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Shenzhen to Launch China’s First Women-Only Subway Cars

Shenzhen is going to run a trial with women-only subway cars for the convenience and safety of female passengers. On Weibo, many netizens do not agree with the plan to segregate male and female passengers.

Qing Yan

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Shenzhen is going to run a trial with women-only subway cars for the convenience and safety of female passengers. On Weibo, many netizens do not agree with the plan to segregate male and female passengers.

Shenzhen is introducing China’s first women-only subway cars. A standing member of the city’s municipal committee confirmed the new measure recently, NetEase reports. Two to three operating lines will be picked out for trial rides before wider implementation. The train carriages will only be ‘women-only’ within the busiest hours. Beyond these hours, male passengers are also free to enter these trains.

The decision follows a proposal by Guangdong’s Political Consultative member Su Zhongyang (苏忠阳) titled “Regarding Setting up Women-Only Carriages on Guangzhou’s Metro Lines” (关于广州地铁设立女性专用车厢) which pointed out that female passengers are more vulnerable to sexual harassment or inappropriate situations in overcrowded trains during peak hours.

“There may be too many people inside a train during rush hour, making body contact between passengers inevitable. This can be tricky as it might instigate sexual harassment,” Su Zhongyang noted. In addition to his role in politics, Su is also the president of a local company in Guangzhou.

The proposal mentions a recent poll in which 81.9% of respondents believed that sexual harassment occurs on the metro. 21.6% believed it occurs frequently. “The issue is more serious during Guangzhou’s summer, ” Su said: “During the long summers many women wear shorts and are more vulnerable to sexual harassment.”

But the reality seems to paint a much milder picture. According to the statistic from Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, a total of 74 cases of sexual harassment have been reported from 2015 up to the present. The crime rates at Guangzhou’s metro stations have been the lowest of all members in CoMET* for many years. (*CoMET: Community of Metro, a global organization joined by 32 major metro operators worldwide.)

The majority of Chinese netizens also did not seem to agree with Su’s stance. On Weibo, an online poll by China News Service showed that 59.7% of respondents opposed the measure, saying it goes against gender equality and is a form of sex-based discrimination.

“What’s next? Should we tell women not to leave the house in order to protect their safety?”, one netizen wondered. “Segregating women from men is not the way to solve the problem of sexual harassment,” others said.

Many commenters did say the subway should have a special space for pregnant women, as entering an overcrowded carriage with a big belly might be risky for them.

Another issue that is highlighted, is that the women-only carriages might lead to a waste of traffic resources. Guangzhou subway staff told Chinese media that creating “women-only trains” does not necessarily mean that all female passengers will choose to ride them. Because male passengers will not enter them during peak hours, it might lead to more congestion in other carriages.

Despite ongoing criticism, Wang Rong, the Chairman of Guangdong’s Political Consultative Conference, is optimistic about the initiative: “Adding women-only carriages will have a significant impact on issues such as public transport and citizens’ rights. And, most importantly, it may help to boost the image of our city – it shows our care for humanity and for a civilized society.”

By Qing Yan

Edited by Manya Koetse.
©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Qing Yan is a Shanghai-based copywriter and analyst, specialized in Chinese marketing and luxury brands. Besides his expertise in marketing analysis, Zhejiang-born Qing is a bilingual reporter with a focus on Chinese history, culture, and politics.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    June 10, 2017 at 5:55 am

    “But the reality seems to paint a much milder picture. According to the statistic from Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, a total of 74 cases of sexual harassment have been reported from 2015 up to the present.”

    That does not prove that it does not happen. Perhaps the women are too ashamed to report the occurrences or they think that reporting it will not help anyway.

    Seperating male and females is however a dumb solution because it does not solve the cause of the problem.

    Ed

  2. Avatar

    Bailey

    June 13, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    The subway cars will be ‘female priority,’ not ‘female only.’ Men will be allowed to enter if there’s room left over in the cars. I’m not sure where the last two sentences in the first paragraph of this article came from, but it’s not any official source I’ve read.

    For reference: http://www.sznews.com/news/content/2017-06/08/content_16400604.htm

    • Avatar

      admin

      June 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Bailey,we will check again with the author. But various sources say that the cars will be “women only” (or as you say “women priority” 女性专用) during peak hours (“对于这样做可能增加地铁运行成本的担忧,苏忠阳介绍,高峰期时将列车一节车厢临时设为女性车厢,这样设计不需要增加任何费用,仅需在电子屏上显示提醒,增加女性乘客的选择”) and not outside of the peak hours. http://www.sohu.com/a/147587625_123753

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China Local News

Knife-Wielding Woman Goes on Rampage at Guixi Primary School

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground.

