In a case of “truth is stranger than fiction,” a series of newspapers in China reported that a man struck up a romance with his daughter-in-law online – by accident. The father-in-law, Wang Pai, was 57, and the daughter-in-law, Lili, was 28, according to the original story. The story started in China, and reached around the viral world.
In a country like China, with a population of 7.13 billion, it seems unlikely that one would meet up with a family member in a romance chat room. One never knows, does one? However, that is what allegedly happened to the 57-year-old man, Wang Pai, who was using the handle Good at Understanding People.
In the chat room, Good at Understanding People meets Lili, whose handle is Lonely Flowers and Plants. They hit it off, and before too long, they plan to meet. In the interest of brevity and space, the punchline is this: Lili accidentally leaves her computer on, and her husband arrives home from a business trip early. He finds the emails she has exchanged with Wang Pai. The husband goes and finds them at a hotel room, and then ends up in trouble with the police for beating his father and wife.
Now guess what? It’s fake.
A newspaper in China broke the story. The Heilongjiang Morning Post now says it was a hoax, and the paper had been deceived by the Muling City Television story. The Heilongjiang Morning Post issued an apology for having released the hoax and for having published the story without an in-depth interview.
In a commentary to the story that was more disturbing than the hoax story, the newspaper ChinaSMACK – known for translating its Chinese commentaries into English – had a reader that decided to say this about that:
“The government is too nice to women these days! Resulting in women being too wanton and unbridled.”
Though one cannot be sure, that certainly sounds like a commentary from China. Chances are no American would be able to talk like that, whether serious or poking fun.
The commentator goes on to say:
“My wife doesn’t work and spends all day associating with society’s idle people, not even doing housework.” That’s hard to believe.
Well, one cannot be sure if even the commentary is a hoax. That is the problem with these things. What starts off as a harmless prank may soon escalate into an international incident. However, one assumes this is the only time that the Chinese press have faked information, maybe even faked a few commentaries, and one moves on.
So, is that the end of it? Just one more cheesy, made-up pseudo-news story? Is it just another case of Chinese newspaper admits to ‘man meets daughter-in-law online’ hoax?
Well, almost, but not quite.
What about that cheesy pic?
The story appeared in many publications around the world, first with Muling City Television, then getting picked up by The Heilongjiang Morning Post , and then it was picked up by ChinaSMACK and Daily Mail. From there it emerged onto the world stage, and the story went viral globally.
In one report, police from Bamiantong Town Muling City police station were involved. Therefore, were police from Bamiantong Town Muling City police station involved in perpetrating this hoax? That is, if the picture of the police at the door is therefore also fake, then does that not imply that the police were in on the hoax? This could cause an international incident, or something like it.
Well, hopefully not.
However, it is not enough that the Chinese newspaper admits to the “man meets daughter-in-law online” hoax. It would seem that Chinese police and journalists are now running the risk of being treated like the boy who cried wolf. How does one say “credibility gap” in Chinese?
Editorial by Alex Durig, Ph.D.