Video showing abuse of migrant worker in Beijing highlights ongoing discrimination

2021.06.11

Migrant workers from other provinces in China continue to face discrimination in the capital Beijing, after a recent video showing a resident abusing a woman on the bus.

Chinese netizens shared a video online of an older woman yelling insults at a younger woman on a bus. “You stinky foreign province people, coming to Beijing to steal our food!” she said. “I look down on you out-of-towners, all substandard humans!” The 63-year-old woman has since been detained for the incident.

The captured incident allegedly occurred on May 27. The older woman was sitting down as she continuously hurled abuse at the younger passenger, until another passenger stepped in and said: “This has nothing to do with whether someone is from Beijing or outside of the city. Aren’t you contradicting yourself?”

The woman ignored bystanders and said: “People from other provinces are second class. They are sub-par humans. This is Beijing, my hukou is within the second ring, this is Beijing!”

According to the witness who recorded the outburst, the bus was quite empty and there were many available seats. But as soon as the woman stepped onto the bus, she insisted that she was disabled and demanded the other passenger to give up her seat. But even when she gave up her seat, the older woman continued to verbally abuse her.

A Beijing transport official said the woman did not cause anyone bodily harm nor the loss of property, so they could only reason with her based on moral grounds. Beijing police announced on Tuesday that the woman, who took bus 856 at 8 a.m., had affected public harmony for her discriminatory speech, and had been detained.

The incident has highlighted the continued discrimination faced by throngs of poor working migrants, after the Chinese government initiated a controversial “purge of the poor” from parts of Beijing four years ago.

A building full of subdivided flats in Daxing district caught fire in November 2017, causing the deaths of 19 people. The tragedy shocked the community, with most of the dead being migrant workers from other provinces. It was later revealed that many workers lived in substandard spaces, like factories and storage spaces, which were often fire hazards.

The government chose to chase out these migrants as winter approached — a policy which ignited the wrath of the people. Despite opposition to the policy, migrants arriving to work in the capital continue to face discrimination and abuse.

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