2020-01-19 07:55:07

The Palace Museum has apologized after photos surfaced online of two women posing with a Mercedes vehicle parked on the grounds of the Forbidden City, Beijing’s iconic, centuries-old tourist site.

In a statement Friday, the Palace Museum — which is located within the Forbidden City — said it was “deeply distressed,” “sincerely apologizes to the public,” and “will strengthen management to prevent such cases in the future.”

In a now-deleted post on microblogging platform Weibo that included the photos, one of the women, Gao Lu, said the incident had taken place Monday, when the Forbidden City was closed for maintenance. The post quickly went viral: A related hashtag had been viewed over 1 billion times by Sunday afternoon, with many criticizing rich elites who believe they are entitled to special treatment.

In an interview with The Beijing News, a man claiming to be the owner of the vehicle said Gao had been invited to attend an event at the tourist site.

The Forbidden City has banned vehicles from entering its grounds since 2013. However, amid the online furor over Gao’s photos, numerous reports emerged of other people driving their vehicles into the city in recent years. (Image: From @露小宝LL on Weibo)