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'You're taking us all for fools': Confusion over video of woman chained in hut stirs anger in China

Chinese authorities say they have traced the origins of a woman who appeared in a viral video chained in a hut which prompted public outrage online.

The footage was posted on video-sharing site Douyin last month and showed her in what appeared to be a confused state and with a chain around her neck, dressed in light clothing despite freezing winter temperatures.

As people voiced growing concerns on websites for her welfare, officials in the city of Xuzhou and at county level in the northwestern province of Jiangsu issued several statements about the woman, who city authorities said has a husband and eight children.

However, the accounts given appeared contradictory, and some have rejected them online.


Earlier this week, authorities in Xuzhou said they had found out the woman, identified by county officials by her surname Yang, was actually called Xiaohuamei and was from a village in Yunnan province, in southwest China.

Two previous statements by county officials said the woman had been diagnosed with a mental illness and dismissed suggestions by social media users of human-trafficking.

On Monday Xuzhou authorities said the woman had been suffering from “abnormal speech and behaviour” in 1996 and was brought to Jiangsu by a fellow villager for medical treatment and to find a husband, but then went missing.

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County officials had previously said the woman was rescued by her husband’s late father while begging for food in 1998 and got married two months later.

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“Three statements which all read differently. Where’s the government’s credibility?” a user of the Weibo social media platform asked.

“Xuzhou, you’re taking us all for fools,” said another person on WeChat.

Authorities have not directly commented on the footage of the woman which prompted the public outcry but have said police are investigating the woman’s husband.

Officials in Xuzhou said: “Party committees and governments at the city and county levels will learn from this incident… and further strengthen support and guarantees for various groups that are in difficulty.”


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