Citizens in China are failing to “embrace” (no pun intended) a free hug campaign that began in Australia earlier this year. The campaign is a simple one where someone stands in a public place with a sign that reads ‘Free Hugs’ and gives a hug to anyone who passes by that wishes one. The campaign in Australia originally met with some staunch criticism that had to be defeated with a petition to let the ‘free hug’ campaign continue and now its meeting even worse obstacles in China.

Over the weekend the campaign opened up in the cities of Beijing, Changsha and Xian. Reports on how it went are varied at best with Chinese police moving in and detaining the ‘huggers’ for questioning about the bizarre Western activities before allowing them to continue. One girl who held a sign in the city of Changsha said “Though some people refused (to be hugged), I hugged 20 people in one minute,” while in Xian the Xinhua news agency quoted a local newspaper by saying “Passers-by showed interest and curiosity, stopped and asked, but most of them walked away after hearing the explanation.”

“Embracing is a foreign tradition. Chinese are not accustomed to this,” said a Xian citizen named Li.

Chinese fail to embrace hugs from strangers (Reuters)

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