A photo has been shared thousands of times in several Chinese-language posts that claim to show a 19-year-old victim of an attack on a group of women at a restaurant in the northeast Chinese city of Tangshan, which sparked outrage. In fact, the photo was shared in a false context. It was actually posted by a fashion blogger in November 2019, who said she was not a victim of the assault. None of the attack victims listed in a Hebei police statement in June were 19 or had the same last name as the fashion blogger.
The woman’s photo was featured in a video posted on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, on June 17, 2022.
The superimposed simplified Chinese text translates to English as: “Get well soon. May the rest of your life be well. She is only 19 years old.
“Trust the government, trust the party, the forces of evil will not end well #Pray for the injured girl in Tangshan,” the video is titled.
A screenshot, taken on July 5, 2022, of the misleading message.
The post circulated after viral footage of a violent assault on a group of women at a restaurant in Tangshan, Hebei province sparked outrage over predatory sexual behavior.
The Tangshan incident has rekindled an online debate about sexual harassment and gender-based violence in China where the conversation about women’s rights has grown in recent years despite pressure from a patriarchal society, internet censorship and uneven legal support.
The same photo has been shared over 1000 times on Twitter, Douyin and Facebook alongside the same claim.
However, the photo was shared in a false context — it does not show a victim of the Tangshan attack.
The blogger’s photo
A reverse image search on Baidu found the same photo posted by a blogger called Huang Xiao Xiao on Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu on November 23, 2019.
Huang describes herself as a fashion and photography blogger. She has more than 104,000 followers on Xiaohongshu.
“Sharing super short Japanese hairstyles! Hairstyles for girls with round faces,” her post is titled.
The message also included seven other photos of Huang.
Below is a screenshot comparing the photo featured in the misleading posts (left) and the photo posted by the Chinese blogger (right):
A screenshot comparing the photo featured in the misleading post (left) and the photo posted by the Chinese blogger (right).
Huang later clarified in a message that her photo was taken out of context and that she was not one of the victims of the Tangshan attack.
Her message in simplified Chinese translates to: “My photo has been stolen!! I am not the girl who was beaten in Tangshan…this incident should not be used for promotion or to fabricate a debate.”
She was also active on her social media platform throughout June, including the evening of June 10, the same day as the Tangshan assault.
Victims of attacks
According to a statement posted by the Hebei Police Department spokesperson on June 21 on Weibo, the four victims of the Tangshan attack have the surnames of Wang, Liu, Yuan and Li.
None were teenagers — they were 31, 29, 24 and 29 respectively.
The same misleading messages have also been debunked by Hong Kong fact-checking organization Annie Lab.