Artist Brings ‘Haha-Then-Aha’ Moments to China’s Gender Debate


SICHUAN, Southwest China — In most Chinese bookstores, there’s a section of bright pink books instructing women on how to be a good housewife or find a man before they hit 30.

But at an out-of-the-way underground art space some distance from provincial capital Chengdu’s city center, there are how-to books of a different kind. “Be a Man Who Never Cries,” instructs one. Other titles include: “Men, Don’t Lose Arguments Because You Don’t Know How to Fight” and “‘Bad Boys’ Go Everywhere; Good Boys Go to Heaven.”

It’s a typically tongue-and-cheek part of artist Wu Kangyang’s latest exhibition, held in Chengdu in October. In another area of the industrial-style room with exposed brick walls, there’s a platform where men are encouraged to sit or stand and think about why men rape women, rather than asking women what they can do to keep themselves safe from rapists. There are large white posterboards, mimicking the instructional boards you might find in a “feminine virtues” class, except these have phrases like: “Virginity is a man’s best betrothal gift;” “Do not participate in dinners where women are present; problems could creep up on you;” “Be alert on the bus. Don’t give female hoodlums an opportunity to be indecent;” and “Giving birth to a boy is useless. A married son is like spilled water.”

Since Wu’s first exhibition on heterosexuality went viral in April, he’s become known for his works that first make his audience giggle, and then reflect. It’s a unique approach in China, where many still hold traditional views on gender, and if the issues feature in art at all, artists rarely take a lighthearted tack. Wu’s witty commentary on stereotypes is especially popular online, where it plays into a national gender debate that has repeatedly surfaced in recent years following news about harassment on public transportationmedia misogyny, and misconduct in universities and workplaces. Wu’s even been given promotional support from NetEase, one of China’s biggest tech companies.

A visitor poses next to a white posterboard that reads: “Virginity is a man’s best betrothal gift,” at Wu Kangyang’s exhibition in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 24, 2018. Fan Yiying/Sixth Tone

A visitor poses next to a white posterboard that reads: “Virginity is a man’s best betrothal gift,” at Wu Kangyang’s exhibition in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 24, 2018. Fan Yiying/Sixth Tone

Born and raised in the city of Mianyang — about 130 kilometers northeast of Chengdu — Wu, now 29, developed his love of art while accompanying his mother, a retired textile worker, to the factory where she mixed colors. Despite his artistic bent, Wu caved to pressure from his parents to major in English, which they thought would make it easier for him to find work. When his classmates became teachers after graduation, Wu instead started his career in art and now works in a private art gallery. On the side, he makes money arranging holiday installations for shopping malls and follows his less lucrative passion of creating exhibitions on the issues of gender and sexuality.

It’s a subject close to home for Wu, who has known he was gay since middle school. Nevertheless, he’s never told his parents and doesn’t plan to, worried they’d isolate themselves from their friends out of shame. “Maybe they’ve already figured out that I’m gay, and it’s just that no one wants to talk about it,” Wu says. “I would feel relieved if I were to come out of the closet, but the reality might put them into a closet.” His mother and father, he says, are mostly interested in watching TV dramas and political news, respectively. They have little notion of their son’s popularity.

Wu’s latest show was inspired by an argument over China Central Television’s annual back-to-school gala, which featured a performance by a group of so-called little fresh meat entertainers — delicate, handsome, and often feminine young men. Parents criticized the national broadcaster en masse for imparting “non-masculine” and “non-positive and uplifting” values on their children. The discussion reached the highest echelons of Chinese public debate: While state news agency Xinhua said such “sissy pants” represent a “sick culture” that would negatively impact the nation’s children, Party newspaper People’s Daily argued modern society allows a diversity of interpretations of what it means to be a man.

Wu says he didn’t take the debate seriously until he noticed some middle-aged male curators that he admires share articles such as “Sissy Young Boys Lead to a Weak Country” on messaging app WeChat. “I was shocked and angry,” he says, adding that society puts pressure on men with expectations that they have a well-paid job, act tough, and don’t cry. “When ‘sissy pants’ becomes a trend, it challenges mainstream ideas and makes some people uncomfortable and anxious,” he tells Sixth Tone.

