The Nanfang / Blog

Beijing Shop Hangs “No Chinese Allowed” Sign Out Front… And Means It

Posted: 11/27/2014 9:27 am
no chinese allowed fists of fury bruce lee

The infamous sign from “Fist of Fury” (1972) moments before Bruce Lee kicked it in half.

The days of Chinese people being discriminated against in their own country were thought to be in the distant past, but one Beijing shop has revived the painful memories. A shop near Yabao Road in Beijing’s Chaoyang District has decided to stop serving Chinese customers, and makes its position clear with a sign hanging out front that reads “No Chinese Allowed (staff excepted)”.

Store staff say the shop only engages in foreign trade, so it will only accept foreign customers.

no chinese allowedThe decision to ban Chinese people came shortly after a foreign customer had his wallet stolen by a Chinese person in the store. The foreigner apparently accused the store of conspiring with the thief and wanted RMB 5,000 in compensation. Furthermore, staff said they were continually treated poorly by Chinese customers who tried on clothes but didn’t buy anything.

The store felt it had no choice but to stop serving Chinese people. As one staff member said:

We don’t want to put up such a sign and make others think that we don’t respect ourselves, but there are some Chinese customers who are simply too much to handle.

Yabao Road is no stranger to segregation. In 2003, a store displayed a “No Admittance” sign written in Chinese while it simultaneously displayed another sign written in English saying “Welcome”.

Photo: People’s Daily Online, Caijing


Slowing Economy and Discrimination Puts Brakes on African Immigration to Guangzhou

Posted: 11/24/2014 4:18 pm

africans guangzhouGuangzhou, labelled by one local publication as China’s “Chocolate City” (pdf), appears to be much less attractive to African immigrants these days. The fewest number of Africans arrived in Guangzhou last year than at any time in the past 10 years, just as government policies make it harder for Africans to stay.

There’s been a 30 to 40 percent annual increase in the number of African immigrants to the city from 2003 to 2012 or so, a pattern that slowed drastically last year. While no official number was released, it is said to be a sizable difference from the peak between 2006 and 2010.

The drop is directly attributed to a cooling of the economic “gold rush” and a slowing economy. Between 2002 and 2007, trade between China and Africa expanded seven-fold, a time in which China became Africa’s second largest trading partner.

READ: African Expats Fight to Stay in Guangzhou as Policies Tighten

However, African migrants say discriminatory government policies and prejudicial attitudes from locals have made it difficult for Africans to stay and live in Guangzhou. Last year, the Chinese central government passed the Exit-Entry Administration Law that now requires expats to return to their home nations to renew their visas instead of doing so at intermediary destinations like Hong Kong. While US and Australian citizens may be enjoying a recent lifting of visa restrictions, citizens of African countries are stuck with an unsympathetic bureaucracy.

Kuala, a Congonese national that has lived in China for 15 years, explains his frustration:

In applying for the visa, I was told that because my wife is from Yunnan, we would need to go back to where her hukou is registered; in registering in Yunnan, I was told to go back to where my residence is located…

Ali (a pseudonym), a foreign exchange student from the Congo, describes the high cost of living in China:

I am a foreign exchange student, and each year it costs RMB 9,000 to get my visa, a total cost of RMB 36,000 over four years that I depend upon my parents to pay for. Foreigners in China are forbidden to work (without the proper accreditation). I can’t say that I’ve ever worked in China.

But even as the African community has built itself into a vibrant community in Guangzhou, trust and acceptance between Africans and locals has not kept pace.

READ: Guangzhou Home to Largest African Expat Population in Asia, Many Illegal

Li Zhigang, a professor at Zhongshan University, published a 2008 report saying 83 percent of local residents prefer not to live in the same neighborhood as “black people”. At the same time, 70 percent of Africans are not willing to live in the same neighborhoods as Chinese.

Members of the African community say they are discriminated against, noting many taxi drivers refuse to pick them up. Whatever the reason for falling immigration, it looks like fewer Africans and Chinese will have to live near each other in the future.


Photo: Yangcheng Evening Report


Now a Chongqing Mall is Offering Pink, Extra-large Women Only Parking Spots

Posted: 10/16/2014 10:32 am

pink parking for ladies shopping mall sexism discriminationChina’s attempts at gender equality certainly take interesting forms, such as 10 pink parking spots at a shopping mall in Chongqing.

