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Doomsday montage: How China reacted to the Mayan prophecy

The Mayan doomsday prophecy, which has rippled across the globe, affected many Chinese as well. Here is a sum-up of doomsday-related events of the past few months.

The Chinese sense of humour about this Mayan prophecy best represented in this picture posted on Weibo by a celebrity TV host He Jiong (@何炅). The sentence on the picture means "2012 is Mustard Day", which has the same pronunciation as "2012 end of the world": 2012 Shi Jie Mo Ri. (Photo: Weibo.com)

The Silly

In early December, rumors of “three consecutive days of darkness after December 21” caused a wild round of panic purchase of candles and matches in Shuangliu and Longchang counties, both in Sichuan Province, southwest China, which was widely reported by many Chinese media. In fact, there are people who did the same thing throughout China. Similar reports were also found in Changchun, Jilin Province and cities in Shandong, including its capital city Jinan.

People who started the rumors might not expect to get blood on their hand. Well, they almost did. In Huangshi, Hubei province, a village woman surnamed Xiao was deluded by the doomsday rumor into thinking that she needs to believe in a religion, which led to an altercation with her husband. Xiao, thinking that her husband had “profaned the gods”, drunk some pesticide in indignation and was sent to the hospital.

In Nanjing, a 54-year-old woman surnamed Jiang whose firm belief in doomsday led her to mortgage her apartment valued at three million for a mere 1.04 million because she wanted to do something nice before doomsday and intended to donate the money to children in poverty.

The Shrewd

A comination of different promotional posters all bearing the Chinese character "末日", meaning doomsday. Photo: Sino-US.com

Well, for one, the vendors who sold the candles certainly picked up on the rumor and enabled people’s silly behavior by offering packages after packages of supplies though they themselves do not really believe in doomsday. “Who would let this good business opportunity go?” they said.

The Doomsday rumor has been used to promote products by businesses big or small. On taobao.com, a popular Chinese e-commerce website, all kinds of doomsday equipment, such as first-aid kits and emergency packets are in great demand. The buyers are not necessarily believers, they did it because they thought those equipments are “useful anyways”.

Also popular is something that is called the “2012 Doomsday boat tickets”, the best-selling one boasted 11,000 sales within the past month. Most of the tickets are designed like a flight ticket or a train ticket, with personalized information of the purchaser. Many listed Cho Ming, the imaginary Tibetan valley mentioned in the film 2012 as the boarding place. Most of the buyers are young people, who buy these tickets mostly for fun.

Travel agencies are eager to get a slice of the doomsday pie as well. Particularly eye-catching is the so-called “Tibetan Noah Ark” line. Last December was an off-season for Tibetan tourism. This year, however, the hotel reservation rate increased 1,200% compared to last year. Room prices are also hiked up due to the large demand.


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