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Real or Fake News? - Mainland Chinese Boy Pees At Restaurant Inside Taipei 101

On October 19 Apple Daily published an article about a mainland boy who peed in public at the famous restaurant Ding Tai Feng (鼎泰豐, often spelt 'Din Tai Fung') inside Taipei 101. 

According to the report, at the beginning of October a group of 5 tourists from China's Shanxi province went to Ding Tai Feng, a chain of restaurants renowned for its xiaolongbao (小籠包, a kind of dumpling). During the meal, a 3-year-old boy had to pee and his mother let him urinate inside a plastic bottle in public. Although there is no toilet inside Ding Tai Feng, there is one just about 100 meters away from the restaurant but still inside Taipei 101. Allegedly, other customers saw that the boy had pulled down his pants to pee and felt shocked. Moreover, the boy 'missed his target' and sprinkled the table and the food. 

The group consisted of a 37-year-old mother and her two children, her 73-year-old father and her 41-year-old sister-in-law. They arrived at the restaurant at around 12:30 of October 2. When the incident occurred, the waiters didn't know how to handle the situation and called senior staff members with more experience. 

A spokesperson of the restaurant told the media that the waiters "immediately went to the table and told the customers how to get to the restrooms. They also reminded them that they [should] avoid disturbing the other customers." She added that the area of the restaurant where the mainland group had sat was disinfected after what had happened.

A mainland group leader defended the woman. "There's no reason to blow the thing out of proportion," she said. "This kind of thing will happen. It's the same on the mainland. The child is still very young, if he needs to pee there's nothing you can do. As a mother, you will sympathise with your child. I have children, too."




The news immediately went viral and prompted the usual anti-mainland reactions. Other websites and individuals soon joined in the chorus of voices condemning the mainlanders. Here are some comments on Apple Daily:

這發生一次,大家是不是感到快崩潰了?請了解,香港是處處上演,常常可見,你說我們住在香港能不瘋嗎? 
This just happened once, but doesn't everyone feel appalled? Please understand that in Hong Kong this happens everywhere and we see such things many times, how could we not turn mad? 
建議店家錄影存證 + 立刻報警 ! 
I advise the restaurant to use the footage as a proof and report it immediately to the police!
強國人心態還停留在一窮二白時代,以為有錢什麼都能解決,根本暴發戶心理. 
The mindset of mainlanders has remained backward, they think they can solve every problem with money, the typical mentality of nouveaux riches.  
請開始正名"中國人"對雙方都好 
Please start calling them by their right name: "Chinese" It would be better for both sides 
現在大家懂 票投國民黨 台灣變香港的意思了嗎? 我絕對不要統一! 
Does everyone understand now that if you vote Guomindang Taiwan will become like Hong Kong? I absolutely don't want unification!

Comments of the sort went on and on. However, on October 21 Apple Daily published on its website an apology. The mother of the boy

is not a mainland tourist, but a Taipeinese, and her son did not urinate in public. A plastic bottle had accidentally fallen, spilling water on the child's pants, and the mother was just trying to help him change his pants. She hadn't realised that other people had misunderstood what was happening and had taken pictures of her and posted them online. 

However, some netizens insist that the people were mainlanders and that two different incidents happened: one inside Ding Tai Feng and another one at the food court of Taipei 101. It is not quite clear whether these claims are true or not. Some news outlets such as Taiwan's Central News Agency and China Times did not mention two parallel incidents, and Apple Daily's apology seems to refer to one and the same incident. 

One thing is clear, though: whenever mainlanders are involved, people are all too ready to condemn, insult and publicly express prejudices and generalisations. "I hate mainlanders", "Mainlanders are rude", are sentences one often hears. Moreover, different topics are constantly mixed and confused: a child allegedly peeing in public is immediately connected to things like Hong Kong's Occupy Central, or the Guomindang. 

Not surprisingly, very few Taiwanese reacted with the same amount of fierceness and hatred when they read that that Taiwanese mother let her child change his pants in public - this is not a very polite and pleasant behaviour, yet if a Taiwanese mother does it, one isn't likely to read or hear comments such as: "Taiwanese are rude", or "Taiwanese are backward". 

I do not criticise Apple Daily. Mistakes can happen, and there is no shame in making a mistake if one is willing to correct it. I was criticised for a much smaller mistake a while ago and, I think, unfairly, because we are all humans and sometimes we misunderstand or misinterpret. However, while I don't blame Apple Daily, I think that growing anti-mainland sentiment is a worrying phenomenon and is certainly not something of which people should be as proud as they seem to be. Prejudices against mainlanders have nothing to with the justified willingness of the Taiwanese to defend themselves against a possible Communist annexation. 

UPDATE:

The apology issued by Apple Daily does indeed refer to two separate incidents. The one which took place at Ding Tai Feng and which I described above did happen and the people involved are mainlanders. The second incident happened in the food court of Taipei 101: a mother helped her child change his pants after he had spilt water on it. 




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