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Daily DripSociety

Blogger in Wheelchair Documents Difficulties of Life in Shanghai

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On November 26, Shanghai-based blogger Zhao Hongcheng posted a video documenting her worst experiences of 2021 as a person who uses a wheelchair. The video soon went viral on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, accumulating more than 4.2 million views at the time of writing.

“After you watch this video, you might understand better why people with disabilities don’t go out that much,” wrote the blogger as a caption for her video. “I made this video not just to complain. Instead, I hope to raise awareness so we can make more progress in the future.”

In the video, Zhao visits Tsutaya Books, the Monet & Impressionist Masterpieces exhibit, and a stand-up comedy show at ET Space.

While at Tsutaya Books in Shanghai, a Japanese bookstore that promotes a sophisticated lifestyle, she is told she cannot bring her wheelchair into the store.

“We were worried that she might hit something on the first floor. It’s for her own safety,” the store director explains, though the video later shows the first floor is spacious enough for people to walk around freely.

bookstore

The first floor of Tsutaya Books. Screengrab via Weibo

Her visit to the Monet & Impressionist Masterpieces exhibit held at a historical building in Shanghai doesn’t go smoothly, either, to say the least.

The blogger, who visits on the weekend, is told she cannot enter the exhibition because there are too many people. Shocked, her companion Xie Lipeng checks with the staff, only to be told that “There are too many people at the exhibit, and having a person who uses a wheelchair here will affect others’ experiences.” Yikes.

Ironically, the exhibit was selling discounted tickets to people with disabilities.

Monet & Impressionist Masterpieces exhibit

Blogger Zhao Hongcheng at the Monet & Impressionist Masterpieces exhibit. Screengrab via Weibo

The final story she shares is of a visit to ET Space for a stand-up comedy show. While at the venue, Zhao is told that if she wants to use the restroom, she will have to go with someone to ensure she doesn’t fall.

What’s worse, the theater does not have an elevator, meaning that to get to the second floor, someone would have to carry her. The staff, however, note that the venue’s policy prohibits them from helping because they could be held responsible if something happens.

ET Space

The blogger is carried to the second floor of ET Space by her companion. Screengrab via Weibo

While the blogger eventually accesses the venue in all three incidents, the video still highlights that people with disabilities have to navigate inaccessible venues and discriminatory policies in Shanghai.

Chinese netizens responded angrily to the video, with many criticizing the policies and empathizing with the blogger.

“In China, no matter how developed the cities are, there aren’t a lot of people with disabilities going out,” one netizen commented under the video, “I think these [the stories in the video] are probably the reason why.”

Another echoed, “I hope more people can see this video. We focus so much on infrastructure development, and we need to make sure we can better accommodate marginalized communities.”

In response to Zhao’s video, other people with disabilities also shared their frustrating experiences in China.

“As someone who uses a crutch, I was told I couldn’t use my crutch inside the Ningbo Museum of Art because it would damage the floor,” wrote one netizen.

At the end of her video, Zhao tells viewers, “To be honest, when I was not allowed to go into certain places, I also doubted myself sometimes. Why did I bother to come? But I was only trying to meet a friend, go on a date, visit beautiful places, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

And she’s right — there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Cover image: screengrab via Weibo

Kayla He
    Born and raised in China, Kayla received her BA in Communications and Public Service from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works as a staff writer at RADII and is passionate about telling stories related to social issues women's empowerment. You can find her exploring coffee shops in Shanghai in her free time or rushing for Duffy and Friends plush toys at Shanghai Disneyland.
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