Lost iPhone leads to special China-US friendship

Lost iPhone leads to special China-US friendship
Brother Orange and Matt Stopera, the orginal owner of his iPhone, pose in front of a tangerine tree on Wednesday.

The meeting between an American and a Chinese culminated a bromantic story in which a special bond was created between the two with the help of a lost iPhone and the all-mighty Internet.

"Welcome to China", the Chinese man dubbed "Brother Orange" said to Matt Stopera at Jieyang Chaoshan International Airport in South China's Guangdong province on Tuesday evening, and Stopera replied with the Chinese greeting "ni hao".

Then the Chinese man took out the iPhone which had brought the two men together across the ocean, and they both burst into laughter.

This scheduled trip was exciting for Stopera. He described his first day in China as "magical" when revealing on Chinese microblog Sina Weibo that he "hung out with Bro Orange all day on Tuesday."

According to Stopera's latest Weibo updates on Wednesday, he had an "amazing" day with Bro learning about Hakka culture and they have taken a mud bath.

The story began in February when photos from China appeared on Stopera's iCloud's photo sharing service after his iPhone went missing in New York. Contents of the photos on Stopera's iPhone included Chinese characters, signboard of a Chinese restaurant, and a bald man posing by an orange tree, whom he jokingly referred to as Brother Orange.

The photos were believed to have been uploaded to iCloud via an iPhone Stopera had lost last year, and which had somehow found its way to the second market in China and ended up with Brother Orange.

Stopera, an editor with news website Buzzfeed, then posted his story online which created a buzz on Twitter. A Chinese Web user reposted the story on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, and Chinese Internet users began to track down Brother Orange.

Since being launched, the hashtag #looking for Bro Orange# was read by more than 50 million netizens on Sina Weibo, and within 48 hours of the search starting, Bro Orange turned up online.

It turned out that Bro Orange is not an orange grower, but a restauranteur in Meizhou, Guangdong province, and the secondhand phone was given to him as a gift by a relative.

On his Weibo account, Bro Orange invited Stopera to visit his hometown and taste Hakka cuisine, and Stopera replied him on his newly opened Weibo account with Chinese Web users serving as translators.

The two then went on to set up a meeting in China on March 18.

To welcome his American friend, Bro Orange hung up a banner and learned English. At the end of the romantic story, Matt Stopera arrived in China to meet Bro Orange on Tuesday.

Chinese Web users hailed the special friendship between the two. As one netizen put it: "T he distance between them, international borders and even language will not pose an obstacle to their bromance."

Meizhou is a city some 370 kilometres from Shenzhen, where Taiwan's manufacturer Foxconn makes the iPhone.

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