Quirky China: Epic chopsticks stunt, province may restrict burning ancestor paper and man gets social media boot for mannerisms

·4-min read

This week in China, a man got his 15-minutes of fame for picking up an egg with gigantic chopsticks, one Chinese province may be calling an end to an important tradition, and a man looking for love gets banned from Weibo for his strange mannerisms.

Not breaking eggs

A 50-year-old man in eastern China has gone viral online for his ability to lift tiny objects with giant chopsticks. Photo: Pear Video
A 50-year-old man in eastern China has gone viral online for his ability to lift tiny objects with giant chopsticks. Photo: Pear Video

A cook from eastern China is being called “number one iron chopsticks” after he used a pair of gigantic chopsticks to pick up an egg from the ground without breaking it.

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Zhao Wenqi’s handmade chopsticks were 4.6 metres (15 feet) long, weighed 14kg (31 pounds) and were made primarily out of iron, along with a small amount of wood.

The 50-year-old is not new to performing extraordinary feats of chopstick expertise. In the past 17 years, he has performed on dozens of television programmes, both domestic and international.

Zhao admitted to spending more time practising his chopsticks skills than the time he spends on his full-time job.

The chopsticks were the sixth pair made by Zhao. His first pair were 0.95 metres (3.1 feet) long and he increased the length of the chopsticks every time he made a new pair.

Banning paper offerings for ancestors

People in China burn joss paper at a festival ahead of fishing season in the hopes that it will bring them good luck. Photo: Getty Images
People in China burn joss paper at a festival ahead of fishing season in the hopes that it will bring them good luck. Photo: Getty Images

One of the most widespread traditions among Chinese people may be under threat in the northern province of Shanxi as the government is considering banning the production and sale of paper goods burnt as offerings.

Officials in Shanxi province said it was because burning the paper was a “superstitious activity”, according to mainland media outlet The Paper.

Called joss paper, the objects come in forms as diverse as money, houses and, this year, Covid-19 vaccination needles.

They are meant to be burned and people believe the item manifests in the afterlife and can be used by their ancestors.

The provincial government is soliciting public opinions about the draft rule. The rule would also regulate the cost and size of graves at public cemeteries.

If the rules go through, Shanxi would not be the first place in China to restrict the burning of joss paper.

Big cities like Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin also implemented similar regulations, although they used pollution as justification.

The proposed regulation in Shanxi was met with controversy online.

“It’s a part of our traditional culture. I don’t understand the rule,” wrote one person at Baidu.com. “Maybe in the future, we will import joss paper from abroad?”

Appearing strange and hurting public order

Xu Qingen’s pose during his video became a mini-sensation in China. Photo: Handout
Xu Qingen’s pose during his video became a mini-sensation in China. Photo: Handout

State-run media in China said a man who shot to online fame due to a strange video and was subsequently booted off Weibo had brought increased competition for “appearing strange and hurting public order”.

While the internet has produced far more off-colour videos, the man’s pose during the video went viral, with celebrities across China imitating the move in which he turns sideways, bends his knees in a half-lunge and loosely clenches his fist.

People also reacted to his make-up, which created a doll-like appearance.

The 29-year-old, Xu Qingen, also said a domestic brewery had made him their brand ambassador.

Earlier in the month, he opened a “fans account” and charged people 25,000 yuan (US$3,800) to join the group, where he said he would offer investment advice.

State-run outlet CCTV said Xu’s popularity was because of “people’s psychology of judging strangeness”, and suggested others would follow his lead to build an online following.

They said he brought “poisonous traffic” to the Chinese internet.

Since then, the man’s Weibo account had been suspended, and the money he received for the chat group was refunded.

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