In the eyes of the public transit

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/31 18:28:39

Residents differ on decorum of PDA on the subway

Kissing on a crowded subway train as if no one is watching is no longer restricted to romantic movie scenes. Though public display of affection has long been considered a taboo in Chinese society, more and more open-minded and extroverted young people are now unafraid to demonstrate their love in front of strangers.

Recently, Shanghai amateur photographer Congmingde Benbenxiong has been put under a spotlight because of his snapshots featuring couples kissing on the metro.

For four years, he has been taking photos of kissing couples on his commute, though the avid shutterbug said he immediately deletes photos if they make the couple feel uncomfortable.

Over the years he has been reported to the police by some angry subjects, but he's also got positive feedback from subjects.

Once he received a private message from a young woman thanking him for the capturing of her and her ex-boyfriend kissing, which was the only photo of them.

"It is quite fun to record the warmth and romance of the city," he said.

However, opinions vary on PDA (public displays of affection) on mass transit. While some people voice support for the couples and their expressions of affection, others say that kissing in public offends other people. From the expressions of onlookers in these photos, such smooching draws admiration as well as revulsion.

Though there is no such regulation on metro kissing, other cities have instituted them.

In 2009, Warrington Bank Quay in northwest England banned couples from kissing at its station after concerns that passionate embraces were causing delays for commuters.

In 2013, the Austrian capital, Vienna, introduced a 50 euros' fine for kissing on public transportation after a rise in the number of naked passengers and couples having sex in subway cars.

Suzhou in neighboring Jiangsu Province also banned couples from kissing and hugging on the subway.

The Global Times asked expats and local residents for their thoughts on whether the Shanghai metro is romantic, and their opinion about PDA in transit.




It's arguable whether the Shanghai metro is romantic. Photos: CFP


In the year and a half I've lived here, I've never seen kissing, but I've seen hugging and closeness. I think people will look or stare if there's too much romance maybe! I come from England, where it's quite chill and relaxed to show affection, kiss, hug and cuddle on the subway.

However we mainly have a subway in London, which is very busy and packed, so there's never really any space or time to do this! I think younger Chinese couples can be bolder in that they are cute and romantic as compared to England. But older couples are more timid.

Generally speaking, however, you're more likely to see full-on kissing in my home country, not in China! So in that sense, it's more timid in China.


I think it's rare to see people kissing on the metro; I can't remember the last time I did. Though I don't ride the metro as often anymore; I mostly bike. But I can accept people kissing on the metro. I think people can exercise common sense - if they're getting horny from what they're doing, they're probably going too far, haha.

If it's just a gesture of affection, it shouldn't bother anybody. Making out and hooking up would be inappropriate, but I would probably laugh rather than be disturbed. I was on the no-pants subway ride a couple winters ago. Seeing people kiss should be a piece of cake.


I don't think the Shanghai metro is the slightest bit romantic. Not that it matters to those people one might see immersed in each other on underground public transport. They are oblivious to anything but each other and could be anywhere, really. I'm in full favor of metro PDA. The more often, the better.

Regardless of guy-guy, guy-girl, girl-girl or whatever your preference is. Anything to alleviate the wretched boredom of a morning commute. Anecdotally, I'd say that in most Western countries this sort of display is on the decline. The heyday of the "public grope" was the late 1970s to the early 1980s, and it faded quickly in the mid-1990s. It kind of just went out of style.

My guess is that it has to do with the demographics of the latter half of the Baby Boomer generation being in constant rebellion with their postwar parents and being upset with society in general. That friction between generations has all but disappeared now that there is very little difference between kids and their parents culturally.


Indeed some online comments are quite harsh at kissing couples. However, I'd like to say it is our basic right to kiss. Having young people kissing in silence is much better than having loudmouthed seniors babbling or toddlers screaming.

I enjoy kissing with my boyfriend on the metro. One day I didn't feel quite myself. My boyfriend embraced me. The embrace soon deepened into a 15-minute French kiss. It's not a showoff. It's a feeling shared by all human beings. If you can't accept this feeling, you probably can't accept the parents coaxing kids on the metro as well.

Xiao Hui

Personally, it's embarrassing to see people kissing on the metro. If I do see people kissing, I would turn around. Personally, I cannot accept such explicit ways of showing love in public. It might seem beautiful on the big screen because of the plot, aura, the stir of emotions, but it is quite awkward to see real people kissing right before my eyes.

Bei Di

I think the Shanghai metro is romantic. I once saw a lesbian couple snogging on the metro. One of them sits on the lap of the other one who is hugging, twisting her hand on the other's waist. I have nothing against them, nor did other commuters.

I think Shanghai people are tolerant toward the display of love in public areas, and another reason is the metro is filled with people staring at phone screens, oblivious to the world around them. I think authorities should encourage people to kiss on the metro to draw these smartphone addicts back to the real world.


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