Ice Bucket Challenge stirs controversy in China


The “Ice Bucket Challenge” ─ meant to raise funds for research into a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ─ has come to China, only to raise controversy.

Lei Jun, founder of fast-growing smartphone maker Beijing Xiaomi Technology, said Monday on his Weibo microblogging account that he had accepted a “nomination” for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, becoming one of the first Chinese nationals to have a bucket of ice water poured onto his head to raise awareness of the disease.

The challenge involves a participant choosing between dousing themselves with ice water and making a small donation to the ALS Association or else opting out of the water and making a larger donation instead.

Lei announced Sunday that he would perform the challenge the next day and invited the public to offer suggestions of whom he should nominate to be the next three participants.

But Lei’s move was apparently preempted by Peter Yijia Liu, founder of handset maker Oneplus Tech, who said he had initiated his own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, uploading a video on Weibo of him pouring a bucket of ice water onto his head. Liu nominated three other participants from the Internet industry, including Zhou Hongyi, chairman of 360 Technology.

But both Lei and Liu came in for criticism on social media, as some commentators accused the pair of indulging in a marketing exercise rather than trying to help find a cure for ALS.

Some said Liu’s dumping water on his head was merely “for his own amusement.”

Likewise, Victor Koo ─ founder of the YouTube-like website ─ performed a toned-down version of the challenge by pouring two cups of water on his head at the opening ceremony of a local video festival. This too drew criticism, with some calling the move a meaningless gesture as Koo mentioned ALS in subsequent posting on Weibo but failed to explain what it was.

A report Tuesday in the Beijing Times newspaper offered some mild criticism of the stunts. It quoted yet another industry executive ─ iiMedia Research Group Chief Executive Zhang Yi ─ as saying: “Charity is a long-term and continuous thing. Just keep your mind on it. There is no need to hype it up.”


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