The boldly colored pink parking spots read: “Parking for the exclusive use of Women”. The spots are wider to make parking easier, and are located closer to the mall entrance for convenience.

READ: Check Out This Pink, Extra-Wide “Women’s Only” Parking Spot in Dalian

This isn’t the first time women-only parking spaces have shown-up in a mall parking lot. The spaces also exist at a shopping mall in Dalian. Yet when accused of discrimination, the Chongqing mall manager, Yang Xiangdong, said: “The main position of this mall is to provide service to women.”

pink parking for ladies shopping mall sexism discriminationPutting gender equality aside for a moment, the women-only spots clearly make good business sense. With women comprising the majority of Chongqing’s mall traffic, Yang’s simply catering to the mall’s most important demographic.

However, as a number of astute commentators have pointed out, the ten pink parking spots are mostly occupied by luxury cars. The shopping mall isn’t just catering to women, it’s catering to rich women.

Netizens quickly chimed in with their thoughts on the special spots:

Wow. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi… these are all European brands.

How is it that these are all luxury cars?

These are all luxury cars! Chongqing women don’t have any face!

So then you’ve got a problem. Whose the best at teaching how to park a car? (referencing a recent meme involving a trade school with outlandish commercials)

Women think that this is something they don’t have to be afraid of being discriminated for.

(This is something )I can accept.

On one hand, say that men and women are equal, while on the other creating special circumstances for each of them.

pink parking for ladies shopping mall sexism discrimination


Photos: Shenzhen Police


Hong Kong Party Resents Special Book Fair Prices For Mainland Tourists

Posted: 07/22/2014 1:11 pm

hong kong book fairTensions between the Mainland and Hong Kong are bubbling to the surface once again over the price of tickets to Hong Kong’s annual Book Fair, which wraps up today.

Members of the “Hong Kong People First” party protested at the entrance to the fair on July 20 accusing organizers of discriminating against Hong Kongers with their pricing plan for admission. The group said ticket prices should be uniform.

Tickets to the Book Fair cost HK$25 for Hong Kong adult residents, HK$10 for children, and HK$10 for tourists.

A representative for the Trade Development Council said this pricing scheme has been in place for a while now, and is designed to make the fair more “international”.

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong restaurant called “Real Taste” is also being criticized for treating Mainlanders and Hong Kongers differently.

inequality beef tripe offal hong kong mainland tourist

As reporters from the Economic Daily Report discovered, inquiring about bowls of beef offal in different languages lead to being served different bowls at different prices.

When a reporter requested a bowl of beef offal using Putonghua, the reporter was given a smaller bowl that only cost HK$30. However, when another reporter requested a bowl speaking in Cantonese, the reporter was given a larger bowl that cost HK$50.

inequality beef tripe offal hong kong mainland tourist

The report notes that the differently-priced bowls are of different sizes, but that the larger “Hong Kong” bowl only has eight more pieces of offal than the “Mandarin” bowl.

When confronted with allegations of discrimination, a worker at the “Real Taste” restaurant said Putonghua speakers only want to try the dish, so they offer a smaller bowl at lower cost. Hong Kongers, rather, prefer to eat more, the worker said.

Photo: Tianya, CNTV


Hong Kong May Restrict Mainland Visitors by 20%

Posted: 05/30/2014 11:53 am

shenzhen hong kong borderMainland tourists: your days of peeing on the streets and eating in the subways of Hong Kong may be numbered. A proposal has been made to the Commission on Strategic Development to reduce the number of Mainland visitors allowed into Hong Kong by 20%, reports the SCMP.

Tensions with Mainland visitors has finally drawn the attention of Hong Kong’s lawmakers. Years of “locust” references, pee controversies, subway fights, and retail favoritism have recently culminated in Hong Kong street demonstrations that have called on the government to close the border to the north.

Protestors want the government to restrict entry to mainland visitors to Hong Kong under the independent traveler plan. There were 40 million mainland visitors to Hong Kong last year, which now accounts for a full two-thirds of all inbound tourists.

RELATED: Macau Buckles Under the Weight of Mainland Tourists,
Considering Limiting Visitors

And what do you know: it seems like demonstrations do work. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government is interested in listening to “the views of the public, businesses and the tourism sector”, an overall sentiment that has coalesced into this proposal to deny entry to eight million mainland visitors.

