In a country such as China, whose gargantuan size is only overtaken by its enormous population, coincidences happen all the time. One married couple, however, uncovered something that they are sure proves their meeting was a matter of fate.
On March 4, 2018, 35-year-old Mr. Ye was looking through his mother-in-law’s photographs. Suddenly, he spotted a photograph from almost two decades earlier that left him in complete and utter shock. “When I saw the photo,” he said, “I got goosebumps all over my body…”
Let’s rewind a bit to first to understand why he was so surprised by this photo. Mr. Ye and Ms. Xue are among 14 million people who live in Chengdu, the capital city of China’s Sichuan Province. If you’re unfamiliar with China, Sichuan is located in the south-west and is notable for its unique spicy food. Some of the most popular Chinese dishes come from this area, including the world-famous Mapo tofu and Kung Pao chicken. Although they hailed from the same city, they were sure that their paths hadn’t crossed until they were introduced…
Mr. Ye And Ms. Xue
When he was young, Mr. Ye left Chengdu to study at a university in Suzhou, a city due west of Shanghai in the Jiangsu Province. He returned to Chengdu in 2008. Ms. Xue, in the meantime, had been living and studying in Chengdu. The two were introduced through mutual friends and went out together to the 2011 Dragon Boat Festival, a traditional Chinese celebration held around the summer solstice. This fun festival, pictured below, features boat racing and other festivities.
After the two met for the first time through mutual friends, they fell in love, which should come as no surprise after having such an awesome first date. Within the next couple of years, the two of them got married. The photo below is a wedding picture they took while visiting the coastal city of Qingdao, northeastern China. Located in the Shandong Province, some 1,200 miles away from Chengdu, the city would end up being of particular significance to the couple…
After they got married, Mr. Ye and Ms. Xue made their home in the city of Chengdu, the same place where the two of them grew up. Eventually, Ms. Xue became pregnant, shortly afterward giving birth to twin baby girls. There are plenty of fun things for kids to do in Chengdu, such as visiting panda bear reserves, but raising children is never easy, so imagine how hard it was for them to raise two at once! Thankfully, they have family nearby who are available to help take care of the kids when things get difficult.
Fast forward several years to March 4, 2018. Mr. Ye was at his mother-in-law’s house for dinner, looking through photo albums for pictures of his wife, Ms. Xue, to see whether his little girls resembled him or his wife more. He got through the baby section and was making his way through her school years when he found a picture taken on July 28, 2000. It was of his wife posing at May Fourth Square in Qingdao, but he spotted something in the shot that gave him goosebumps…
As was said earlier, the couple took their wedding photo in the city of Qingdao. We know it holds a particular importance for the couple, so it would be useful to see what the city means for the Chinese. Located on the Yellow Sea, the city is a major economic and maritime hub that boasts a population of 9 million. Its neighbor, Shanghai, may be more famous, but Qingdao holds an important place in Chinese national consciousness and is the site of the May Fourth Square.
May Fourth Square
May Fourth Square is located in Qingdao’s business district on Fushan Bay. It is a very attractive tourist destination for visitors, who enjoy its close proximity to other sites of interest in Qingdao. It is made up of Shizhengting Square, the central square, and the coastal park. It borders a residential area and people enjoy walks here in the sea breeze. Its most identifiable landmark is the spiral May Wind sculpture. The square was named after a student protest movement that manifested in China about a century ago.
May Fourth Movement
As the name suggests, the movement began on May 4, 1919, ahead of the Treaty of Versailles’ signing that ended World War I. Thousands of students protested in front of Tiananmen Square on that day, re-awakening nationalist sentiments. They denounced their government’s inability to stand up to foreign powers and promote Chinese interests during the negotiations. Chinese demands were to abolish foreign privileges, roll back Japanese incursions into China’s sovereignty, and return lands taken in Shandong, including Qingdao. Thanks in no small part to the protests, the Chinese representative refused to sign the treaty.
Century Of Humiliation
But how did the foreign affairs of China, a sprawling country with a massive population, end up in such dire straits? Chinese schoolchildren learn about the movement as taking place during the Century of Humiliation, in between the First Opium War and the aftermath of World War II. China is a very proud nation, with a history that stretches back to the time of the pharaohs. Since then, subsequent Chinese empires have been a hub of humanity’s greatest inventions and achievements. This is true for most of history…
China was a great power when Europeans made contact with them. China was able to exert dominance as they attempted to compete with Chinese overseas interests. The Europeans, meanwhile, were forced to swallow Chinese restrictions to trade for sought-after Chinese goods. Two centuries later, Great Britain was finally able to force open China in the First Opium War due to its superior military might. The British assault on China was effectively launched to force China to permit foreign opium merchants to sell the drug to the Chinese.
