China is tired of foreigners behaving badly. In the latest publicly embarrassing incident, the Russian-born principal cellist of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra was fired after a video of him behaving like a jerk on a public train went viral on the internet.
A fellow passenger managed to capture the incident, posting it on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter. The video took off, generating heated criticism. According to CNN:
Oleg Vedernikov was filmed with his bare feet placed on the headrest of a female passenger in front of him. He refused to remove them after she repeatedly objected, then taunted her and used obscenities in Chinese as she swatted at his feet with a newspaper and threw magazines and plastic bottles at him in frustration. When train staff showed up, he denied knowledge of the incident.
The orchestra, upon learning of the incident, publicly announced the change in its roster on its website Monday. As Beijing Symphony Orchestra principal conductor Tan Lihua told CNN:
“The orchestra, as a civilized envoy of high culture, requires all of its staff, including foreign performers, to comply with the country’s laws and regulations as well as traditional moral standards.”
The event comes on the heels of another widely-publicized incident. Just two weeks ago, a British tourist was arrested after videos of the man attempting to sexually assault a Chinese woman in Beijing’s Xicheng district went viral. One poster was reported to have angrily lamented, “Damn foreigner. You’d think it was 100 years ago when the foreigners came to China and did as they pleased.”
China is tightening its immigration policies as jobseekers flock to one of the world’s few robust economies; while the overall numbers are still tiny, the influx of foreigners is a situation the formerly closed nation is still getting used to. According to reports, Beijing is currently instituting a 100-day public crackdown on illegal immigrants living throughout the city – the first of its kind in China.
A Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau spokesman said that the government “will comb communities believed to have large numbers of such aliens” – such as the expatriate-heavy neighborhoods of Dongzhimen and Sanlitun – and increase the tightening of visa applications. According to the state-run China Daily, almost 600,000 foreigners lived in China last year despite the fact that only 220,000 of those immigrants had been legally employed.