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Chinese Netizens Are Done with Abuse of Emergency Lane, Support Proposal for Tougher Punishments

Gabi Verberg

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As the ‘Two Sessions,’ the annual gatherings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), continue, thirty representatives of the Jiangsu NPC submitted a proposal that received a lot of attention on Chinese social media this week.

Emergency lane drivers should face tougher punishments to safeguard traffic safety, the proposal says. Illegal use of emergency lanes is commonplace in China, leading to dangerous situations and making it more difficult for rescue vehicles to make it to the scene of an accident.

Currently, drivers are fined 200 yuan ($30) for occupying the reserved lane, along with a 6-point driver’s license deduction. In some cases, they might even face some days in prison.

If it is up to the Jiangsu NPC deputies, this punishment will be increased to a 3000 yuan ($444) fine and a 12-point deduction.* This means that the offender’s driver’s license would be immediately revoked for at least three months and that the offender needs to take a 7-day training and take a new examination in order to get their license back. The 12-point deduction punishment is equal to the punishment for drunk driving or fleeing after a traffic incident.

The proposal further calls for a 15 days prison sentence when drivers are caught using the emergency lane for the third time.

The Jiangsu NPC’s proposal seems to resonate with Chinese netizens.  Within a day after the news first made its rounds, the hashtag “Proposal to Deduct 12 Points for Those Illegally Using the Emergency Lane” (#建议违法占用应急车道扣12分#) received more than 25 million views on Weibo.

One Weibo commenter says: “I propose to install a ‘photo reporting system’ where whistleblowers are rewarded with money. This money reward can come out of the fine, and I tell you, this phenomenon [of people illegally driving in the emergency lane] would be eradicated within no time.”

Another typical comment read: “I absolutely support this proposal, and in my opinion, the punishments should be even tougher.” Many others posted comparable comments, calling for “immediate detainment” and a “life-long prohibition to drive” for these lawbreakers.

What perhaps contributes to the general support for the new proposal is recent media coverage that focuses on the dangers of illegally blocking the emergency lane. Earlier this year, a viral video showed a desperate mother crying on the street when rescue workers were unable to assist her injured daughter; the ambulance was blocked because of vehicles occupying the emergency lane. At the time, the video caused outrage on social media.

This week, the Yangtse Evening Post (扬子晚报), a newspaper from Jiangsu province, published an article listing the various emergency situations where paramedics were hindered in doing their job because of illegal emergency lane driving.

Despite the public support for this proposal, there is no guarantee that it will actually be implemented. Every year, many proposals are put forward during the two-week ‘Two Sessions,’ and only some will actually lead to legislative amendments.

By Gabi Verberg

*Each driver has 12 points in his driver’s license a year that can be deducted. For “minor” violations such as speeding, talking on the phone while driving, a few points will be deducted. More serious crimes, such as running a red light or covering one’s license plate, will be punished with a 6-, 10- or 12-point reduction. Combined with this point deduction, people will often face fines or short-time imprisonment.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Local News

On Wuhan’s ‘Reopening Day’, Even Traffic Jams Are Celebrated

As the COVID-19 lockdown has ended in Wuhan, many people are happy to see the city’s traffic finally getting busy again. “I hated traffic jams before, now it makes me happy to see them.”

Manya Koetse

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It was chilly and grey in Wuhan when the coronavirus epicenter city went into a full lockdown on January 23 of this year. On April 8, 76 days later, it is sunny and twenty degrees warmer outside as people leave their homes to resume work or go for a stroll.

The end of the Wuhan lockdown is a special day for many, as the city finally lifted the 11-week-long ban that shut down all travel to and from the city in a radical effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, city residents returned to work as public transport started again. Roads, bridges, and tunnels were reopened, and the local airport resumed flights.

On Chinese social media, various hashtags relating to the Wuhan lockdown end have become popular topics. Using hashtags such as “Wuhan Lifts the Ban” (#武汉解封#), “Wuhan Open Again after 76 Days” (#武汉暂停76天后重启#), and “Wuhan Reopens” (#武汉重启#), the end of the coronavirus ban is a much-discussed news item, along with the spectacular midnight light show that was organized to celebrate the city’s reopening.

The Wuhan lightshow, image via Xinhua.

“Today has finally arrived! It’s been difficult for the people of Wuhan,” some commenters write.

According to China’s official statistics, that are disputed, over 3330 people have died from the new coronavirus since its outbreak; 80% of these fatal cases were reported in Wuhan. On April 6, authorities claimed that for the first time since the virus outbreak, there were zero new COVID-19 deaths.

