SUV on grounds of Beijings Forbidden City sparks outrage


Viral photos showing two women who were allowed to drive a luxury SUV into Beijings Forbidden City have triggered a national furore.

Vehicles have been banned from the complex since 2013 and the incident has raised questions about why the women, one of whom claimed to be related to senior officials, were permitted to bring the vehicle into the site, parts of which were once reserved for emperors and their family.

Others expressed concern that flouting the car ban risked damaging the 600-year-old World Heritage Site, which dates back to the Ming dynasty.

It also reinforced a widespread public perception that certain people are treated like royalty and granted privileges denied to ordinary Chinese people because of their family connections.

The pictures, showing the pair standing besides a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, were posted on Weibo on Friday under the name LuxiaobaoLL, with the caption: As it is closed on Monday, [we] avoided tourists and enjoyed the palace.

The post was widely circulated, attracting tens of thousands of comments.

On Friday evening, the Palace Museum, which now runs the complex, posted a statement on Weibo admitting that a vehicle had been allowed to enter the Forbidden City on Monday.

We feel deeply distressed and sincerely apologise to the public, the post read. We will stop it from happening again.

After this case, Chinese people will question whether the Palace Museum closes every Monday to serve the privileged class, said one Weibo user.

Some others made a comparison with the visit of former French president Francois Hollande in 2013, observing that he had been forced to leave his car outside and walk into the palace.

Former French president Francois Hollande had to leave his car outside the complex. 

Some outraged web users started digging into LuxiaobaoLLs online history and found that she had previously claimed to have married into the family of former senior official. 

According to a Weibo post on April 6, 2017, LuxiaobaoLL claimed that revolutionary hero He Changgong was her grandfather-in-law.

He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1922, just one year after the party was established, and played an important role in the partys development and early years.

The womans Weibo biography also said she was a flight attendant at Air China, but the company told China News Agency on Friday that she left in 2018.

The public furore also prompted elements of state media to weigh in on the case.

Xiake Dao, a Weibo account affiliated with the overseas edition of Peoples Daily, wrote on Friday that such behaviour is obviously ignoring the rules of cultural relic protection and arbitrary.

The woman, who dares to violate the rules and shows it publicly, relies on the ignorance and the fearlessness of privilege, it said.

Banyuetan, a magazine affiliated to state news agency Xinhua, said the Palace Museum needed to find out who opened the gates for the pair and check whether their SUV had caused any damage to the site.

Source: https://www.scmp.com

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