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China’s state-owned railway company has asked women not to wear makeup on trains.  Here’s how they responded

China’s state-owned railway company has asked women not to wear makeup on trains. Here’s how they responded

Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

A woman applies makeup at a railway station in Beijing on December 12, 2014.

A woman applies makeup at a railway station in Beijing on December 12, 2014.

A woman applies makeup at a railway station in Beijing on December 12, 2014.

Hong Kong (CNN) –– A promotional video for China’s state-owned railway company, which asked women to refrain from wearing makeup during train trips, sparked backlash and controversy over sexism.

On Saturday, the clip posted by China Railway was the most searched for, most read and most discussed item on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform – two months after it was originally published.

The angry reception to the position comes amid a broader feminist movement calling for greater gender equality in the country of 1.4 billion people, where men still often dominate boardrooms and top government bodies – and where feminism has in the past been censored. Often.

The post appears to have been intended to be part of a campaign by the railways to curb anti-social behavior by passengers, and follows a series of other posts that have directed people not to litter, sit on other people’s seats or talk too loudly.

The video, which was unveiled in July, shows an elegantly dressed woman filming herself preparing to apply foundation while sitting in the compartment of an intercity high-speed train.

A man in the next seat interrupts her and pats her on the shoulder, then the clip shows the man’s face covered in foundation.

“You don’t need to wear makeup, beauty,” he said to the woman, who apologized to him and helped him clean up.

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The clip, which is about a minute long, sparked controversy that does not seem to be abating.

By Saturday, the related hashtag had garnered 340 million views and 20,000 comments. Many citizens criticized the video and described it as offensive.

“Why should this issue focus on gender, with women wearing make-up, to illustrate uncivilized behaviour?” one Weibo user asked.

Others defended the right to wear makeup. “There’s nothing uncivilized about it,” said one.

Another asked: Will the next step include banning women from riding trains altogether?

CNN has reached out to China Railway for comment.

Chinese officials tried to defend the announcement, with a commentary published by state media calling on people not to “exaggerate its interpretation.”

The commentary, which was first published in the Nanfang Daily newspaper, claimed that makeup incidents like the one filmed were among the “most common” complaints received.

However, she admitted to having worse behaviors, such as being too loud or taking another passenger’s seat.

She added: “The video publisher does not ask people not to wear makeup on the train, but rather calls for a civilized form of transportation and taking into consideration the feelings of other passengers.”

In response to inquiries from the local press, workers at the China Railway Company’s customer service hotline said that wearing makeup is not prohibited on trains.