Wu decided to satirize women’s bookshelves and feminine virtues course posters because they were eye-catching and simple, making them perfect for getting his message across — and going viral on social media. But it was about more than just popularity: He wanted people to rethink their ideas.

On a chilly weekday during his six-day exhibition, visitors laugh out loud and take selfies with the installations, immediately uploading them to social media. Wu, who wears round, Harry Potter-style glasses and sports floral tattoos on his forearm, isn’t sure they’ve understood his intentions, yet he prefers not to explain his work to the visitors. “Everyone has their own views, and maybe their understanding is deeper than mine,” he says.

Wu Kangyang sits on a platform at his exhibition that encourages men to think about why they rape women, rather than asks women what they can do to keep themselves safe from rapists, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 24, 2018. Fan Yiying/Sixth Tone

Wu Kangyang sits on a platform at his exhibition that encourages men to think about why they rape women, rather than asks women what they can do to keep themselves safe from rapists, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 24, 2018. Fan Yiying/Sixth Tone

But plenty of people seem to get the message. Luo Zhihui, 23, just moved to Chengdu for a master’s degree. He identifies as gay and has read about Wu’s other gender-equality exhibitions on social media. This is his first visit. The art-lover describes himself as sissy, but it’s not a negative word in his mind. It’s just who he is. “I’m slim. I care about my looks, but it doesn’t make me less of a man,” he tells Sixth Tone after visiting the exhibition.

Luo says he’s been to a few other exhibitions calling for gender equality, but they all look too serious. Wu can’t agree more. “Many people think that when discussing social issues, they must use a kind of hateful resentment,” he says. “They must shout slogans and stand in opposition. I think this is a misunderstanding, which creates a greater communication barrier.”

Wu used a similar sense of humor in his April exhibition on heterosexuality. Visitors were presented with a “Chengdu Heterosexuals Map,” which shows the places in the city where straight men tend to hang out. Then, photoshopped news headlines: “Global Outbreak of Heterosexual Demonstrations, Anti-discrimination Fight is Everyone’s Responsibility;” “Celebrities Speak Out in Support of Heterosexual Rights;” “Heterosexual Marriage Has Been Passed, History has Been Changed.” The show was aiming to turn discourse on its head, posing a series of questions: What is heterosexuality? What is the origin of heterosexuality? How can you recognize someone who is heterosexual?

Once again, that exhibition had been inspired by the news. That same month, microblogging site Weibo purged LGBT-related comics and videos amid a crackdown on violent and “lewd” content. A few days later, the site backtracked after a public backlash. Wu, who is unimpressed by the efforts of LGBT groups in Chengdu, believes his art can help raise awareness about LGBT issues.

Sometime before noon during the October exhibition, Huang Xinya walks in. Believing that gender equality is an important issue, she decided to check it out after reading about it on Douban, an app for reviews of books, movies, and art. Huang, 24, says she is one of the many young women who are fans of the “little fresh meat” aesthetic. “I don’t understand why many people say they are sissy,” she says. “And even if they are, what’s the problem?”

With Chinese women becoming more independent and fighting for equality in all aspects of life, Huang says, “we can like any type of men we want, instead of longing for a tough and masculine man to take care of us.” Huang mentions the changing attitudes toward men wearing makeup: “Everyone has the right to make themselves look good, which has nothing to do with gender.” Plus, she adds, “there are more than just two genders, male and female, in the world.”

Joy Lin, the founder of Shanghai-based feminist organization We and Equality, finds many Chinese people still hold stereotypical views on how men and women should dress and behave. She mentions a “feminine virtues” summer camp held in eastern Zhejiang province last August which reportedly taught children that wearing revealing clothes would cause rape. A similar workshop held in northeastern China in 2017 taught married women to swallow their husbands’ insults and eschew divorce at all cost. At the same time, many schools in recent years have introduced masculinity courses that teach boys how to be “true” men.

