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Shenzhen Isn’t Lining Up to Become a World Class City

Posted: 11/22/2014 4:55 pm

Those who commute using the Shenzhen Metro have heard them so often that they could probably recite them all from memory: the succinct requests for orderliness. “Disembarking precedes embarking” and “please hold the handrail and stand on the right when using the escalator.” But how often do people actually follow these rules?

On a recent Friday afternoon between one and two o’clock (observations were purposely made during non-peak hours) at Grand Theatre station in Luohu District, approximately 80 percent of passengers boarding trains did not wait for disembarking passengers, instead surging ahead at the same time as passengers tried to exit the train. People bumped into each other, pushed and shoved and did whatever it took – but with people moving in both directions in a small space at the same time, it seems like there was no way to proceed that didn’t involve these types of behavior.

“People don’t want to wait for others. They just want to worry about themselves,” Lin said. “When the train comes they just go. They do not think about the message telling them to wait.”

This is common in Shenzhen and in many other parts of China, and not just on the metro. On buses, elevators, escalators and more, people often push and shove, board before people can exit, and generally cause a ruckus despite having ample time to proceed in an orderly fashion.

On that same Friday afternoon at around four o’clock at Happiness Mansion apartment complex in Luohu District, eight out of ten times an elevator arrived at the ground floor, people tried to enter before people had exited. Some who were having a hard time exiting the elevator even recited part of that familiar phrase from the Metro system: ‘前下’ or ‘disembarking comes first’.

On escalators the rule is observed somewhat more closely. On a Thursday afternoon at Jingtian station between noon and one o’clock, approximately 20 percent of people stood on the left even when there was ample space on the right.

When asked about this phenomenon, a station staff member surnamed Sun said people don’t pay attention to the rules during rush hour. He also said operators adjust the amount of time the doors stay open to accommodate for the amount of passengers using the train at any given time. “When there are more people trying to board the train, the doors stay open for longer,” Tan said.

In other words, there is no need to rush into the train because passengers are not in danger of being trapped in the door or left behind as long as they are in line by the time the train arrives and follow the proper procedures.

It is more difficult, however, for station managers to know whether a person inside a train who wants to get off is unable to reach the exit due to people entering first – hence the rule.

‘Let ‘em out!’

Some might assume this is just the way things work in large cities. However, according to people surveyed in New York City, London and Sydney, these rules are followed, and even enforced by the commuters themselves.

Lauren Kraft, an American who has been in Sydney for almost one year, said “almost everyone is awesome” at standing to the right on escalators and letting people moving quickly pass.

Maya Rudolph, who lives in Beijing but lived in New York City for six years, said people usually follow the rule ‘disembarking precedes embarking’, with people often heard yelling the catchphrase “Let ‘em out” when people don’t follow the rules. And although the NYC subway system doesn’t have a lot of escalators, “it’s generally understood that the right side is for standing and left is for passing,” she said.

Charlotte Linton, a longtime Shenzhen expatriate who lived in London for four years and grew up on its outskirts, said people follow the disembarking precedes embarking rule “pretty much always.” As far as the escalator rule, people “always” follow it because “many people in London are in a hurry and they will not take kindly to people blocking the left side of the escalators and slowing them down.” She could not recall a single situation in which people were trying to exit and enter a train simultaneously.

Shenzhen isn’t alone in regards to lack of respect for Metro etiquette; Moscow reportedly has some issues as well. People generally stand on the right and walk on the left of escalators, according to Kristina Bison, an American who lived in Moscow for several years. However, she said things can be a bit of a “free for all” when the doors open to the Metro there during rush hour.

During rush hour, “after a while you kind of forget all the manners and etiquette we were all taught as kids and you…push and shove until you get what you want,” she said. “If you don’t push and shove your way out when that happens, you will never be able to get off the train.”

With Metro workers lacking the authority to punish people for breaking the rules, the problem has become endemic.

“Sometimes people don’t listen to me. All we can do is advise them. We cannot stop them with force. People shouldn’t be in a rush to enter the subway. They should line up. A minority of people are not aware of this rule,” said Huang Zili, team leader of security guards at Grand Theatre Station.

As Shenzhen pushes to become an international city, its leaders might want to consider trying to enforce the small things that make for a more pleasant experience in the city.


University Course Teaches Chinese Women How To Be Virtuous and Elegant

Posted: 09/23/2014 9:08 am

While international relations, law, and medicine remain popular university subjects, some female students in Wuhan in central China are pursuing another path: how to become a desirable lady based on all the old virtues written in China’s ancient poems and lyrical rhymes.

Technically speaking, the students enrolled in the lady training class at Wuhan Embroidery Colleage are undergoing their equivalent of military training, local Chinese newspaper Chutian Jinbao reported on September 22.