Some state media, including People’s Daily, report that the reopening of restaurants and food shops is going smoothly in the city, as people – for the first time since January – are back to buying pan-fried dumplings and noodles from their favorite vendors.

Meanwhile, the fact that the traffic in some Wuhan areas is back to being somewhat congested is something that is widely celebrated on social media.

Some call the mild traffic congestions “great”, viewing it as a sign that the city is coming back to life again after practically turning into a ghost town for all these weeks.

“I hated traffic jams before, now it makes me happy to see them,” one Weibo commenter writes.

“I won’t complain about congested traffic again, because it’s a sign the streets are flourishing,” another Weibo user posted.

While netizens and media outlets are celebrating the end of the lockdown, several Chinese media accounts also remind people on social media that although the ban has been lifted, people still need to be vigilant and refrain from gathering in groups and standing close to each other.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
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China Local News

Online Anger over “Special Treatment” for Quarantined Foreigners in China

Are foreigners in quarantine being treated better than Chinese nationals? This Nanjing Daily article has triggered controversy.

Bobby Fung

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On March 27, an article titled “For the Good Health of 684 Foreigners” (“为了684个“老外”的安康”) sparked controversy online over the alleged special treatment of foreign nationals during their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

According to the article published by Nanjing Daily, Nanjing’s Xianlin Subdistrict set up a special WeChat group for foreign nationals and their families returning to the city after the Spring Festival holiday, which coincided with the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

In special WeChat groups, subdistrict officers, doctors, translators, and property managers provide assistance and daily services to these China-based foreigners. Examples of such “daily services” include delivering fresh bread or contacting pet boarding facilities.

“One young man loved online shopping on Taobao, and once we delivered twenty packages for him within one day,” one member of the service group told Nanjing Daily.

Although foreign residents in China and foreigners with previously issued visas are currently no longer allowed to enter China, they needed to undergo a two-week quarantine period upon entry until the travel ban of a few days ago.

Jiangsu Province, of which Nanjing is the capital, tightened quarantine rules on March 23, making every traveler from abroad subject to a centralized quarantine (e.g. in a hotel) for fourteen days.

The special services for returning foreigners reported by Nanjing Daily triggered controversy on Chinese social media this week. Many netizens criticized it as a “supra-nationals treatment” (超国民待遇).

Under one Weibo post by media outlet The Cover (@封面新闻), which received over one million views, many people are criticizing local officers’ favorable treatment of foreigners. One commenter writes: “Will they provide the same comprehensive services to their compatriots?”

Another person writes: “Why don’t they also adhere to the slogan of ‘Serve the People’ (..) when dealing with Chinese citizens?”

In discussing the supposed inequality between the treatment of foreigners and Chinese nationals in quarantine, many netizens raise a recent example of a quarantined Chinese student who asked the civil police staff for mineral water. In a video that circulated online in mid-March, the girl quarrels with the police for not being offered mineral water. The student, demanding mineral water over the available boiled tap water, was ridiculed for suggesting that having mineral spring water is a “human right.”

Ironically, the Nanjing Daily article explicitly mentions how the Xianlin Subdistrict deals with foreigners drinking purified water: “[This] Laowai [foreigner] wants to drink bottled purified water, [so] we bought four barrels for him (..) and carried them from the community gate to his apartment.”

The contrast in treatment of quarantined foreigners versus Chinese nationals prompted some Weibo users to reflect on their previous remarks on the female student: “I apologize for previously mocking the Chinese student at the quarantine center in Pudong, Shanghai, for demanding to drink mineral water,” one commenter writes.

In response to the online controversy, the office of the Xianlin Subdistrict clarified that Chinese nationals would receive “corresponding services” during their quarantine period. Some netizens question what these alleged “corresponding services” exactly entail.

In another media report, the official reply was that “the Subdistrict treats Chinese and foreign citizens the same.”

Over recent years, there have been many online controversies on the issue of privilege in China. Earlier this year, there was public outrage over two women driving a Benz SUV into the Palace Museum, where cars are usually not allowed.

The issue of the perceived privileges of foreigners in China has particularly triggered anger among netizens. The “preferential treatment” of overseas students and the “dorm disparities” between Chinese and foreign students in China, for example, previously became major topics of online discussion.

A popular WeChat article that comments on the Nanjing controversy of this week also lists examples of special treatment for foreigners, including cases where foreigners were not fined when breaking rules in China or being “treated better” in other ways. By now, the article has received over 100,000 views.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Bobby Fung (@bobbyfungmr)

Follow @whatsonweibo

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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