Ice bucket challenge comes to China – with an equine twist

The ice bucket challenge to raise funds for ALS research is now a hit in China. Participants have added Chinese characteristics to the craze. 

Former NBA star Yao Ming, center right, takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at a school in Beijing, China, on Aug. 23, 2014.

What is an environmentally responsible entertainer to do when he is given the ice bucket challenge in a country where water resources are scarce?

Douse himself in freezing horse urine.

The ice bucket challenge, which is a way of raising awareness of ALS and money for research, is now sweeping China. But as star DJ Yang Yue showed, the campaign has taken on distinctly Chinese characteristics.

The craze began in China two weeks ago when Liu Zuohu, the founder of a smartphone company, poured icy water over himself. Other high-tech entrepreneurs such as Terry Gou (whose Foxconn company makes most of Apple’s iPhones) and Robin Li (founder of Baidu, China's dominant search engine) were quick to follow the fad.

The campaign has also taken a curiously institutional turn. In other countries, individuals challenge other individuals to take the challenge and/or donate funds. Here, the state-run China Central Television network used its social media account to challenge the Ministry of Civil Affairs. It is not clear if anybody in either of these organizations actually got wet.

Journalists from the official Xinhua news agency did though, and they also had the cheek to challenge the Ministry of Public Security, which runs the police force. The cops weren’t having any of it: They announced on their microblog account that they “really had no time to pour ice buckets over ourselves and show our bodies” but swore they had donated to the cause.

The Chinese charity that is collecting money from the campaign, the China Dolls Center for Rare Disorders, said Sunday that it had raised $1.3 million in the past couple of weeks. Last year it raised just $77,000 in August.

“I hope that when the “ice bucket fever” passes, that attention will not fade,” said Wang Yi’ou, the founder of China Dolls. 

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