And to ensure that the process of governing is working properly, lawmakers disagreed. One unidentified member of the council said, “Everyone [is] opposed [to] such a drastic cut,” while Ben Chan Han-pan voiced his doubt that individual mainland visitors under the plan in question are the source of the problem.

RELATED: New App Gives Waiting Times at All Shenzhen-
Hong Kong Border Crossings

Local tourism may suffer if the proposal goes through. First to be affected will be luxury stores that employ guys with white gloves who follow you around the store until you leave.

Since Hong Kong lawmakers are debating the will of the people, we can’t wait until this contentious issue is boiled down to this: Are crude manners tolerable in order to accept mainlander money, or will an adherence to introverted regionalism in fact stagnate Hong Kong’s progress?

Photo: Welcome to China


Foreigners in Guangzhou launch event to help lesbians meet

Posted: 05/15/2013 11:00 am

Where in Guangzhou can girls who like girls meet other girls?

Last month a lesbian couple made headlines for walking down a street in Guangzhou wearing wedding dresses. In January, Shenzhen hosted the first public wedding between two women in mainland China.

Despite some progress, for lesbians, the situation on the ground remains difficult. This was hinted at when a lesbian couple was turned away from a registry office in the city in February.

Some expats might have come up with a solution.

Last month, 32-year-old English teacher Lisa and her friend Jamie were struck by the lack of venues at which lesbians can hang out. This particular discussion led to the conception of an event for lesbians which will be held at the Kiwi Lounge this coming Saturday, May 18. It will provide an opportunity for women to meet other women in a safe and fun environment.

In Guangzhou, homosexual-friendly bars are mostly geared to men. 24 year-old Huizhou native Rachel thinks the misogyny of wider society has had a rippling effect on the LGBT community.

Rachel is a lesbian and has only come out to her closest friends and brother. Her parents are still unaware.

Rachel realized as early as elementary school that she liked girls. Being in a small town, no information about homosexuality was available to her. Rachel encountered a lot of name-calling and bullying while growing up. Even her own father made fun of her. But this didn’t stop her from having her first relationship with a girl in high school.

In China, some closeted gays and lesbians pursue heterosexual relationships, and even get married. Shenzhen Daily did a feature on the subject in 2011. Some of these married homosexuals have affairs with members of their own sex. Rachel thinks this is even worse.

Lisa is a proud lesbian. But living in China, “people aren’t as understanding about the queer lifestyle.”

Lisa grew up in Toronto, Canada, a city that is known for supporting its LGBT community. But even in Toronto, bars frequented by lesbians tend not to last because, according to Lisa, lesbians do not go out as much as gay men.

Rachel’s journey into accepting herself has been a long one. Her involvement with a lesbian group called “广州女友组” or “Girlfriends Group” has helped her gain the strength that she needs.  Rachel’s girlfriend is the President of the group and they’ve been living together for more than a year. She hopes that one day their mutual love will be recognized by society.

Rachel’s parents are kind, but remain conservative. Her parents believe that “a girl should marry a boy”; something they point out to Rachel whenever they have a chance. Their attitude has created tension in their family, and as a result, Rachel has yet to come out to her parents. For now, Rachel says she prefers to be scolded by her parents because she respects them.

The Kiwi Lounge event commences this Saturday (May 18) and the organizers hope to make it a monthly event. Entrance is free. Lisa says the event doesn’t need to be flashy. “We just need a venue to which people can go and mingle with kindred spirits,” she says.

A poster for the event


Guangzhou students protest university gender quotas

Posted: 09/12/2012 1:00 pm

As Chinese students are all too familiar with, the annual national university entrance exams, known as “gaokao”, are intense. Following months of preparation, the fate of their academic futures comes down to two days of examinations. Although struggling with fierce competition from other students is difficult enough, students are now facing another obstacle that no amount of studying can overcome: university gender quotas.

A recent story published in the China Daily revealed that Chinese universities are increasingly relying on gender quotas to determine acceptance. At the Beijing Foreign Studies University for example, entry to the German language department requires an admission score of 598 for men, yet women require a substantially higher score of 639. At the prestigious Renmin University, the minimum admission score for four different language majors is currently set at 601 for men, but women require a score of 614.

This issue is not, however, unique to the north. According to a story in Radio Free Asia, the same issue is occurring in Guangzhou and, understandably, female students are none too impressed.

