When a video clip surfaced on YouTube showing Zhang Ya cursing Wenchuan earthquake victims with lots of profane words, a small earthquake was triggered in China's Internet community.
Millions of Chinese Internet users posted furious condemnation messages, accusing the 21-year-old girl of "no humanity," "insulting the victims" and calling her "scum".
In the near-5-minute video, Zhang, a native of Shenyang, capital of the northeastern Liaoning Province, showed that she was annoyed with the three day period of national mourning during which she could neither watch her favorite television programs nor play any games online. Shockingly, the girl chose to vent her anger through throwing nasty words upon the victims of the Sichuan quake, whose number has now topped 55,000.
"We respect the freedom of speech on the Internet, but we will not tolerate that she insulted the victims and survivors in Sichuan," one responding post read.
Despite the humiliating case of Zhang, the Internet, which enjoyed a stunning growth in China over the past decade and witnessed the nation overtake the United States to boast the world's largest Internet user population of 221 million, has played a fairly positive role in China's coping with the national calamity.
Ever since the 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan County in the southwestern Sichuan Province at 2:28 p.m. on May 12, the Internet has acted as a major platform for quake relief, with tens of millions of Internet users taking to the Web to offer their help.
Posts calling for donations, self-organizing volunteer groups, spreading information and suggesting rescue approaches flooded web portals and forums.
Zhang Qi, a student at Culinary Institute of Sichuan, is originally from Wenchuan, the epicenter area. After knowing all roads to Wenchuan had been cut off by the earthquake and landslides that followed, and rescuers had major trouble to reach the epicenter by air due to the mountainous landscape of this valley county, she realized that a construction field near her home village was probably a good location for helicopter landing.