgive her, but I hope all of you can understand the concern we have, as parents, for our child. I can only say to the people of Sichuan, the people of China: I’m sorry! Zhang Ya’s almost in emotional collapse… please, please don’t push her any more. We will give everyone an explanation, give the people of Sichuan an explanation. I know after this news came out her mother has been very worried… she almost can’t walk straight. I hope everyone can forgive her, okay? Her mother and I work in other parts of the country, but we will return to Liaoning immediately… please, please don’t harm her. Speaking as a father, this is my heart-felt apology and hope. As far as this unfilial daughter, we will work harder to supervise her, monitor her in the future. Her mother and I have decided that we will donate all of our savings to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. I hope that we can all work hard to make it past this difficult period. I’m kneeling in front of the Sichuan people!!!”

Message 2: I hope everyone can see this in a logical way. Zhang Ya’s behavior is just representative of all those ignorant children. Things like Audition (a game), Non-Mainstream (非主流, a culture/entertainment site)… the modern web has harmed and injured so many youths. Regardless of whether everyone can forgive her, as her parents we will absolutely tightly control and teach her going forward. I hope everyone can consider this incident from a logical perspective. I’m not expecting that everyone can forgive her, but at this moment of national trouble, I hope everyone can reach out with your helping hand and forgive this ignorant little girl. Zhang Ya only said these ignorant things because we didn’t teach and manager her properly. All of the responsibility for this lies on our shoulders as her parents. Please, everyone stop looking for her, we’re beginning!

Message 3: Hello to all netizens, I am Zhang Ya’s brother. I’m currently in Shenzhen, and just received my sister’s call this afternoon. After watching this video, to tell you the truth, I’m also disgusted… but she really didn’t mean it in a malicious way, it was just an impulsive moment of frustration that led her to say what she said: the world’s most disgusting, poisonous words. Now she’s really regretful, and really scared, she had no idea things would get this blown up. At the time, she just felt that the 3-day moratorium on all entertainment activities was too forced, and at a moment’s impulse recorded that video. But she knows she was wrong, now… I hope everybody can lessen the anger in their heart. Everyone can make mistakes, and she will give an explanation to the Chinese people, she will apologize to everyone… I’m preparing to go home right now, and I will take her to Sichuan so she can see for herself.

These comments have alleviated some of the heat. From the perspective of Chinese culture, an apology is in itself very meaningful.

There are still numerous netizens who are anything but satisfied with these responses. But there are also different voices on this issue in the Chinese Internet that suggests progress and growing maturity. The first impulse of many netizens was calling for Zhang Ya to be arrested immediately; and in a sense, that’s already progress over individuals taking matters into their own hands. Many called the Liaoning police authorities and demanded official action; many cheered the (completely unsubstantiated) rumor that she was being investigated, and had already been detained. But other netizens defended her right to free speech, and insisted that she and her family should not be arrested or harmed.

This has led to a discussion of which laws might apply to her case, and might be grounds for legal punishment. Some looked up the relevant clauses of the Law on Public Security Administration Punishments (中华人民共和国治安管理处罚法), and argued that the 42nd and 47th clauses (on defamation, and speech endangering public stability) should apply in this case. For a country that 20 years ago effectively had no legal system, this suggests an attempt to bring in “rule of law” is finally beginning to show some fruit.

UPDATE: Just came across this official news report from Sina, and it looks like everything above is completely fake. The real girl’s name is Gao Qianhui (高千惠), and she has been detained for investigation. Little else is known. This just goes to show how truly chaotic the Chinese internet is.

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19 Responses to “Internet Mob Rides Again – Liaoning Bitch-Girl”

  1. Buxi Says:

    A follow-on debate from Mitbbs:


    – A defense of the Liaoning girl –

    I think this is completely normal. You can tell she’s from Shenyang. Shenyang’s Tiexi district had 700k workers fired from state owned enterprises, and were given only 175 RMB a month; they only didn’t want you to starve to death. All the kids in that area grew up digging through garbage dumps for food scraps; everyone there hates the Communist Party to death.

    I lived in Shenyang for 11 years, and I’ve never seen anyone from Tiexi district say a single good word about the Communist Party. All of the kids there have had their souls oppressed and twisted; can’t afford food, can’t afford clothes. Other than cursing, what else can they do? The first people to rise up and overthrow the Communist Party will be the northeast provinces; just wait and see.

    Just think about it, if from childhood you couldn’t afford food, couldn’t afford new clothes… then your personality can only be extremely selfish, you couldn’t care less whether other people lived or died, and you’d take pleasure in the misfortune of others. This kind of people is everywhere in China, and at the root of it… it’s all because of the Communist Party. Social security pensions have been taken; in the northeast, not even enough money’s left to issue basic social welfare checks. Wait until people are almost dead of famine, violent riots will break out. Maybe all of you were very fortunate as children, you had food to eat and clothes to wear at home, but those people from the old industrial areas in the northeast can’t even afford food. This is why so many prostitutes are from the northeast; what else are you going to do when you’re starving.