Visitors at Wu Kangyang’s exhibit are encouraged to put a red sticker on a water bottle if they prefer being straight in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 24, 2018. Fan Yiying/Sixth Tone

Visitors at Wu Kangyang’s exhibit are encouraged to put a red sticker on a water bottle if they prefer being straight in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Oct. 24, 2018. Fan Yiying/Sixth Tone

Lin praises Wu’s use of irony in challenging mainstream beliefs. “It’s a smart way for spreading ideas and educating the public,” she says. “These ironic phrases first make people laugh, and then think.”

While Wu believes that Chinese society has become more aware and supportive of gender and sexual minorities, LGBT and feminism are still sensitive topics. The downtown mall that was the original venue for his heterosexuality exhibition backed out of hosting it, meaning he held it in a private art space instead. He was recently given a list of words that are unofficially banned by authorities, including “homosexual.” And although Chengdu — his home for over six years — has a reputation for being China’s queer capital, Wu believes this reputation is unfounded. People in Chengdu care about pandas — there’s a breeding center in the city — and will line up for hours to try a newly opened hot pot restaurant, but when it comes to gender equality and the LGBT movement, Chengdu trails behind cities like Shanghai and Beijing, he says.

“I’m trying to make Chengdu a better city by making people think about real issues in my own humorous way,” Wu says. “I hope one day when Chengdu is in the headlines, it’s for more than just cute pandas and tasty hot pot.”

Nevertheless, Wu’s work has already made some people change their minds. After seeing Wu’s success, the downtown mall venue realized they made a mistake. “[They] regretted canceling the exhibition after seeing it was that popular,” Wu says. “I then responded that they’re not very farsighted.”


This article was published on Sixth Tone.

Netizens Upset over Chinese Harvard Girl News Story


The news that an ordinary Chinese high school girl from Hangzhou was accepted by Harvard University created a stir amongst Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo this week. Thousands of Weibo users criticized the Chinese media for hiding information from the public when it turned out that the girl is actually a US citizen from a wealthy family.

Reports of an ordinary girl named Guo Wenjing from Hangzhou getting an early admission to Harvard University became big news on Chinese social media this week. The news created commotion amongst Chinese netizens for various reasons: first for the fact that a Hangzhou high school student was admitted to Harvard, and then for the fact that the story was partially untrue.

According to Qianjiang Evening News (钱江晚报), Guo Wenjing gained an early admission to Harvard with her talent in programming, and excellence in various fields. In 2014 and 2015, she won gold two times at the Olympiad in Informatics in the US. She was invited by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to participate in a programming tournament and won the second prize. Apart from her academic achievements, Guo has also taken up sailing and skiing. In addition, she attended summer schools of well-known universities such as Harvard and Berkeley.

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A number of major state media, including CCTV News (央视新闻) and People.com (人民网), posted about Guo’s admission on their Weibo account. They quoted the secretary of Harvard in China, who praised Guo: “Her computer skills are as excellent as any top American female programmer of her age, she got full marks in five subjects in the AP [Advanced Placement] exams, she speaks fluent English, and she is beautiful. She is almost perfect!”

Guo’s admission caught the attention of netizens, and the topic “High school girl’s early admission to Harvard” (#高三女孩被哈佛提前录取#) soon became trending on Sina Weibo. Thousands of users commented on the topic. Some complimented Guo on her achievements, calling her “the pride of China”, while others pointed out that China once again was sending its top talents abroad, and that Guo would “get a green card and then contribute to building up a better US”.

However, the next day, netizens exposed how Chinese major media outlets had left out some important information about Guo. Shibugui, the president of the Global Leaders Lab, revealed on his Weibo that Guo actually is an American citizen and that both of her parents graduated from MIT. Her father is the chairman of a publicly held company. He writes: “The media did not mention her nationality, and made her look like Cinderella. They sensationalized the news.”

The topic then became trending again, this time under the hashtag of “Harvard girl’s truth” (#哈佛女孩真相#), receiving a lot of attention on Weibo.

