Those of us living in China might have been spared the tumultuous drama that our US counterparts have experienced in 2017, but like always, the Middle Kingdom has had its own fair share of attention-grabbing headlines. From the boom of shared bikes to a presidential visit from The Donald, our team has put together a list of 2017’s most unforgettable viral stories, recounting major events that defined the worlds of sports, tech, arts, fashion and food. Here’s to another year of eclectic, weird and wonderful life in China, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
For more, follow our full 2017 Year in Review coverage.
Another year, more badly behaved laowai. We've counted down some of China's naughtiest foreigners of 2017.
10. The Foreigners Taking Advantage of the 110 Hotline
Earlier this year, the Shanghai Police call center said it received an average of 37,000 calls daily in the past year, 2,330 of them from frantic foreigners... in perhaps what might not be considered the most serious of situations. According to the Shanghai Daily, calls ranged from an American having complications getting luggage retrieved from a hotel to middle-of-the-night partiers claiming that bartenders were scamming them on their drink bills. (Right, we've heard that one before).
9. The Foreigners Who Wined and Dined on the Shanghai Metro
In April, a group of foreigners threw a picnic on the Shanghai Metro, complete with a foldable table, glasses of wine, paper plates and a baguette. The unnamed diners weren't detained by police because while eating on the Metro is strongly advised against, there apparently aren't any official rules prohibiting people from holding picnics in the cars. Still, netizens were outraged by the feast, with many condemning the foreigners' behavior on social media. The crew eventually apologized.
8. The Angry Laowai That Hurled a Shared Bike in the Middle of a Busy Beijing Street
China's bike share phenomenon can be really frustrating to deal with at times, but for one foreigner in Beijing it apparently became just too much to handle. Video circulating online in September showed the unidentified laowai in Chaoyang District grabbing one of the rentable bikes — which, by the way, are really heavy at roughly 17-25 kilograms apiece — and chucking it towards a nearby sidewalk, in what we can only guess was an extreme bout of rage. The man and his companions then walked away from the scene like it was no big deal.
7. The Foreigner Who Stole a Phone from a Store Clerk in Guangzhou
Video footage of a foreigner stealing a convenience store clerk’s phone in Guangzhou’s Baiyun District went viral across China in August. A closed-circuit television camera in the store captured the foreigner at the checkout, where he pointed to something behind the counter before sneakily snatching the cashier’s phone and stuffing it in his left pocket. Unfortunately for the sheisty foreigner, police caught up with him, searching his room for the stolen mobile before parading him back to the scene of the crime (presumably to return the phone and apologize…).
6. The Laowai Who Caused China to Close Mount Everest Off to All Foreigners
There's always gotta be that one guy who ruins it for everyone else. In this case, it was 49-year-old Polish citizen Janusz Adam Adamski, who illegally scaled Mount Everest from the north side in Tibet and entered Nepal in the south via the summit. As a result of his actions, China stopped issuing permits to foreigners climbing the Tibet side of Mount Everest for the rest of the year, suspending climbing permits in all of Tibet for the autumn season (including popular summits Cho Oyu and Shishapangma).
5. Gigi Hadid
Chinese social media users called for Victoria's Secret Angel Gigi Hadid to be banned from the country after a video showing her appearing to mock Asian people was posted to Instagram in February. Hadid apologized for the video in September, following backlash from netizens shortly after it was announced the event would be coming to Shanghai for China's first-ever Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Their requests appear to have been answered, with Hadid announcing that she'd be dropping out of the show at the last minute (without specifying the circumstances behind her change in plans). Hadid's abrupt exit from the show came just days after reports emerged that four models — one from Ukraine and three from Russia — were unable to obtain Chinese visas. Pop singer Katy Perry also suddenly dropped out, with rumors circulating that she had been banned from performing in China due to a controversial dress she wore during a 2015 concert in Taiwan.
4. The 11 Foreigners Who Were Busted for Dealing Pot in Guangzhou
Back in February, police in Guangzhou’s Panyu District arrested an expat who injured someone while 'running naked' outside, allegedly a result of being high on that ‘super-dank bubonic chronic’ (read: marijuana). While the arrest may have seemed insignificant at the time, the stoned man reportedly provided authorities with information that later resulted in the arrest of 11 foreigners (as well as eight Chinese nationals) for smuggling, producing and selling marijuana.
3. Gua Laowai
Chengdu rapper MC Fat Shady, a contestant on The Rap of China, dropped the music video for his track ‘Gua Laowai’ (‘Stupid Foreigner’) in August, which caused an uproar and immediately went viral. While the rapper himself owes everyone an apology (for making our ears bleed), the unnamed laowai dissed in the track should also be ashamed for whatever terrible deed of theirs pissed MC Shady off so much that he felt compelled to write it in the first place.
A war of words between US President Donald Trump and celebrity basketball shoe entrepreneur LaVar Ball carried on much longer than it needed to after the two had a public spat over the UCLA shoplifting incident in November.
Ball, whose son LiAngelo was released from China along with UCLA basketball teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill after being arrested for shoplifting in Hangzhou, was blasted by Trump (on Twitter, naturally) for downplaying the President's role in their return.
After Trump — who claimed he personally lobbied Chinese President Xi Jinping to release the trio during his trip to Beijing — tweeted that he "should have left them in jail," Ball made an appearance on CNN for a bizarre interview in which he repeatedly refused to thank The Donald for bailing the players out.
Speaking of which...
1. The UCLA Basketball Players Who Shoplifted in China
Coming in at Number One on our list is the trio that sparked what may very well have been the strangest diplomatic crisis of the last decade.
UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested in Hangzhou under suspicion of shoplifting from a mall next to the team's hotel just days before the November Pac-12 China game in Shanghai. Initial reports suggested they had stolen from three high-end shops, including a Louis Vuitton store.
After being detained for around a week, Chinese authorities dropped all charges and the three were not officially deported, which allowed them to walk away from the incident with a clean record. Upon returning to the US, they were suspended from the team indefinitely and apologized at a press conference at the university. LiAngelo later withdrew from UCLA and told the press the school had forced him to apologize to the President.
For more 2017 Year in Review coverage, click here.