A Chinese saying goes that a poor person keeps a strip of pork skin to polish his lips after a meal in order to show others he has meat everyday. He does so because he does not want to be looked down upon.
Do not laugh. The reality is that some do judge people by the clothes they wear or the transport they use.
Guards at a hotel in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, went to extremes when they stopped a member of the provincial committee of the political consultative conference from entering the hotel, where a conference was in session, simply because he went there by bicycle rather than a limousine.
The guards refused to let him in even after he showed his card as a member of the conference. The guards eventually compromised by letting the member in through a side entrance used by the hotel's employees.
The member, who is the head of Nanjing University's environmental research institute, put forward a proposal at the conference that star hotels allow cyclists in and provide parking facilities.
It is quite common nationwide for such hotels to refuse cyclists and do not provide parking facilities for cyclists although such a practice cannot be justified under any legal code.
Apparently, it is a matter of face. With the appearance of more motor vehicles, bicycles become synonymous with poverty and low social status in the eyes of some. Bicycles that park in front of a hotel are considered an embarrassment to the management. Some even have signboards telling visitors that bicycles are not allowed.
As a matter of fact, only a few people visit hotels on bicycles, but this should not be a reason for hotels to prohibit them. This practice could constitute discrimination should a cyclist take the matter to court.
It is common knowledge that car emissions contribute to environmental pollution, and global warming. And that cars cause traffic jams. The prohibition of bicycles by star hotels is obviously against the State policy of saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The hotels are discouraging people from using environment friendly transport.
To realize energy saving and a reduction in the discharge of pollutants, we need to let every citizen know it is an obligation on their part to achieve this goal.
What is happening to cyclists at star hotels suggests we still have a long way to go.
(China Daily January 30, 2008)