A Shanghai woman’s alleged use of government connections to obtain emergency medical aid in Tibet has sparked outrage on Chinese social media, with netizens saying it highlighted the inequalities caused by abuse of government power by China’s elite. A few days later, local media in Shanghai published a so-called “truth” report that refuted claims of abuse of power by the privileged and portrayed the entire incident as a “good guy doing a good deed.” But netizens said they didn’t buy it and thought it was just an official attempt to quell public anger.
The story of the “Blood Tank Sister” incident
A woman surnamed Yu from Shanghai was involved in a car accident while traveling in Ali, Tibet in mid-October. After receiving rescue, her husband, Mr. Tao, told her in a WeChat conversation that he contacted the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission through his sister-in-law. The department then contacted the Tibetan Ali authorities, who mobilized “all public servants in the autonomous region” to donate blood. , including police station police, fire officers and soldiers, and army officers and soldiers.
“The entire Alibaba Autonomous Region has been transfused with type A blood for you,” Mr. Tao told Ms. Yu during the chat. “A total of more than 7,000 milliliters, and you have had blood transfusions all over your body twice.”
Ms. Yu was then sent to Sichuan by chartered flight for further assistance.
Ms. Yu posted the experience on the Chinese social media Douyin, but was quickly criticized. Netizens not only believe that Ms. Yu has received preferential treatment that is difficult for ordinary people to obtain through government connections, but also complain that civil servants have become “mobile blood bags” for the privileged class. This is where the title “Sister Blood Slot” comes from.
The WeChat public account “Basic Common Sense” commented in an article on November 29: “In fact, these are reasonable and normal basic rights of critically ill patients. However, due to the long-term shortage of medical resources, ordinary people cannot fully Enjoy it, and official departments at all levels have little incentive to help ordinary patients. So when a family with some financial resources and energy really does this and shows it online, it will cause a strong backlash in public opinion.”
After the incident spread online, Shangguan News and The Paper, both affiliates of Shanghai’s officially controlled Shanghai Media Group, organized a team of reporters to investigate the matter. Their findings said Ms Yu and her husband, Mr Tao, did not use their government connections to seek privileges.
According to reports, Mr. Tao’s aunt was just a retired worker. She did not contact the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission. Instead, she contacted the Shanghai Municipal Government’s Tibet Office through messages sent by multiple relatives and friends. After receiving the news, the local government in Tibet launched emergency rescue, and “there were no actions due to improper factors such as personal relationships.”
A staff member of the Ali government told the media that there were indeed civil servants donating blood to Ms. Yu, but “it was not an official organization.” Ali’s hospital also said that the hospital’s blood bank inventory was in short supply, so it asked employees and the public for help. Among those who came to donate blood were “dozens of public officials.”
The charter flight that Ms. Yu later took was hired by her family after raising 1.2 million yuan through loans and other methods, and was not arranged by the government. In the report, Ms. Yu’s mother told a reporter from the Shanghai media: “My sky is shattered. You know, our family doesn’t have that much savings, and our daughter has just gotten married. But we only have this one and only daughter, so we must save her life no matter what. ”
As for why he told his wife during the chat that his sister-in-law contacted the Shanghai Health Commission, Mr. Tao told the media that he just wanted to highlight the efforts of his family. The fact that all local civil servants donated blood was also “exaggerated,” he said.
The media’s “restoration” of the truth is questioned
After the joint report between Shangguan News and The Paper was released, Hu Xijin, a special commentator and former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, expressed on Weibo that the content of the report was credible: “Lao Hu believes in the objectivity of The Paper’s report, and the details are all true and based on factual evidence. , so it is significantly more convincing than the labels superimposed on the Internet.”
But he also expressed his understanding of the anger of netizens: “No matter where they are, the sick and injured are not abandoned, and those in need are rescued. Our society needs to make unremitting efforts in this direction. The strong emotions expressed by everyone in this incident are actually It’s a call to this beautiful vision.”
However, a large number of netizens said that the media report could not convince them.
“After thinking about it for so long, I finally remembered that my aunt is a retired worker. The script has been written. Please start your performance,” one comment on Weibo said sarcastically.
“Look, it’s such a coincidence that it all comes together,” another comment said.
Huang Zhijie, a Chinese media person who once served as deputy director of the investigative journalism department of Xinhua News Agency’s “Oriental Outlook Weekly” , raised several questions about the Shanghai media’s investigative news in a WeChat article .
He pointed out that the report cited a large number of anonymous interviewees, including multiple references to “relevant departments” and “local neighborhood committees,” which made the source of information unclear. “Whenever you encounter the words ‘according to our knowledge’ and ‘relevant departments’, you must edit them. They are pitfalls and must be avoided,” he wrote.
In addition, Huang Zhijie also pointed out that the Alibaba government’s statement to the Shanghai media was contradictory to the statement in the official announcement. Ali’s government told the media that it had not organized government personnel to donate blood. However, in the WeChat announcement issued by the Ali Fire Department on the incident on October 16 , it clearly stated: “In order to save the patient’s life, the detachment leaders attached great importance to it and immediately organized fire rescue personnel from all teams in the area who met the blood donation requirements to actively participate in blood donation. We will fulfill our solemn oath of ‘serving the people wholeheartedly’ with practical actions.”
Huang Zhijie wrote in the article: “What is an investigation? An investigation is not about what a person says, but what a person or an organization said, and the interviewer verifies and verifies it through multiple channels. This process includes supporting evidence, Witnesses and documentary evidence form a convincing chain of evidence. With this kind of investigative reporting, a sense of power naturally arises, and readers are naturally convinced.”
The government must strictly control the media
As for the people’s disbelief in the “refutation of rumors” by media under official control, former Southern Metropolis Daily and Beijing News chief editor Yizhong, who now lives in the United States, said that this is inevitable in an environment where the government strictly controls the media. The phenomenon.
“All media and social media in China, including all literary, artistic and social science products, have lost credibility,” he told VOA. “The more official propaganda explains and guides, the less the public believes it, the more speculations and interpretations attract attention, and the farther the truth becomes from the public.”
“Every surge of public opinion in mainland China is actually the public venting their serious dissatisfaction and extreme distrust of the party-state government. It is an outlet for the public to collectively vent their anger and despair,” he added.
Shanghai officials have begun online follow-up work on this matter. On Friday (December 8), Shanghai’s Internet Information Office said it had banned a number of social media accounts for “randomly fabricating plots, spreading rumors and fabricating the identities of family members.”