Guangzhou student, Ouyang Le, was denied a place at a prominent International Relations department on the basis of gender quotas, despite an exceptional score on her national exams. Rather than accept the decision, Ouyang turned to Weibo to voice her frustration. In doing so, a number of female students joined with her and staged a protest of a policy they see as nothing other than discriminatory. The women shaved their heads which, according to Ouyang, is synonymous in Cantonese with “empty-handed and impoverished”, and proceeded to read a letter addressed to the Beijing Education Ministry.

According to Ouyang, and in response, the ministry claimed that certain schools and institutes were allowed to have differing admission scores for men and women applying to “special professions” on the basis of “national interests”. The professions considered “special”, as well as the national interests in question, remain unknown.

Not everyone views the gender quotas as discriminatory. According to Yuan Zhenguo, president of the National Institute of Education Sciences, the policy “reflects the market demand” and argues that some jobs simply need men instead of women.

China has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which includes ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, education and employment. Notwithstanding, women in China obviously continue to face major barriers with regard to education and labour equality. According to Guangzhou human rights lawyer, Tang Jingling, although the law continues to evolve, further cultural change must occur: “The system itself is synonymous with power, but it can be changed through culture”, Tang said. “Only a system that concerns itself with justice will be able to erase the last traces of this culture of discrimination.”


UBC coffee shop in Shenzhen blasted for discrimination

Posted: 08/21/2012 10:52 am

UBC Coffee in Shenzhen has come under fire for apparently serving poor quality tea to those it believes are “facing economic difficulties”.

A Sina Weibo user named Shenzhen Laocui complained that he had been discriminated against when he was told that the RMB98 pot of tea he was drinking was for customers on “lower budgets”, News Express reports.

“I went to the UBC Coffee Shop in Zhuzilin with my friends and asked for a pot of ginseng and oolong tea which cost RMB98,” he wrote.  ”I felt it didn’t taste right and I told the waitress, but she said that this was how it was supposed to taste.”  The waitress then explained that Shenzhen Laocui could get a higher quality version of the same tea, but it would cost extra, as the RMB98 pots were for poorer people.

Some Weibo users called on the UBC to list which teas are for people facing “economic difficulties” right on the menu, so it’s made clear.

“I am very interested in tea and have a vast collection at home,” Shenzhen Laocui wrote. “The reason I visit the shop is to enjoy the service.  How could they say such a thing?”

While the manager of the coffee shop denied the claim, he apologized for the unpleasent atmosphere that had been caused by the disagreement.

Many Sina Weibo users criticized the coffee shop. The manager of the UBC branch wanted to apologize to Shenzhen Laocui personally, but the microblogger refused to give out his phone number.



Shenzhen tackles gender inequality

Posted: 07/2/2012 7:00 am

Despite being the home of the phrase “Women can hold up half the sky,” gender inequality remains an issue in China. Xinran’s book “The Good Women of China” sheds light on some of the abuses women have experienced in the country’s recent history. In 2007, male gangsters were found to be killing women and selling their corpses as “ghost brides” to the grieving relatives of dead men, according to The Times (paywalled).

Shenzhen, a city that prides itself on entrepreneurship and independence is now trying to take the lead in levelling the playing field.

The Shenzhen Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress released regulations to boost gender equality on June 29, according to Xinhua. “The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Gender Equality Regulations” are aimed at combating sexual harassment, domestic violence and gender discrimination.

According to a 2010 survey by the Shenzhen branch of the Women’s Federation, 33% of respondents had been victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. Victims will be given channels through which to complain, and violators will be fined.

To tackle domestic violence, Shenzhen People’s Court will open a protection program for people who claim to be victims. This could lead to the suspect receiving a restraining order, or the victim being given police protection. The Women’s Federation will help victims receive medical care and psychological therapy.

Residents can also report cases of sexual discrimination in job recruiting to the police. Employers who are found guilty of sexual discrimination will be fined from 3,000 to 30,000 yuan.

The move received support from netizens. One Sina Weibo user said he hoped the rest of the country would follow Shenzhen’s example. Another said it was very important that children who come from families where there is domestic violence should receive support.

Having said all this, there is no guarantee that gender equality will continue to improve in the city. Just last weekend, local women were involved in a competition, which included a housework test, for the chance to marry an eligible bachelor. Half the sky indeed.

Keep in Touch

What's happening this week in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou? Sign up to be notified when we launch the This Week @ Nanfang newsletter.

sign up for our newsletter

Nanfang TV