Viola Zhou

Viola Zhou

Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. She covered Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

Murder of the ‘perfect victim’ exposes societal failure to protect women against domestic violence
Having survived repeated beatings by her ex-husband, Lhamo, a young Tibetan woman, was turning her life around when the unthinkable happened.  On the evening of September 14, the man she had divorced less than three months ago made a surprise visit to her home on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in southwestern China. He was carrying a knife and a bucket of gasoline.  Tang Lu doused his ex-wife and set her on fire. Two weeks later, the 30-year-old mother of two died in a coma, with burns covering 90% of her body.  The killing has led to a moment of reckoning in a country that has struggled to curb violence against women, despite rising awareness of domestic abuse and recent legislation to pr
Walking your dog could get your dog killed in Yunnan
A Chinese county is reconsidering a controversial policy that would have required authorities to capture and kill dogs if their owner walked them in public three times. In a notice published last week, Weixin county in the southwestern province of Yunnan said all dogs must be kept in captivity and it issued harsh punishments for people who violated the new rule.   First-time “dog walker” offenders would be subject to warnings while people caught a second time could be fined between 50 to 200 yuan ($7.6 to $30.5).  But if someone is caught walking their dog in public three times, their pets will be captured and then killed. The harsh regulation triggered a wave of criticism online.  “When hav
China Trends: ‘Versailles style’ mocked on social media
China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. ‘Versailles literature’  “Versailles literature” refers to a social media writing technique that allows one to flaunt their wealth or success in a subtle way.  Social media has made it easy for people to compare their lives with others, and like internet users elsewhere, many Chinese share what they do online as a way of showing off.  One method is to mention items that indicate one’s wealth or status in a seemingly unintentional or negative way.  Critics jokingly call that “Versailles literature,” while those good at this way of flaunting are du
Chinese children are becoming taller. Here’s why
Rapid economic growth in China has led to major improvements in quality of life and, according to a recent study, Chinese teenagers have achieved significant gains in height over the past 35 years. In 1985, the average height of 19-year-old women was 5.2 feet and that of 19-year-old men 5.5 feet. In 2019, the corresponding figures were 5.4 feet and 5.8 feet respectively.  According to the study, published in the medical journal The Lancet this month, the increase in boys’ height is the largest in the world. The improvement in girls’ height is the third largest. The study analyses children’s physical growth in different countries by pooling height and body mass index data from 193 countries.
China’s mandatory sex ed classes are first step on a long road
China has made sex education mandatory for schoolchildren, as growing awareness of sexual harassment and gender inequality prompts calls from parents to improve the country’s sexual literacy.  For the first time, a revised law on protecting minors, passed by the top legislative body on October 17, requires schools and kindergartens to conduct “age-appropriate sex education” for children. It is unclear how the government plans to implement mandatory “sex education.” The law, which comes into effect on the International Children’s Day of June 1 next year, only mentions sexual abuse prevention.  Issues like LGBT rights – a topic that often triggers censorship – will have a slim chance of gettin
Hairy crabs make an unusual tool for corruption in China
Hairy crabs, a popular delicacy famed for its creamy orange roe and juicy, protein-rich meat, are sought-after gifts in China during the fall season.  The crustaceans are so prized that they have in the past been used to bribe government officials. Like clockwork, the Communist Party’s corruption watchdog sounds the alarm every year and warns against potential legal troubles caused by sharing luxury crabs. Chinese authorities have published several officials during anti-graft campaigns for receiving high-valued gifts such as hairy crabs. But despite that, Chinese people still try to win favors from powerful people by sending them the crustaceans.  For example, in Hangzhou, in the eastern pr
Parents complain about getting assignments from WeChat groups
One perk of graduating from school is the prospect of never having to do homework ever again. Or at least that’s the idea.  A viral video showing a parent complaining about her “assignments” from their children’s schools have prompted an online outcry against the so-called “parent chat groups.” In recent years, most urban schools in China have set up chat groups for parents on the ubiquitous messaging app WeChat, to facilitate the communication between parents and teachers.  But parents say the chat groups have now become a way for teachers to give assignments to not only children but also the adults.  Screenshots shared online have shown teachers asking parents to check their children’s hom
China Trends: China’s massive population census, and a man fired for cat torture
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. The biggest population census The Chinese government is sending some seven million workers to collect information from every household for the country’s 7th national population census. The census, conducted every 10 years, is aimed at providing the most accurate information about the age, education, occupation, marital and migration status of people living in the world’s most populous nation. While the work will officially kick off on November 1, census takers in some regions have already begun their door-to-door visits
China Trends: BTS fans caught in online fury, and woman falls in love with fake celebrity account
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. Idols or motherland? China’s BTS fans caught in online fury BTS fans in China are debating whether they should abandon their beloved idols after the group endorsed the alliance between South Korea and America in the Korean War.  Chinese nationalists were angered after the band’s leader RM told an awards ceremony that the group would always remember South Korea’s “history of pain” and shared “sacrifices” with the United States. During the 1950-53 Korean War, Chinese troops fought alongside North Korea against a US-led co
From China with mystery: how unsolicited seed packages fed conspiracy fears
Onion farmer Chris Pawelski of Warwick, New York, was curious in July when he found a package in his postbox that he had not ordered. The shipping label indicated it came from Shenzhen, a technology hub in southern China. It was also printed with “wire connector” in English and “rings” in Chinese. When Pawelski, 53, opened it, he found neither a wire connector nor jewelry, but a tiny plastic bag of mixed seeds. He is one of the thousands of people worldwide who received such seeds in recent months, which have drawn warnings from authorities the US amid speculation that they could be anything from a prank to bioweapons. In response to growing concerns, Amazon in September banned seed sales in