TikTok Frantic As 'Zombies in China' Trends—Viral Moment Explained

Internet users have been left frantic after rumors of "zombies in China" began trending on social media.

The online trend has left many on the video-sharing app TikTok terrified after videos and reactions have been shared about a so-called "zombie outbreak" in China.

While zombies may be a pop culture favorite, there is no evidence that there has been any such outbreak in the real world—but that hasn't stopped people from sharing their reactions and fears online.

Zombie woman in office space
A stock image of a zombie standing in front of camera in open space office. The internet has been left panicking after the spread of a viral rumor that there are zombies in China. shironosov/Getty Images

Where Did 'Zombies in China' Come From?

Said to stem from an article published in 2021, the piece titled "This is how a zombie apocalypse is most likely to start in China," pointed to allegations that communist countries have in the past suppressed information about worldwide threats. Citing the 1986 Chernobyl disaster when the Soviet Union did not acknowledge a problem until other countries had irrefutable proof, the article claimed that China takes part in "lies and propaganda" and suggested that they would be most likely to hide an outbreak from the world.

The article even quoted a passage from Max Brooks' World War Z: "By refusing to admit the truth of the zombie outbreak to the world, the Communist Chinese government aided its spread due to misinformation about what was actually happening."

The resurfaced article that appears to suggest China is the most likely birthplace of a zombie apocalypse has created widespread hysteria online as people shared videos suggesting that an outbreak was underway in 2022.

How Did 'Zombies in China' Start?

While the origin of the viral videos and commentary is unknown, thousands of people across the internet have continued to share and react.

Many took to Twitter to comment on the viral trend and ask others what was happening.

"Is there actually zombies in China?" asked one internet user. While another person wrote: "I'm not trying to scare anyone but why are there people on TikTok saying there are zombies in China?"

Meanwhile, as thousands were left confused—and a little frightened—by claims of zombies appearing on their feed, others took the opportunity to share some well-timed jokes.

"If those dead people start walking around I'm going to Mars," said one Twitter user. While others joked about a new "Great Barbed Wire Wall to keep the zombies locked in."

Others began sharing false footage of so-called "zombies" made up from fictional TV, movies, and even home video designed to trick people into believing in a real outbreak.

Could There Be a Zombie Outbreak?

While memories of the fast spread of the COVID-19 virus have left some scared at the concept of a new virus and its ability to spread quickly around the world, it is important to remember that zombies do not exist.

Far from the first time a real-life zombie outbreak has been mooted, last year's infamous predictions from 1500s French philosopher Michel De Nostradamus predicted a zombie apocalypse and a global famine for 2021.

A popular element of pop culture, zombies are not real and despite research, no evidence has been found by scientists of a virus that could cause an apocalyptic event.

There are some illnesses that are known to mirror traits of fictional zombies, including rabies and leprosy, which can cause both general weakness or discomfort, fever, headache, and discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of a bite, for example.

While some illness symptoms may have similarities to the zombies seen on screen in movies and on TV, the reality is that there is no scientific evidence a zombie outbreak is likely anywhere in the world.

Despite this, those interested can find advice on how to survive a potential zombie apocalypse in a tongue-in-cheek section of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.