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A group of child protection activists have raised their concerns about a popular reality show in which a 23-year-old Olympic athlete and a 4-year-old girl who plays his daughter act like a "couple."
The fourth season of reality show "Dad, Where Are We Going?" which premiered on October 7 on Mango TV, the online division of Hunan TV, one of China's largest television stations, has been criticized for its "parent internship" feature in which celebrities spend two days with other people's children.
In previous seasons, the show only featured celebrity fathers spending time with their own children.
The show has been particularly criticized for the pairing of Olympic fencer Dong Li and his "daughter" Arale, whose real name is Cui Yahan, who some say have been overly intimate and have been mocked by Net users as being like a "couple."
Viewers objected to the pair sharing a bed, with Arale was only wearing a top and her underpants. Some have also expressed discomfort with Arale saying during the show that she would like to marry Dong while she grows up and Dong joking that Arale is his ideal girlfriend and he will wait for her to grow up.
While some people see the pair's relationship as warm and sweet, pointing out it is only a show, some child protection activists have argued it may set a bad example to children and parents and may lead to children being manipulated for ulterior motives.
Arale has gained fame on Chinese social media for being cute in fashion shows, advertisements and TV programs while handsome Dong won popularity when he competed in the Rio Olympic Games as a fencer.
Since they came together on the show, many netizens have joked that their life goals are "to marry Dong and give birth to a daughter like Arale." However, this positive reception soon began to sour as intimate scenes frequently appeared in the show such as Arale wearing Dong's clothes and saying "I feel better staying with you than with my mom."
Moreover, media reports depicting the pair as a sweet "couple" have gone viral and a snapshot from the show featuring Dong giving Alare a peck on the lips was used to advertise the show on streaming video sites.
On Friday, the Beijing-based NGO Girls' Protection called for a stop to the show. The NGO said on its Sina Weibo account that the reality show is offering a problematic example for young people, encouraging them to believe that the behavior being depicted is appropriate.
Sun Xuemei, one of the founders of the NGO, told the Global Times on Tuesday that she believes the program has not purposefully created this inappropriate relationship but the content of the show has worked against their efforts to educate and protect children as it may teach them the wrong lessons.
Many online celebrities also vented their anger toward the show. Some said that it was inappropriate to let a girl who has not established gender consciousness live and eat with a grown man and hyping up them as a couple may incite pedophilia. (new s from the Global Times)