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  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:43am
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SOCIETY

Debate over behaviour on Beijing's subways

Rules conferring rights on mainlanders who travel for leisure take effect next week. Can they also change public behaviour?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 5:43am
 

A new tourism law that comes into force on Tuesday is designed to address the woes that have long dogged the mainland's soaring tourism industry. But will it put a stop to children urinating on the subway?

Children answering the call of nature on public transport, sometimes with the consent of their parents, is just one type of misbehaviour that a rising number of mainlanders, aspiring to more refined norms of public manners, find embarrassing.

Song Yating, a 25-year-old fashion industry worker, is one of many Beijingers who witness arguments, fights and other kinds of misbehaviour on the huge Beijing Subway on a daily basis.

What bothered her most recently was seeing a mother take up three subway seats during the rush hour to change her baby's diaper.

"It was so crowded. Why would the mother need three seats to change a diaper?" Song said. "If I become a mother, I will never do that. Or I would try to avoid travelling with a baby during rush hours."

Another woman, 51, who also rides the subway to work, said she saw fights every day. "When it gets crowded, people lose their tempers easily," she said.

Recently, she witnessed two fights in one day, with arguments breaking out between people when they bumped against each other by accident and the situation escalating from there.

"I think it's because of the gap between the rich and the poor," she said. "People who are struggling in life need some way to show their anger. They snap on subways."

The Beijing Subway has a ridership of more than 10 million per day - more than twice the four million of Hong Kong's MTR, according to data from the Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corporation.

The network, which had 440 kilometres of track last year, is expected to grow to 660 kilometres by 2015 - about twice the size of Hong Kong's.

Johnny Li, 33, a Hong Kong native whose business is in Beijing, said he had never seen a fight break out on the capital's subways. But he travels mostly outside of rush hours.

He also thinks Beijing subways are more civilised than those in southern cities such as Guangzhou.

"People there have less sense of keeping their distance," he said. "In general, mainlanders are less sensitive than Hongkongers or Westerners about the need for [personal] space."

The most embarrassing subway scenes he has seen are children urinating in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. "When such things occur, local media assume the misbehaviour is all by mainlanders. But I'm not so sure."

In Hong Kong, a Putonghua-speaking girl was seen urinating inside an MTR carriage in late July. In April, a video clip showing a couple allowing their child to defecate in an MTR station went viral.

In Shanghai, police recently arrested a family for physically attacking a passenger who tried to stop them from allowing their infant to urinate in a subway, Dragon TV reported.

Dai Bin , director of the China Tourism Academy, says it is a Chinese cultural trait that people do not necessarily think that infants urinating in public is something dirty. "But that doesn't mean we encourage children to do that," Dai said.

In an effort to tame its own subway system, Shanghai has proposed banning eating and drinking on the Metro. It would be the third mainland city, after Guangzhou and Xian , to do so.

Dai said that when considering mainlanders' behaviour when they travelled, it was important to note that domestic and especially overseas tourism was a relatively new experience for most of them.

"There is a lot for Chinese to learn when they travel," he said.

That education should be helped by the new law. It sets out the rights of tourists, safety standards requirements, the dos and don'ts for tour operators, as well as the handling of complaints.

It comes as mainlanders, with rising disposable incomes, flock to attractions both at home and overseas. Dai's organisation estimates that more than 300 million mainlanders will travel domestically this year while the number visiting other countries will surpass 95 million.

"Many of these people are not used to travelling across the country or abroad."

So far Beijing has no bylaws on passengers' behaviour, such as the ban on eating and drinking on Hong Kong's MTR. However, the new tourism law may help to control people's public behaviour. "The law defines people's obligations when they travel. When they fail to behave properly they may get punished."

 

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12

This article is now closed to comments

andreaswagner
5000 years and still developing
layleng
Gotta love sanctimonious joyoung. So quick to dismiss Hong Kongers with one generalization yet so full of hubris that she can't see it in herself. Stupid beeatch.
VicSexton
replying to the wrong comment is pretty stupid too
joyoung
Gotta love sanctimonious Hong Kongers... instead of comparing themselves with societies at an equal or similar level of development, they compare themselves with a society that is still developing and learning. We act like the teenager laughing at his younger sister because we've gone through the growing pains while she's yet to experience them.

There is no debate here. There is but a single point to this article, which is to further the bigotry and ignorance that is already present in Asia's World City.
likingming
You are honest and brave.
sudo rm -f cy
Mainlanders allowing their infants to pee anywhere and everywhere: just like animals marking their territory. It's their way of telling the world that Hong Kong is now theirs. It's why even the most intensive education on Hong Kong etiquette won't change their behavior one bit. They feel entitled to do whatever they want.
donniemcm
They also need to learn how to queue.
Apart from not respecting the line, they have a bad habits to stick to their predecessors back for some reason.
They have to learn that the queue won't move faster.
fink
“The mainlanders need to attend a friggin Tourism Academy before they can go abroad because they need to be taught that peeing in public is not acceptable.”
.
Weird. It’s okay for a dog to pee on the street in HK but not a mainland child? Is public racism acceptable?
layleng
Oh no, I fully expect mainland children to act like dogs and pee in the street. I just don't think it's acceptable for either dogs or kids to pee in the street.
There are publicly provided dog waste pits for that purpose. Come to think of it, perhaps that's where mainland kids ought to go do their business too. You ignoramus. You're using the wrong handle. Here let me help you. Replace the "in" with "uc" and use "dumb" as a prefix.
layleng
A mainland scorpion, seeing a subway train for the first time, anxiously asked a frog to help carry him on and off the train. "How do I know you won't sting me to death while I am carrying you?" asked the frog. "I won't," said the scorpion "as that would kill me as well." And so the frog agreed. After carrying the scorpion on his back and on to the train, the frog suddenly felt the scorpion spitting, urinating and defecating on his back. When they got off the train and the scorpion was about to speak, the frog shushed him holding up one webbed foot and said, "I know, it's in your nature because you're a **** mainland cheoge". No law is going to make these filthy peasants act any differently. The mainlanders need to attend a friggin Tourism Academy before they can go abroad because they need to be taught that peeing in public is not acceptable. That's beyond Neanderthal. That's Australopithecine.
Sifu_628
Uncivil behaviors are not restricted to Beijing Subway but are universally prevalent across China today. Causes include widespread dissatisfaction, distrust and disapproval of the ruling Communist parties, administrators, their corrupt families and cronies who systematically exploit workers and migrants to reap enormous gains and benefits. People have no recourse but to vend their anger at each other; however, the time is near when the mass will unite to force an accounting of the ruling elite within China. Another cultural revolution style bloodbath is inevitable!
VicSexton
people **** on the street because they don't like the government?? interesting theory professor.
 
 
 
 
 

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