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Chinese Netizens Appeal To "Chairman Obama"

Their petitions to White House: Take official stance on tofu, extradite a student, liberate Hong Kong — and China. "If we vote, will we be asked to drink 'coffee'?"

Posted on May 8, 2013, at 1:57 p.m. ET

Chinese netizens have been focusing intently on the unsolved 1994 murder of a college student, and have found a new tool in their quest: online petitions to the White House.

The 1994 death of Zhu Ling — and the suspected role of the granddaugher of a top Communist Party official — resurfaced after a popular Fudan University student was fatally poisoned by his roommate last month, and tapped into a widespread anger at the suggestion that high ranking officials and their relatives are above the law.

And as the Zhu Ling case dominated social media, Weibo censored Zhu Ling as a search term, which only inflamed suspicions of official meddling.

But when Chinese netizens discovered that their suspect lives in America under a new name, they flocked to sign a White House petition to have her extradited back to China:

Zhu Ling's name was unblocked on Weibo shortly afterward, and major Chinese news outlets began to report on the topic. But what awed Chinese netizens more was discovering that they could post any petition on the White House website, especially since many Chinese people joke that the consequence of petitioning officials is, "Do it once, get reprimanded; do it twice, get detained; do it three times, and it's straight to the labor camps."

As the Zhu Ling petition quickly reached its signature goal, many took to testing how far they could exercise this freedom.

People on Weibo find it particularly hilarious that the petition sites aren't blocked yet:

Being "invited to drink coffee" is a euphemism for being interrogated and detained by the police.


And the petitions quickly became a meme of their own:


Chinese people debate tofu soup the way Americans debate whether In-n-Out or White Castle makes the better burgers. Tofu soup is a popular breakfast item, and northerners believe it should be savory and even spicy, while southerners prefer the sweet kind. Weibo users thought the White House should take an official stance:


This petition is actually pretty serious:

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