Sick Man Of Asia
China, once perceived as strong, was increasingly viewed as the “sick man of Asia.” Other foreign powers soon exerted their dominance over a weak and bureaucratic Chinese Empire, forcing it to give up parts of its territory. What began as free reign to sell opium was so devastating that China was brought to its knees, despite efforts to stay standing. Of note, China chose the fishing village of Qingdao, to build up coastal defenses. The opportunistic German Empire, however, eagerly copied Britain’s model and took over the city.
Contributions Of Germans
Through military might, the Germans took over some 200 square miles of Chinese land in the Kiautschou Bay concession. They transformed the impoverished fishing village into the capital of their colony. For the next decade and a half, they modernized the area with running water, sewage, electricity, and a railroad. Qingdao was hailed as a model city for other Chinese cities to follow. To this day, the city boasts buildings that were built in the German style, which is rare in East Asia. So what was the significance of this place for this couple?
In 1914, a joint British-Japanese invasion of Germany’s Chinese colony brought a siege upon Qingdao. Japan took over and demanded it as part of concessions from Germany after World War I, but China was able to successfully wrest control after the war ended back through diplomacy in 1922. Although Japan maintained economic dominance and reconquered the city in 1938, China regained control once again when World War II ended. Since then, the city has grown to be known for much more than China’s complicated past with foreign imperialist powers.
Popular Tourist Destination
Today, the city is known for its temperate climate, sea accessibility, unique German architecture, and Tsingtao Beer. A vestige of German colonial development, the world-famous brewery was founded in 1903. Even though Mr. Ye and Ms. Xue come from Chengdu, some 1,200 miles away, it’s not surprising that they both vacationed in the same popular tourist destination, discovering as much after they met through their mutual friends. But little did they know their paths had crossed there years before…
History And Relaxation
Indeed, Qingdao has gone from being an area of contention to being a tourist destination, which attracted Ms. Xue to the city in 2000, some 11 years before she met her future husband. But how did she, as a young girl, get there? It turns out that Ms. Xue’s mother had undergone a serious operation some three months earlier. Needing some time off to recuperate from this, she decided to go on a trip with her daughter to Qingdao, where she could both relax and see important historical sites.
Rest And Relaxation
Although her daughter was not much more than a little girl, there is plenty for a mother and daughter to do in the city. The temperate climate was perfect for someone recovering from surgery, especially coming from the hot and humid Sichuan Province. The pair were able to stroll down streets boasting the unique German-style architecture left over from a century before, as pictured below. Like other tourists, Ms. Xue posed for a picture at May Fourth Square. But when Mr. Ye saw the picture, he couldn’t believe his eyes…
He was shocked when he saw a man posing in the background, realizing that “That was my pose for taking photos!” He recalled that he had “heard her mention before that she had been to Qingdao while I also went to Qingdao and took pictures at the May Fourth Square. We didn’t know it yet.” In fact, it turns out that When Mr. Ye was 17 years old in 2000, his mother had booked a ticket to join an organized tour of the city of Qingdao…
She was suddenly hit with appendicitis, making it impossible for her to go on the trip. In her place, she asked her son if he would take her seat on the plane. As can be expected, the tour visited the May Wind sculpture. The May Wind sculpture may be a popular place to take a picture, admittedly, with thousands and thousands of visitors every year. That being said, what are the chances that two people from the same city a plane ride away would pose for a picture at the same spot and same time?
Mr. Ye’s Photo
“When I saw the photo, I was taken by surprise and I got goosebumps all over my body,” Mr. Ye said about the photo, because “that was my pose for taking photos. I also took a photo, it was the same posture, just from a different angle.” So Mr. Ye knew he had to find the photo. He rummaged around through his old albums until he found the picture he was posing for as he was candidly captured in his wife’s picture.
Even among a billion Chinese, this chance occurrence is highly unlikely. However, it’s the fact that over a decade later these two people would meet and get married that makes this story all the more uncanny. This prompted Mr. Ye to post the story on Chinese social media and, needless to say, the story and the pictures went viral. People were amazed that his and his wife’s paths crossed, unbeknownst to either of them, over a decade before they met — and over a thousand miles from where they lived!
A Sign They Were Meant To Be Together
After this went viral, local Chinese media interviewed Mr. Ye to get the scoop on how he became an internet sensation. Ms. Xue told the news that she was stunned at the power of destiny. Their friends all told them that this was a sign they were meant to be together. Mr. Ye said that he plans to keep the photos in good condition. “My wife says I don’t know how to be romantic,” he joked. “I’ll show her romantic.”
Future Family Trip
“It seems that Qingdao is certainly one of the most special places,” Mr. Ye said. “When the children are older, we will go to Qingdao again and the family will take a photo.” In the meantime, Mr. Ye and Ms. Xue can rest easy with their belief that their partnership was somehow predestined. The two appear to be truly meant for each other. And who knows, when they do take the picture together as a family, maybe one of their daughters’ future husband will be somewhere in the background!