Train Riders in China Must Identify Themselves

December 27, 2011 10:50 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 2:55 pm
People in Beijing line up to buy tickets at a train station. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s Ministry of Railways plans to make everyone who buys a train ticket use their names and present their ID cards. Authorities say the measure is meant to ease the difficulty of buying tickets and curb scalping. But many Chinese are convinced that it’s another means for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to strengthen its monitoring of the populace and a more sophisticated means of suppressing dissent.

The policy also comes on the heels of a Dec. 16 announcement of a real-name registration system for Sina Weibo, China’s largest microblog. Existing users are required to re-register with their real names and personal information within three months.

The system will begin on the first day of next year, according to an announcement last week. 

Ministry of Railways says the system will require all passengers in China to buy tickets with their own ID cards and enter the platform and train with both the tickets and their ID cards. 

“The system implemented by the Ministry of Railways is not for the interest of the public, but to meet the authorities’ demand to monitor the people,” said Mr. Zong from Guangzhou City, in a telephone interview.

Most people are not aware of the Party’s designs for acquiring information on the population, according to Ms. Tang, from Sichuan Province. “Curbing ticket scalping is just an excuse,” she said. 

Under the system, passengers have to register online with their ID cards to buy tickets. Ms. Tang added: “Through the Internet it will be easy for the police to control the whereabouts of people, especially those who are monitored.” 

Many Falun Gong practitioners, for example, are kidnapped and persecuted by the police when they stay in hotels because they use ID cards to check in, alerting the police to their presence, she said.

With the new move, people in the rights-defense community will not be able to travel by train anonymously. 

“If the system was really for striking criminals, we’d have nothing to say,” said petitioner Ma Yalian from Shanghai, in an interview with Radio Free Asia. “However, many petitioners go to Beijing. If they use their real names to register, they will be arrested on the way.”

Police will be able to intercept them before they even reach the train platform, she said.

The same drive to find who is on the train is behind the wish to find out who’s using the Sina Weibo microblogging service, dissidents say.

“Weibo is a great threat to the CCP,” says Pu Fei, of China Tianwang Human Rights Service, in an interview with New Tang Dynasty television. He puts his criticism of the authorities in stark terms.

“Many pro-democracy activists publish their words there. The CCP is terrified of such freedom of speech. So the aim of implementing the real-name registration on Weibo is to meet their supervisors’ psychology to control people, to fulfill their desire for controlling people.”

Read the original Chinese article.

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