China gets tough on train ‘seat robbers’ who refuse to move

  • Two women taken into custody after they defy orders to vacate seats booked by others
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2018, 4:35am

Two Chinese rail passengers have been detained for disrupting public order after they refused to vacate allocated seats, the first reported cases of their kind in the country.

One woman, identified only by her surname Li, was ordered to serve seven days in custody over a row that erupted on a high-speed train from Wuxi in Jiangsu province last week, the Yangtse Evening News reported on Thursday.

Li argued with a man who claimed he had reserved the seat she was in, the report quoted railway police as saying.

Other passengers complained and summoned train staff and police, but Li still refused to budge.

“This is your seat? Who said so? Is your name on the seat?” the woman was quoted as saying.

Li was taken into custody when the train stopped at Nanjing South Railway Station, also in Jiangsu province.

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On the same day, a 22-year-old woman aboard a train from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Dalian in Liaoning was also detained for occupying a seat booked by another passenger.

The woman, surnamed Liu, insisted that she should take the seat because she was there first, state-run China Central Television reported.

Liu verbally abused other passengers and a railway police officer who tried to persuade her to move, causing disorder on public transport, Dalian police said. She was detained for five days under the public security law.

The two cases are so far the harshest punishment handed out to people occupying reserved seats on trains and buses, a common phenomenon that society appears less willing to tolerate.

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In August, a doctoral student surnamed Sun unleashed a storm of criticism from internet users when he took someone else’s seat on a half-empty train.

Web users posted Sun’s personal details online after footage of him refusing to give up the seat was widely shared.

Sun also fell foul of China’s social credit system, which officially recorded his transgression. He was fined 200 yuan (US$30) and the rail company said his right to buy tickets would be restricted for 180 days.