    Go watch the movie “West of the Tracks”. All of the people there have lost any hope of living; how can they not curse? It’s all they can do to vent. The area that girl lives in, Hushitai, I have a friend who lives in that area. Do you know how many houses were forcibly demolished? Do you know how evil it is there? My friends’ home was demolished in the middle of the night, tractors ran over everything, city management beat them out into the streets. The hearts of the people over there are filled with hatred, and I can understand why, their lives are even harder than the earthquake victims.

  2. Buxi Says:

    One rebuttal, also from MITBBS:

    Did you leave Shenyang in ’99?

    I’ve lived in Shenyang since I was a kid. Tons of my classmates are from Tiexi district. If you had said this a few years earlier, I would’ve believed you. But things have changed dramatically in recent years.

    Earlier, right around 1998, heavy industries in the Tiexi district were heavily affected by reform policies. There were huge numbers of unemployed state workers, and the entire city district neared collapse. A lot of people liked going to Tiexi to get their shoe-shined at the time; you could get two for the price of one in other areas. Later in 1999 when Falun Gong was stirring up things, Tiexi is also the area where there were the most Falun Gong, because there were tons of unemployed people in the area. Housing prices in Tiexi were the cheapest in Shenyang, although prices everywhere in Shenyang was pretty cheap. CCTV even had a program on Tiexi district, talking about how difficult life was.

    But after 2000 (ed. actually in 2003), the country started a campaign to revitalize the northeast’s old industrial areas, and Tiexi district became the first winners under this policy. This entire area (as well as Huinan New District) has been turned upside down. Not excessive to say that it’s been completely reborn. All of the heavy industries in the area were moved to less expensive suburban areas, and the land that was originally in the area was given to smaller businesses that pollute less, or even real estate investment. The profits from this investment was used to clear out some old debts, and also to cover social security and health insurance for some of the previous employees. Phoenix TV just broadcast a program on Tiexi’s reconstruction; interested friends can take a look.

    In 2006, before I left, Tiexi was already very beautiful, including great landscaping. Housing prices was already #1 or #2 in Shenyang. Eating and chatting with my friends from Tiexi, they were all winners during this process. Many of the retired/unemployed families that couldn’t afford food doesn’t have to worry about warmth + food, and their social security + health insurance problems have been solved. I really have to emphasize one point: in Shenyang, 1500 RMB a month can let you live very comfortably. My retired parents are below the average line in Shenyang, their retirement pensions added together is only 1300 RMB; but they spend only about half of this amount, and already live very comfortably.

  3. Buxi Says:

    Another rebuttal:

    As someone who grew up and lived in Dalian (which is on the edge of the three northeastern provinces) for 18 years, and as someone who studied/lived/worked in Shenyang for 7 years, I have to come out and pierce your evil and false lies. By the way, my wife grew up and lived in Shenyang for all 24 years of her life, and has homes in both the city of Shenyang and nearby village of Sujiadun. I think I have the right to speak.

    First of all, no normal person would defend what the Liaoning girl said. What she said is simply anti-humanity and anti-society. You can also hear what she said in the video: she ignorantly blames Sichuan for being so poor that their beggers have flooded Shenyang. And she’s just angry she can’t play her online games. She has a twisted and evil soul alright, but it’s not because she’s been oppressed, but its because she has too much in life.

    You said everyone there hates the Communist Party, never seen anyone say anything good about the Communist Party, all of the kids eat from the garbage… why have I never seen that? Many of my friends/colleagues are from Tiexi district, and some of them have parents who were laid off in the late ’90s. But everyone lives normally, I’ve never heard of anyone eating or dressing differently from the rest of us, and definitely weren’t anyone digging through the garbage. I definitely haven’t seen anyone with the hatred towards the country and government that you describe. Actually, everyone seems pretty ready to hate the Japanese and American governments. What you’re saying is very irresponsible, you’re misleading those who haven’t lived in the Northeast.

    Oh that’s right, there was someone in my class from Harbin who really hated the country and the government… but she thought the government shouldn’t be investing funds to revitalize these old industrial areas in the northeast, she thought all the capital should be gathered and used in Shanghai instead. This woman really loved the United States too, thought everything the US did was right.

    After all that, I’ve been in the US for 3 years. I’ve traveled to 15 different states in East/Central/Southern US. My biggest feeling is that life here is incredibly different from what we saw in the movies, and life is incredibly repetitive… many states and cities look identical. The best part of being here is that there are few people, and work pressure is also far less. You can get by without worrying about the world. But recreational activities and friendships can’t come close to the fun we had in Shenyang and Dalian. I don’t want to waste time here comparing these two places, but I can responsibly say: my life in China was far more comfortable and happier than it is here. What has attracted me here is the educational and research opportunities, which are far better than that in China. Also, for the same amount of work, I can make much more money.

