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18 Feb 2020 4:04
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  •   Home > News > International

    Chinese city apologises for shaming people for wearing pyjamas in public

    Chinese authorities apologise for naming and shaming people for wearing pyjamas after publishing their photos along with their surnames, partially-redacted IDs and headshots.

    Authorities in a Chinese city have apologised for naming and shaming people for wearing pyjamas in public as part of a broader crackdown on various "uncivilised behaviours".

    While it may be considered a fashion faux pas in the West, people strolling on the streets in their sleepwear in China is more common than you would think.

    People often feel they don't need to change out of their pyjamas if they are just making a short trip to the local shops or markets.

    However, the tradition was called out earlier this week by authorities in the eastern city of Suzhou when they released surveillance images of seven people who were seen wearing their sleepwear in public.

    The photos — most likely taken by CCTV cameras equipped with facial-recognition technology — were annotated with personal details, including surnames, partially-redacted IDs, and headshots.

    According to local media, the Suzhou City Management Bureau published the photos and information on their WeChat account, including those of Ms Lu — seen wearing plush pink PJs at the markets — and Mr Niu, who was spotted wearing a black and white checkered pyjama suit in a shopping centre.

    "Uncivilised behaviour refers to when people behave and act in ways that violate public order because they lack public morals," read the now-deleted post.

    "Many people think that this is a small problem and people shouldn't make a mountain out of a molehill.

    "Others believe public places are absolutely 'public', where people shouldn't be blamed or given pressure by supervision or public opinion."

    However, the authorities' decision to publish the images and personal data of the individuals sparked criticism online about the misuse of surveillance and facial-recognition technology — often used to catch and fine jaywalkers as well as wanted criminal suspects.

    "What is the [surveillance] system actually monitoring?" wrote one user on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

    "Everyday people who did not commit any crimes are being exposed publicly.

    "Why would you expose their details but protect the personal details of criminals?"

    The Suzhou authorities published their "sincere" apology on WeChat yesterday, saying they "will learn the lessons carefully and learn from each other to ensure that similar situations will not occur in the future".

    The public shaming of people wearing pyjamas on the streets is not the first time officials have cracked down on what they deem to be uncivilised behaviour.

    Last July, the eastern city of Jinan imposed a ban on the "Beijing bikini" — a habit of usually older men who roll their shirts up to expose their midriff and keep cool on hot days.

    The authorities accused the men, referred to as bang ye, of tarnishing the city's image and affecting "the feeling of the public".

    In the following month, authorities in China's national capital region — a municipal council incorporating the cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Heibei known as Jing-Jin-Ji — gave residents a chance to vote on the "civilised" and "uncivilised" behaviours that should be encouraged and punished.

    Some forms of "uncivilised behaviour" included distracting public square dancing, engaging in "feudal superstition", and donning the "Beijing bikini".

    In a separate article, also reported that Suzhou officials had previously encouraged the public to submit pictures of "uncivilised behaviour", offering to pay 10 yuan ($2.10) for successful tip-offs.

    However, the requirements were that the photos "must be clear" and "try to capture the front side of the uncivilised person", as well as include the time and location of the incident for the purpose of "future exposures".

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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