Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT
As much as society has progressed, discrimination remains a prominent issue in a diverse city such as Beijing. Recently, a video of a profanity-laden tirade against two girls on Beijing's subway went viral and touched the nerve of millions of migrants. In the video that was filmed by a passenger, a 17-year-old teenager is seen cursing at the two girls and calling them "a bunch of outsider bitches" before pushing one of them off the train carriage.
The teen later explained that the women, who are reportedly from a start-up company offering nutritious breakfast, asked him incessantly to scan their QR code as a way to support their career after he had rejected them a few times.
Indeed, with the development of market economy and the flourish of e-commerce, an increasing number of people are encouraged to set up their own companies and they often use innovative ways to acquire more customers; for instance, the QR code scanning on the subway.
There have been quite a number of occasions when young "entrepreneurs" like the two young girls do their business promotion on the subway.
"This kind of QR code scanning is no different from begging on the subway," a netizen argued.
Still, many netizens criticized the young man for his discriminative and defamatory remarks. "Are you superior to other people just because you are a Beijinger?" a netizen asked.
The young man may be justified to feel annoyed after being "harassed" by the "subway entrepreneurs," but his cursing and insults cannot be tolerated.
Contributions the so-called outsiders have made to Beijing and other Chinese metropolitan cities should never be overlooked. The migrant population in Beijing was approximately 8.2 million in 2015, around 40 percent of the city's total permanent population, according to Beijing Statistical Information Net. Without these people, Beijing may not be able to function as a metropolitan.
As a migrant, I can still remember the Spring Festival I spent in Beijing two years ago. Frankly speaking, Beijing, with most of its "outsiders" having gone home, was like an empty city during the festival. Although the traffic in those days was much better than usual, life had become much more inconvenient. I had to spend twice the time to book a car online, walk more than 20 minutes to buy breakfast and wait until the end of the holiday for someone to repair my toilet. It is the "outsiders" who offer these services and make the life of Beijingers more convenient.
Integration is a symbol of a metropolis. Tolerance of people from different backgrounds and walks of life is a basic requirement for Beijing to be an open city.
While subway "harassment" is not encouraged, respect for people, no matter where they come from, is a must in a civil society.
The author is a reporter with the Global Times. email@example.com