Photo shows fashion blogger, not victim of restaurant attack in China's Tangshan

·3 min read

A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple Chinese-language posts that claim it shows a 19-year-old victim of an attack on a group of women at a restaurant in the northeastern Chinese city of Tangshan that sparked outrage. In fact, the photo has been shared in a false context. It was actually published by a fashion blogger in November 2019, who said she was not a victim in the assault. None of the attack victims listed in a statement by Hebei police in June were 19 years old or had the same surname as the fashion blogger.

The woman's photo was featured in a video published on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, on June 17, 2022.

The superimposed simplified Chinese-language text translates to English as: "Get well soon. May the rest of your life be well. She is only 19."

"Trust the government trust the party, evil forces will not come to a good end #Pray for the injured girl in Tangshan," the video is titled.

A screenshot, taken on July 5, 2022, of the misleading post.

The post circulated after viral footage of a violent assault on a group of women at a restaurant in Tangshan in Hebei province sparked outrage over predatory sexual behaviour.

The Tangshan incident renewed an online debate about sexual harassment and gender-based violence in China where the conversation around women's rights has grown in recent years despite pressure from a patriarchal society, internet censorship and patchy legal support.

The same photo has been shared more than 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 from the Tangshan attack.

Blogger's photo

A reverse image search on Baidu found the same photo published 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 Japanese super short hairstyle! Hairstyles for girls with round faces," her post is titled.

The post also included seven more photos of Huang.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo featured in the misleading posts (left) and the photo published by the Chinese blogger (right):

A screenshot comparison of the photo featured in the misleading post (left) and the photo published by the Chinese blogger (right). 

Huang later clarified in a post that her photo was taken out of context and that she was not one of the victims of the Tangshan attack.

Her simplified Chinese-language post translates as: "My photo has been stolen! ! I am not the girl who was beaten up in Tangshan ... this incident should not be used for promotion or to manufacture debate."

She has also been active on her social media platform throughout June, including the evening of June 10, the same day as the Tangshan assault.

Attack victims

According to a statement published by the spokesperson of the Hebei Police Department on June 21 on Weibo, the four victims of the Tangshan attack have the surnames Wang, Liu, Yuan and Li.

None were teenagers -- they were aged 31, 29, 24 and 29 respectively.

The same misleading posts were also debunked by Hong Kong fact-checking organisation Annie Lab.

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