Only Two Push-Ups! China’s Government Sparks A New Meme

TV personality Qu Zhihang and his naked push-upTV personality Qu Zhihang and his naked push-up

Push-ups and the Internet usually don’t go together, much to the regret of doctors. In China, though, they’re both part of the newest meme, sort of a protest against a government that insists on one version of the story no matter what.

Seventeen-year-old Li Shufen died in June in Guizhou provence. She had been traveling with two men and a 16-year-old girl, who Li’s family say played a part in her death, maybe even raping and murdering her. The China Daily reports Li’s brother says he saw injuries on her face.

The government has a different story. It says Li did two push-ups, said something like, “I’m going to leave,” then jumped off a bridge to her death. The official report on Li Shufen’s death sparked a riot in Guizhou, and while the investigation continues, the strange two push-up story took on a life of its own.

Celebrities (in China) posed for pictures doing push-ups. Web comments mixed push-ups into famous phrases, like “To push-up or not to push up, that is the question.” Several thousand people joined groups with push-up as a keyword.

The Chinese government added push-up as a censored phrase just a day or two later, but word still got out. That’s why you’re reading it here.

Jul 9, 2008
by Anonymous


A minor mistake. In the government's story, it was not Li, but one of the men did two push-ups beside her.

Aug 2, 2008
by Anonymous

A bad excuse

Why did the Chinese policemen come up with the strange “push-ups”, not anything else that makes more sense? One wouldn’t do push-ups on a bridge, would he? He would stand there, leaned on the railings, and talked to his friends.

My guess is, someone witness this guy (or two guys) raping the girl, and told the police and other people what he saw. In order to get around a story, the GongAn (police) said that the defendent was doing “push-ups”, that he wasn’t raping.