Netizens slam ‘inequality’ after reports of cops helping foreigners who have lost things

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/4 18:58:39

A foreigner goes through customs at Qingdao International Airport in East China's Shandong Province on May 15 2014. Photo: IC

 Experts said it is a good idea for police to give foreigners in China a degree of "preferential treatment" when they lose things, after netizens complained Chinese police are more willing to help foreigners than locals.

"The recording pen is like my eyes and ears, thank you Chinese police," Stephen from the Netherlands said to express his hearty gratitude to police in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, who helped him get his lost pen back only three days after he lost it.

Stephen, who was on vacation in China, lost his recording pen in a car on April 15. He felt he had to report the loss to Kunming police because his whole six-country vacation experience was recorded on it, local news site reported.

In order to help Stephen find his precious pen and its cargo of memories, police watched surveillance video to examine more than 60,000 cars and finally found the vehicle Stephen had been in, said, adding that police contacted its driver and got Stephen his pen back.

Stephen is not the only foreigner who has had luck with Chinese police after losing something.

In 2012, police in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province went through five tons of stinking rubbish to find the lost passport of a Russian businessman, local news site reported.

Many Chinese netizens who read about Stephen's case, however, didn't share his joy and gratitude toward Chinese police, instead complaining officers are more willing to help foreigners than natives.

"I lost my 6,000 yuan ($870) phone on the bus and called the police. All he said was that I should wait, so I waited for two years, nothing," said Sina Weibo user yuechuyi.

"Moreover, police in other countries do not treat Chinese tourists with the same enthusiasm," claimed user dujiaoxian. 

A Mexican citizen who has lived in Shanghai for three years told the Global Times that Chinese police have proved helpful to him and other foreign residents of the city. "If you provide many details they will try to help... and if the police and the foreigner can understand each other, things will be even better," he commented.

He said sometimes his Chinese girlfriend will ask him to contact the police even if she was the one who lost something, adding that "the police will work more effectively because of my foreign face."

Some people have spotted a business opportunity in this "unequal treatment." Residents of both Beijing and East China's Anhui Province told the Global Times that they have seen adverts in their cities saying that anyone who has lost something can pay from 100 to 200 yuan to get a foreigner to report the case.

No tolerance

It is necessary for Chinese police to prioritize foreigners in certain instances, Wu Boxin, a professor from the Chinese People's Public Security University, told the Global Times Wednesday.

If a foreigner's interests are damaged in China it will have a huge impact, said Wu, adding that both countries' governments will get involved if things become extreme.

In February, China's embassy in Vietnam urged the Vietnamese government to investigate alleged beating of a Chinese netizen by Vietnamese border guards after he refused to "tip" the officials.

The embassy asked the government to punish any of its employees that have broken the law, apologize and compensate the victim.

Wu also said that foreigners in China might require extra help as they are minorities. "Because of language and cultural barriers, their lives might be much more difficult if they lost things here," Wu noted.

Moreover, if foreigners have a bad experience in China, they will tell others in their country, which could damage China's national prestige, said Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology.

However, Wu noted that giving foreigners extra help in some small cases does not mean the police are putting them above Chinese citizens. "Like us, foreigners still have to follow the normal procedures and we will not tolerate those who break the law," he said.

Get more efficient

Hu added that these netizens' complaints show that people want the police to become more efficient.

The main complaint of the netizens was that they never received a response from police after reporting minor cases, such as lost items or scams involving small amounts of money.

A resident of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality surnamed Zhou, was tricked when trying to buy flight tickets online and lost around 2,000 yuan. Police simply told her to go home and wait after she reported the website that scammed her. However, one week later the website was still online.

 "Legal departments have been trying to improve their work in recent years. However, they still face a lot of challenges due to a shortage of manpower and resources," said Wu.

He added that police in China find it difficult to meet everyone's needs as there are so many people to look after and so many incidents every day, but police react very swiftly to emergencies and accidents that cause sensation.

Newspaper headline: The finder force

Posted in: SOCIETY

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