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David Wertime

Trending on China’s Twitter: Pre-Doomsday Run on Candles

One Chinese shop displays its Doomsday-proofing wares. (Via Weibo)

Don’t forget to add candles to your shopping list–after all, perpetual darkness lies right about the corner.

Tea Leaf Nation reported yesterday on a tongue-in-cheek “doomsday vacation” memo making the rounds on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter. But some Chinese citizens do not view the upcoming end-of-days predicted by the Mayan calendar as a laughing matter.

Current trending topic #6 on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, reads:

“After darkness descends December 21, 2012, the planet will experience three consecutive days of darkness.” In recent days, this rumor has been constantly brewing in Sichuan, and citizens hearing these rumors have gathered in markets to crazily buy white candles and timber, leading to a candle shortage. Experts have stated: Anyone with a bit of scientific common sense knows that there will not be three days of consecutive darkness.

In particular, Weibo chatter has it that citizens of Longchang county in Sichuan Province have scared themselves silly, as rumors of the three days of darkness has spread around the town’s streets and card tables.

Invoking “expert opinion” may seem unnecessary here, but rumors have led to panicked runs in China before. In the wake of nuclear disaster in neighboring Japan’s last year, some Chinese consumers made a run on table salt, erroneously believing the iodine it contained would be sufficient to ward off the effects of radiation.

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.