But in this case, the students have traded their military uniforms for scissors, needles, and calligraphy brushes as they learn traditional Chinese paper-cutting, embroidery, calligraphy, make-up, body posture, literary classics, proper etiquette and even weaving techniques, according to the school.

For those who suspect this is a just a tea party or home economics class, the school apparently takes it all very seriously and said the students need to score at least 211 points in order to pass.

College dean Li Shizong says the purpose of the training is trying to teach students how to become virtuous and elegant ladies. “While students are pursuing the latest fashion trends, they shouldn’t forget about traditional virtues. A lady with all the traditional virtues can also add up to their impression scores,” the dean said.

The program started in 2009 and is open to all female students in the college, he said. By September this year, more than 200 students had enrolled.

But back in 2009 when the program first made headlines in China, critics were already speculating on what would happen to these girls. According to a saying from the Shi Jing (The Book of Poetry) written around 500 AD, “a fair and graceful lady is a good catch for a gentleman”.

But critics worry the ladies have traded their noble gentlemen for officials and businessmen with large wallets as money and power become the new virtues of today’s society.

* 窈窕淑女,君子好逑 in Chinese

Photos: Chutian Jinbao


MTR Staff Member Chastised for Rebuking Urinating Child

Posted: 09/22/2014 8:06 am

Every MTR station is equipped with at least one toilet, a fact that is often ignored by parents who continue to allow their children to relieve themselves anywhere in the station except the toilet.

On September 16, a sanitary worker at Nanchan Temple station in Wuxi City, identified as Ms Wang, had a very bad day. After a failed attempt to stop a male passenger from allowing his son to relieve himself on the subway station’s platform, Wang found herself verbally abused by the male passenger for doing her job, reported Chinese newspaper Modern Express.

The man (standing in the middle) is scolding MTR employee.

According to Wang, the male passenger yelled at her, “What does a sanitary worker do? Isn’t your job sweeping and cleaning the floor? If children defecate or pee here, you have to clean it up. Let alone children, even if I pee here, you have to do the same”. He then spat on the floor, in front of Wang, and waited for her to clean it up.

Another MTR employee, Ms Li, witnessed the scene and, when she approached, the man yelled at her as well. A female passenger travelling with the man went even further, grabbing Li by her collar and slapping her twice in the face, the report said.

A woman travelling with the male passenger was beating Ms Li, shown on CCTV footage.

The entire dispute was recorded by cameras inside the MTR station, and local police are investigating the incident.

These days, public urination and/or defecation is a popular subject after reports of the act(s) were spotted in another MTR stationa restaurant, an airplane, and a Hong Kong MTR station.

Photos: Wuxi MTR footage screenshots 


Air rage reaching all new levels in China, gate agent beaten in Guangzhou

Posted: 03/7/2013 8:47 am

Airplane passengers are once again in the spotlight thanks to a delay which led to an attack on airline staff in Guangzhou.

Few details are known so far about the incident which took place on February 20, towards the tail end of the Chinese New Year.

Two passengers were angry over the late arrival of a China Southern Airlines flight from Melbourne, Australia, and took out their anger on a gate agent, who they beat to the ground.

As you can see in the picture below, he is cradled, covering his face. A few barriers can be seen knocked down.

All in all, it looks like a mess.
This incident is pretty similar to the actions of Yan Linkun, the now suspended CPPCC committee member and deputy chairman of state-owned Yunnan Mining Corporation, who was caught on CCTV smashing the place up after he missed his flight.

We’ve now got a video with sound to hear his unfortunate episode.

He went berserk at one of the gates at Kunming Airport for missing his flight, not once, but twice. All the damage, thankfully, was to inanimate objects rather than airline staff who bravely watched on.

Here’s a series of notable passenger incidents in February as Adam Minter points out:

– Feb. 6, Kunming Changshui International Airport: In a video that has gone viral internationally, Yan Linkun, a mining executive and county-level Communist Party official, smashes two boarding gate computers and attempts to send the frame of a sign through the glass door standing between him and the second flight that he and his family have missed.

– Feb. 14, Beijing Capital International Airport: Six business-class passengers traveling together refuse to fasten their seat belts or turn off their phones prior to takeoff, then become abusive toward the flight attendants and captain, forcing a return to the gate and a substantial flight delay.

– Feb. 22, Air France Flight 132, somewhere between Paris and Wuhan: Two men, reportedly drunk, swipe between seven and 16 bottles of wine (accounts vary) from a drink cart. When confronted, they become so belligerent that the pilot has to intervene. They still manage to threaten the life of a passenger whom they judge as particularly nosy.

This is just the tip of the iceberg but I think we all need a bit of travelling etiquette.

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