Manya Koetse

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A woman in Guixi, a county-level city in Jiangxi’s Yingtan, has been taken into custody after stabbing people at a primary school on Monday, May 20, around noon. The incident resulted in at least two fatalities and left ten others injured.

Shortly after the incident, videos and photos began circulating on WeChat, showing young children covered in blood on the ground, victims of the woman’s stabbing rampage at the Mingde Primary School in Guixi’s Wenfang.

The incident immediately attracted significant attention on Weibo, where netizens not only commented on the tragedy of innocent children being involved in such a horrific crime but also on the unusual fact that the suspect is female; as typically, perpetrators of such crimes are male.

Others also questioned why the school security guards were not present to prevent such an incident and how the woman managed to gain access to the school grounds in the first place.

The 45-year-old female suspect is a native of Guixi. It’s reported that she used a paring knife to carry out the stabbing attack on the school premises.

Shortly after the incident, local authorities called on blood donation centers in Guixi to extend their opening hours, and local residents started queuing up to donate blood to help out the victims who are still being treated for their injuries.

Another question that lingers is why the woman would commit such an atrocious crime. People suggest it is bàofù shèhuì (报复社会), a Chinese term that translates to “retaliate against society” or “taking revenge on society.”

Baofu shehui is often cited as a type of criminal motivation for knife-wielding incidents in China, particularly those occurring at schools, where individuals with personal grievances and/or mental health issues commit these extreme crimes. Such incidents have happened multiple times in the past, notably between 2010 and 2012, during a series of elementary school and kindergarten attacks.

Different from these kinds of attacks in Europe or the US, it often involves older perpetrators who are disillusioned, frustrated, and alienated from their communities amid rapidly changing social and economic conditions in China.

But for many netizens, such a possible motivation does not make sense. Some commenters wrote: “Taking revenge on society should never be done by venting one’s anger against children.”

Others wish the worst upon the perpetrator. One popular comment says, “I hope she gets the death penalty, and that the victims’ families get to execute her.”

By Manya Koetse

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China Insight

Red Cross Society of China in Bad Light Due to Online Rumors after Gansu Earthquake

Even though the rumors surrounding the Red Cross might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

Manya Koetse

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A handwarmer for 500 yuan ($70), a tent for 2200 yuan ($308), a blanket for 100 yuan ($14)? An online list detailing items supposedly procured by the Gansu Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts has ignited controversy on Chinese social media in recent days. Although the Red Cross has denied all rumors, the incident underscores public skepticism towards the organization.

After the devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Jishishan (积石山), a county in China’s Gansu Province’s Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, on December 18, Chinese social media platforms were flooded with news related to the disaster. The overnight earthquake killed at least 148 people and left hundreds injured.

News of the earthquake resonated deeply throughout the country, and the ongoing search and rescue operations and relief efforts, hindered by landslides, ruined infrastructure, and freezing temperatures, have attracted major attention online.

While much of the discourse revolves around the goodness of the people contributing to charities and doing all they can to help victims in the affected areas, there is also public distrust surrounding the motives of some charities or helping organizations that might use the disaster as an opportunity to make a profit.

One hotly debated topic revolves around the Red Cross Society of China, after a list surfaced online of items allegedly purchased by the Gansu Red Cross for relief efforts in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake.

Image published on Weibo via Red Cross Society of China (@中国红十字会总会).

The procurement list raised controversy due to the high prices of the common items listed, and because of a supposed “management fee” (管理费) of 1.6 million yuan ($224k).

In response, the Red Cross refuted these claims, asserting that they had not issued any such list (#甘肃红十字称没发布任何物资清单#). On December 24, the Gansu Red Cross took to Weibo (@甘肃省红十字会) to clarify that the circulating information was “grossly inaccurate.” They assured the public that all donations would directly aid earthquake relief efforts, without incurring management fees.

The Red Cross statement on Weibo.

Even though the procurement list might be false, the public concerns surrounding charity efforts are real.

“Why does the Red Cross end up in the top trending lists every time?” one commenter wondered: “Their information should be more transparent and timely.”