  4. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    the story/tone of the first defense is very familiar with lots of similar stories/tone on some free paper found overseas.

  5. overseaschinese Says:

    Haha, you want to link this coldhearted bitch with opposition to the CCP. In fact, she is just an embodiment of the coldhearted logic of CCP rule, not only in the present era, but also in the Maoist era of revolutionary competition: screw everyone else, me first. She is a good student of CCP culture.

  6. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    well, any bad thing must be linked with CCP

  7. Buxi Says:


    I guess the CCP hasn’t done a very good job of brain-washing other Chinese as effectively, then. This “coldhearted bitch” seems to be a rather unique example, openly despised by all other Chinese.

  8. snow Says:

    Calling CCP “coldhearted” and “brutal” has been a hot fashion for years. In fact the causes for many horrible events in recent Chinese history (including the mao time) is extremely complex under complicated circumstances, domestically and internationally. How could a brutal CCP came to power in 1949 in replace of GMD in the first place? I don’t want to go into that issue arguing now.

    There are evil spirited persons in real life and this girl is one of them, simple as that.

  9. snow Says:

    having lived in miserable life is certainly no excuse for her being heartlessly vicious at this moment, especially when she has made her vicious voice heard in public domain. we’ve read from news that even the beggars in China have donated money to the earthquake victims in past days. tolerance without principle to the point of being amoral is cheap.

  10. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    if “She is a good student of CCP culture” then thousands of volunteers poured in SiChuan from all of China and millions of have donated must be good students of anyone not CCP.

    this ignorant girl,I see “coldhearted bitch” is a very violent word, was complaining of not be able to play online games during the 3 days which didn’t indicate she had a miserable life of digging through garbage dumps.

  11. Opersai Says:

    So, I’m a little confused. Was the apologies from her parents fake? Was the defending of her on the forums fake? Was the ppl looking up laws to bring her to arrest fake?

    I was somewhat ready to forgive, well, not her, but her family on the note of apology from her parents and brother. If the apologies are fake, then it’s really sad.

  12. Buxi Says:


    Your guess is as good as mine, at this point!

    But it’s probably safe to say the “apologies” from her relatives are clearly fake, since they name a person that doesn’t exist. Some thought Gao might have posted these messages as a way of taking pressure off of herself.

    All of the subsequent discussion *about* the case are real… as real as anything else we type into a computer.

  13. DJ Says:


    FYI, the NY Times just reported this incident and referenced your entry.

    I am a bit disappointed that NYT had this following line while referencing you though: “… did not make clear what law Gao was alleged to have broken in her online outburst.” Did the reporter really read the whole entry, including the last paragraph?

  14. Buxi Says:


    Pretty damn cool. 🙂 Any idea if they published it in print, or if its just in the online edition?

    I’ll defend their article a little here; they’re correct that the official *report* that I linked doesn’t say specifically under what law Gao was detained.

    But it’s certainly disappointing that they didn’t mention that several laws might potentially apply.

  15. J Says:

    Buxi, I understand where you’re coming from. However, I don’t necessarily think this girl is complaining due to her “suffering” from lack of food and nourishment. She complained about missing entertainment and her internet game.

    She’s not complaining about how her family is devastated and suffering just as badly as the quake victims. Instead, she’s telling them to die quicker because she doesn’t want to miss her fun and games. That’s what I have a problem with. She, by no means, has to feel sympathetic to any of the victims. But, condemning someone for their misfortune, especially on a public domain, is asking to be attacked.

  16. Opersai Says:

    rebutting the first argument posted by Buxi,

    Perhaps what you wrote was true, perhaps not, since I had not live in that region. However, I do not feel what you wrote is relevant to this case at all. The girl is complaining about lack entertainment instead of lack of food or shelter or anything along that side. See, being able to spend money in internet cafe and play online games indicate she is not at all in the situation you described her. In fact, I would say that she’s at least somewhat well off. She showed no compassion to the victims to the earthquake. She displays the traits of a spoiled brat that had never experienced any hardship at all. If she had suffered as you described before, would she not at least relate a little to the suffering of the victims from Sichuan? Wouldn’t she be a little bit more sympathetic to them?

    To DJ,

    I read the NY Times article. I think it’s a little irresponsible as a professional journalism to report this event on the sole base of internet blog without checking source to see if the story is actually true or accurate. I am not saying this blog is false or lying about this, but a responsible journalist should always check source. At least try to contact the state department that attained her and ask if the event’s true and under what law was she attained. If they refuse to tell, then at least say they did it, but the department declined to answer.

  17. Nimrod Says:

    I’m willing to view this girl as a comedian with a really bad sense of timing. Even the late night TV hosts in the US paused their hijinx after 9/11. Maybe in a few years we can look back at this as biting and controversial social commentary.

  18. ddd Says:

    I like her

  19. ChinaBoy Says:

    shit shit shit
    The Communist Party and Liaoning have the wrong girl

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