That was a tweet that shouldn’t have been sent.
On 10 November 2013, the official Beijing Subway Weibo account used inflammatory — some would even say discriminatory — language against those who flooded a Line 10 train with highly disturbing flyers. Irritated by their presence and, in particular, the mess they left in the Line 10 train, the official Weibo account dubbed them as “locusts” — the same language used in Hong Kong a year back that sparked tensions between the special administrative region and the mainland.
Despite refusing media interviews, the debate refused to go away — the message was retweeted 4,277 times, with 3,020 comments. Some viewed the expression as discriminatory. The message was eventually deleted.
The unauthorised distribution — in fact, showering — of flyers has exacted a heavy toll from the Beijing Subway. Between January 2013 and July 2013, there were records of 415 “flyer spammers”, leaving a trail of 683,000+ flyers and litter upwards of 646 kilogrammes in their wake.
Still, some criticised the subway operators for not doing anything, even though newer trains have video cameras installed. They instead point to a lack of competence on the side of the subway company.