Others also suggested that merely denying the rumors was not enough, and that they hoped that the Red Cross would provide more details and information to show netizens, of whom many donated money, how their charity money is being spent to help relief efforts in the affected areas in Gansu and Qinghai.

The fact that the Red Cross Weibo post did not allow any commenting did not help: “Why are you afraid to let us openly discuss this?”

 
Red Cross Society of China: Tainted by Suspicion
 

The Red Cross of China, the nation’s largest charitable organization, continues to grapple with a tarnished reputation that partly stems from the 2011 “Guo Meimei Incident.”

Guo Meimei (郭美美), whose real name is Guo Meiling, became an infamous internet celebrity in the summer of 2011 after flaunting her excessive wealth online whilst claiming to work as a “commercial general manager” for the Red Cross Society of China.

The issue severely eroded the society’s credibility, which has been designated by the government as the central public donation organization during times of disasters (Cheng 2016). From luxury handbags to sports cars, the 19-year-old Guo showed off her money on Weibo, and quickly went viral on various message boards as people were angered over corruption and potential misuse of charity money.

Guo Meimei

Despite efforts by the Red Cross Society to debunk these rumors and distance itself from Guo, speculations persisted. Many speculated about Guo’s potential ties to the organization, even if she did not officially work there. As highlighted by Cheng (2016), the public’s negative sentiment toward the Red Cross triggered “a chain of credibility crises” and even spread to other charitable groups in China.

During the 2020 Wuhan Covid outbreak, the Red Cross faced scrutiny for allegedly stockpiling public donations of medical supplies in warehouses rather than promptly distributing them to frontline medical personnel facing shortages.

The current allegations against the Red Cross of China in the aftermath of the Gansu Earthquake also echo other past controversies, such as the one they dealt with after the 2008 Sichuan quake. Red Cross officials were then also accused of misusing donations by purchasing needlessly expensive tents and vehicles.

 
Donations for the ‘Underdog’: The Han Hong Foundation
 

The growing public distrust towards the Red Cross has arguably paved the way for other Chinese charities to gain prominence. A prime example is the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation (韩红爱心慈善基金会), established in 2012 by renowned Chinese folk singer Han Hong (韩红, 1971).

Although Han Hong has been engaged in charity for many years, during which she invested a lot of her own money, the charity she established became more known after the Han Hong Love Charity Foundation was committed to aid efforts during the Wuhan Covid outbreak in 2020 and the Henan floods in 2021.

Han Hong (center), picture via Xiaohongshu fan of Han Hong.

After the earthquake in Gansu on December 18th, Han Hong’s organization immediately organized rescue teams and provided people in the affected areas with clothes and (medical) supplies. Hang Hong was able to rake in millions thanks to her reputation of being compassionate and altruistic, as well as through her strong network in China’s entertainment industry, leading numerous Chinese celebrities to support her relief efforts.

But Han Hong’s organization is also affected by the public distrust surrounding charity in China. On December 23, it was rumored that her Charity Foundation was officially asked to leave the disaster area as well as to hand over a portion of their donations.

The foundation refuted these claims by issuing a statement on December 25 (#韩红基金会辟谣#).

Statement by Han Hong Love Charity Foundation refuting rumors that their charity work was hindered by officials.

In the public view, there seems to be a big difference between perceptions of large entities like the Red Cross and other ‘official’ charitable organizations versus smaller, more independent initiatives like the Han Hong foundation, which operates as a private charitable entity.

Reflecting on the rumors surrounding both the Red Cross and Han Hong’s foundation, one Weibo commenter noted: “These rumors come into existence because so many of these so-called charitable foundations actually treat charity as their business. And so, they become ‘competitors.’”

Meanwhile, Han Hong’s organization stresses that it operates under the guidance and oversight of the party and government, and only provide emergency support through their support.

In online discussions on the power of the Red Cross versus Han Hong’s organization, some commenters suggest that it is time for the government and authorities to reflect on why a private organization would be more trusted than the Red Cross, a government organized NGO.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “What Han Hong does is true charity instead of business.” Another person replied: “The biggest disaster here is actually the erosion of public trust.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Cheng, Yang. 2016. “Social Media Keep Buzzing! A Test of Contingency Theory in China’s Red Cross Credibility Crisis.” International Journal of Communication, June 2016: pp. 3241+.

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