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“It’s a good thing that the Chinese media is trying to publish positive things, but please let them do thorough research because Chinese netizens are smart,” says Weibo user Echo.

The majority of Weibo users believe that Guo is an excellent student with great talents, but say that her success should not be glamorized. A user called “Dragon to the Sky” says that family background has a huge influence on one’s education: “I don’t think we can learn from her case. She was born in the US and raised by PhD parents. Her parents are probably more intelligent than our teachers. For ordinary Chinese, we have to fight for better education resources through continuous exams and competitions. So, CCTV and People.com, what are you trying to say by posting this news? ”

“When will Chinese media stop twisting the truth to make news?” user “JL” says: “They always make up these positive cases, it’s been enough! It seems like they want to encourage children from poor families to study harder, but the reality is that children from ordinary families don’t have the opportunity to attend summer school at Harvard. Do you think children can have hobbies like sailing and skiing just by working hard? Are you kidding me?”

Dongfeng Paiman, former reporter of Hangzhou Newspaper Group, adds: “The media made a shameless attempt to represent an American girl whose parents are PhDs as a beautiful straight-A student from an ordinary Chinese family. They hope to stimulate all Chinese parents who have big dreams for their children.”

“What they are saying seems correct,” a mother on Weibo replies: “I saved the news on my phone immediately after I read it. I wanted to share it with my son later, but my husband had already told him ahead of me. All Chinese parents would be excited over this. It’s a great example to encourage our kids!”

As Chinese netizens are fed up with untrue reports from the media, some of them try to figure out the best way to deal with this situation. User “Orz” asks: “The questions is, if it is a crime for Chinese netizens to post and repost untrue information, then what are the consequences for these public media accounts when they post these things on Weibo?”

User Chen Haiyan says: “Those who write false news should be detained for half a month. Only by that can we keep the internet clean and clear.”

By Yiying Fan

This article was published on What’s on Weibo.

Weibo Controversy over “Beijing Subway Breastfeeding”


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Two separate events where women were publicly shamed for breastfeeding in public have caused controversy on Weibo. The issue attracted the attention of UNICEF and Beijing authorities. 

A Sina Weibo user posted a picture of a young mother breastfeeding her baby in the subway in Beijing this week. The user, a 21-year-old woman, wrote that she felt that the mother needed to “pay attention to her manners in public place” and that she should not “expose her sex organ”. As the young mother looked like a rural woman according to the Weibo user who took her picture, she also added that “this is the Beijing subway, not the bus in your village”.

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The picture became a trending topic on Sina Weibo under the hashtag of “Beijing Subway Breastfeeding” (#北京地铁哺乳#), and accumulated over 70,000 comments and 80 million views.

“I don’t care if people are watching. I’ll breastfeed when my baby is hungry.”

Weibo netizens collectively responded to the issue; some agreeing with it being inappropriate, some defending the mother, and some attacking the woman who took the picture.

Some mothers write that a mother should always breastfeed her baby when it needs to be fed; she cannot let the child go hungry, no matter if it is on the subway. A Weibo user named Liz confesses: “I used to say I would never breastfeed my baby in public. I didn’t understand this behavior either. Just like most netizens, I thought I could try to avoid it or at least breastfeed in the public toilet. But after I became a mother, I realized there are too many uncertainties when you are out with the baby. I don’t care if people are watching. I’ll breastfeed when my baby is hungry.”

“Once I breastfed my baby in a toilet at the airport because I couldn’t find a nursing room. I still blame myself for feeding him with the smell of the toilet,” user “Anna Bailan” confides. “I wasn’t strong enough to breastfeed him in public. If the same thing happens again, I won’t let my baby suffer again, even if someone might post my boob online.”

“If you don’t like it, you can avoid it instead of taking a picture of it and posting it on Weibo.”

There are also comments teeming with anger and criticism, directed at the picture taker: “As a woman yourself, you will be a mother someday. You are arrogant and feel too good about yourself. You don’t even have a basic conscience. This is exactly what the younger generation lacks right now,” writes user “Sweet”.

A user named Sophya adds: “I feel so angry after reading this. This young mother did nothing wrong but to feed her baby when it was hungry. If you don’t like it, you can avoid it instead of taking a picture of it and posting it on Weibo. Do you have any idea how much damage you’re causing to this mother?”

“How I pity those who would actually belittle a mother for taking care of her child.”

The controversy over breastfeeding in public did not stop at the Beijing subway issue this week. Other news about breastfeeding in public also raised concern amongst Weibo netizens.

The issue concerned a U.S. case, where a man in Indiana took a picture of a woman breastfeeding her son in a restaurant and posted it on social media. “I understand that your child is hungry,” he commented, “but could you please at least cover your boob up?” The American mother, named Conner Kendall, then stroke back with a long post on Facebook. “You have given me a platform and a drive to advocate breastfeeding ferociously,” she wrote: “You’ve inspired me into a call of action. Rest assured, there will be action. Not only by me but others like me who feel you violated them and their rights. How I pity those who would actually belittle a mother for taking care of her child.”

Many Weibo users praise Kendall for being brave and strong. As user “Xiongbi” says: “She’s such a great mother for being brave enough to say things like that. We are also lucky enough to have her educate us and persuade us by her beautiful words.”

“Breast milk is the perfect natural health food for babies, which cannot be replaced.”

“God made mothers able to feed their children from their own breasts. It is the society that sexualizes them. Children do not sexualize breasts until they are taught to do so. True it is! Applaud her for being courageous,” expresses user “Wind and free”.

The “Beijing Breastfeeding issue” has not only created a buzz amongst netizens, it also made them realize the importance of establishing breastfeeding rooms in public. User “Evadi” is one of them: “I hope we can take advantage of this incident to continue urging the government to build more nursing rooms so that we can provide a better environment for breastfeeding moms in public places.”

UNICEF China also got involved in this topic on its Weibo account, and called for the whole society to be more supportive of breastfeeding by building more public nursing rooms: “Breast milk is the perfect natural health food for babies, which cannot be replaced. All mothers and babies have the right to on-demand feeding, including in a public place. A good nursing room could let mothers breastfeed their babies in a quiet and comfortable space. Infants and young children also have the right to enjoy public resources.”

Beijing authorities have been quick to respond to the issue. According to the local news program “News Late Peak” (新闻晚高峰), Beijing is to set maternal and infant rooms in subway stations of large passenger volumes and build maternal facilities in the toilets of other stations.

In the meantime, the woman who uploaded the Beijing breastfeeding picture has deleted her post and apologized for her behavior. “I didn’t expect that my post would cause such a stir on Weibo. I’m young and ignorant. This is a mother’s unconditional love to her child – she can do anything for her child, which I might not be able to experience yet. I’m so sorry for being disrespectful.”

By Yiying Fan

Featured image: women breastfeeding on Beijing subway on Breastfeeding Day, Aug 1st 2015, source).

 

This article was published on What’s on Weibo.

China Cancels Bon Jovi Gigs over Dalai Lama Pics


bonjovi3Bon Jovi’s first ever concerts in China was suddenly cancelled by government officials on September 9th. The band had been due to play Shanghai and Beijing next week.

The concert organizer AEG posted the cancellation on its public account on Sina Weibo: “We are sorry to announce that Bon Jovi’s concerts in Shanghai (September 14th) and Beijing (September 17th) have been canceled for some reason. A full ticket refund will be arranged. We apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment.”

Inconvenience and disappointment indeed. Many fans have been waiting for this concert for years and were thrilled about the upcoming gigs. Fans who don’t live in Shanghai or Beijing have booked flights and hotels just for the concert.

Weibo user “Z_SCAN” comments,

“We purchased the concert tickets in June and booked the flights and hotels. The concerts is due on 14th and you told us it’s canceled on 9th? Do you think the ticket refund could solve all the problems? What about the flights and the hotels we’ve booked? Do you have any idea how upset we are?”

Angry, disappointed, regretful and helpless. Chinese fans are fed up that the organizer did not even offer a reason for the cancellation as usual.

“What was the reason?” user “Aoe518” asks, just like a lot of other fans.

“If it’s the same reason with Maroon 5’s concert in July, then I’m wondering how Bon Jovi’s concert got approved in the first place? If the organizer can’t handle the authorities and Culture Ministry (文化部), please do not invite any international performers over to China! It has happened so many times in the past already.”

Although no official reason was given for the cancelation, netizens and fans have figured that it was political related. As media reports suggest that the Party discovered the US rock band had performed in front of a picture of Dalai Lama at a concert in Taiwan five years ago and had previously tweeted about the spiritual leader.

The issue of Tibet has always been sensitive in China and it’s extremely sensitive at the moment as the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region is approaching.

Bon Jovi’s fans on Weibo call on “let the music away from politics”. User “Zhao_Z” says,

“Music can heal and comfort us. It is a way to express individual freedom and make us think deeply. China is doing really a bad job on this. The government has closed the door to so many great musical and television works. We have the right to hear other voices and opinions!”

User “Star Commander” criticizes that China is a narrow-minded nation.

“Bon Jovi is such a good public figure – positive lyrics, healthy performance form, no sandal, etc. The gig got canceled in China simply because of  a picture of a monk? This is unbelievable. If China keeps being so narrow-minded, we will always be looked down upon by other countries.”

Other netizens can’t help but tease that the gig’s name should have been

“Long Live the Community Party · Jon Bon Jovi China Live”.

Gao Xiaosong, song writer as well as the Chairman of Alibaba Music Group also posts on his Weibo page that Alibaba Music had to postpone a lot of projects due to political reasons.

“(The government) wishes only if they could provide each Chinese individuals with a political advisor (政治辅导员) and each company with a political commissar (政委).”

However, not all the netizens are disappointed about the cancelation of the gig. Some believe that the government has made the right choice. User “Lakeshire” insists,

“As a celebrity, you are not supposed to interfere with other countries’ politics, especially if you are about to make tons of money from that country. Since Bon Jovi has chosen to support DL (Dalai Lama), he should get prepared to be banned.”

She continues that Chinese fans shouldn’t support any separatist to perform in China.

“What if they play all of these pictures of DL (Dalai Lama)during the concert in Shanghai and Beijing?”

Chinese netizens rarely talks about Dalai Lama on Weibo. Dalai Lama (达赖喇嘛) and Dalai (达赖) are not searchable on Weibo according to the relevant laws and regulations (根据相关法律法规和政策). Weibo users are “openly” commenting on the cancelation announcement, replacing the key words with “DL”, “some Lai (某赖)” or “the monk”.

“Too Loud, Too Rude”: Switzerland Introduces Separate Trains for Chinese Tourists


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Switzerland has introduced special coaches for Chinese tourists, as locals consider them to be ‘loud’ and ‘rude’. The news has triggered mixed reactions amongst Weibo’s netizens.

According to China’s National Tourism Administration (中国国家旅游管理局), China now sends more tourists abroad than any other country in the world. The number of Chinese outbound tourists exceeded 100 million in 2014, spending $155 billion.

Although destination countries welcome the money spent by Chinese travelers, locals often can’t stand the chaos and hassle some Chinese tourists bring to their countries. They consider them to be loud, rude, pushy, and all over the place.

“They’re loud and rude, and spit on the floor.”

Such is the case in Switzerland, visited by one million Chinese tourists every year. Locals and Swiss tourists often feel harassed by the Chinese, Heute reports, especially on the famous Rigi Railways. Chinese tourists are said to be “loud and rude”, and they “spit on the floor”. Their misbehavior has lead Rigi Railways to take special measures: since August there are extra trains for ‘Asian tourists’, and from September extra ones for ‘international guests’. There are also special signs on the toilet explaining tourists how (not) to use the toilet, according to Heute.

Although Rigi Railways officially has opened extra train carriages for ‘Asian guests’, a local Swiss newspaper clearly stated they were especially meant for Chinese, its headline being: “Zu laut, zu frech – Schweiz führt Extra-Züge für Chinesen ein” (“Too Loud, Too Rude: Switzerland Introduces Extra Trains for Chinese Tourists”).

The newspaper also published one of the train’s illustrations that instruct tourists to sit on toilet seats rather than to squat on them. The railway company assumes that Chinese tourists often stand on the toilet, and don’t clean their footprints afterwards.

“Some Chinese have bad manners, but we’re not all like that.”

Once the news was posted on Sina Weibo on August 25th, it gained over 2000 comments in one day. The reactions were mixed.

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Many users consider it to be discrimination against Chinese tourists. User “Shiya” doubts Europeans can tell the differences between Asians: “They can’t distinguish the different Asians from different countries. Chinese, Japanese and Koreans probably look the same to them. Why are they so sure that the footprints are left by Chinese? The news says that the extra coaches are meant for Asians. However, it tried to draw the public’s attention by emphasizing it is for Chinese in the title. This is discrimination.”

User “Luoluo” follows: “I thought people from western countries advocate freedom and equality, and that they oppose to discrimination. But to me, this [the news] is pure and simple discrimination. I admit that some Chinese don’t really have good manners, but it doesn’t mean we are all like that. I’m fed up that we are blamed for all the uncivilized behavior by Asians. Of course we need to stand up against misbehaviour, but we can’t endure the discrimination.”

“If you’re used to squatting, you just can’t poo by sitting on the toilet.”

Some users try to explain the culture of squatting on the toilet in China. Although ‘western-style’ toilets are popular in China’s bigger cities and airports, there are still lots of squatting toilets, especially in rural areas. Weibo user “JaneyPan” says that from a physiological standpoint, squatting is the best toilet position. “If you are used to squatting, you just can’t poo by sitting on the toilet. But I agree that we need to clean the footprints afterwards.” She then adds: “Maybe the Switzerland railway should consider building squatting toilets on the carriages meant for Chinese tourists.”

“They think they can do anything they want because they have money.”

A large number of netizens also self-reflect, saying it is high time to promote civilized behaviour amongst Chinese travelers, and restore the country’s image. User “Beer Happiness” comments: “Many Chinese now want to travel abroad to see the world as we are getting wealthy. Yet, a small amount of Chinese tourists with low quality have damaged our nation’s image. Most foreigners haven’t been to China. They know things about China through the news. That’s why they think all Chinese people are rude.”

The Switzerland railway issue is not the first case where Chinese tourists are treated differently. Earlier this year, Mainland Chinese tourists were temporarily banned from entering the Wat Rong Khun temple, one of the top tourist destinations in Chiang Rai, Thailand, because of inappropriate toilet usage. The temple was reopened to Chinese tourists on the condition that their tour guides would be held responsible for cleaning the toilets. As user “Xj” suggests: “The tour guide should give etiquette lessons to its clients, especially to the middle-aged tourists. They think can do anything they want because they have money. This is wrong.”

The Chinese government has taken actions to stop the uncivilized behaviour of Chinese tourists abroad. The National Tourism Administration has started to track the actions of Chinese citizens abroad since last year April. Provincial and national authorities will be in touch with unruly citizens upon their return to China. This measurement came into effect after a group of Chinese travelers scalded a flight attendant with hot water and threatened to blow up a plane from Bangkok to Nanjing.

“The saddest thing when traveling abroad is to witness the bad behaviour of our people. They really harm China’s reputation,” says user “FPA”: “I understand the intention of these foreign countries who treat Chinese tourists differently. I mean, who wants to travel with Chinese tourists who are loud, rude and fight over small things?” In the end, like a lot of other netizens, user “FPA” calls on Chinese travelers to respect the locals and their culture: “We are making progress on this. I just hope foreign countries won’t discriminate against us.”

By Yiying Fan

This article was published on What’s on Weibo.