Tag Archives: Transportation

New Beijing bike-share company sued for discrimination (Translation)

The following is a partial translation of a Caixin article, 北京公租自行车涉嫌户籍歧视被起诉, published June 20 and written by Wang Qingfeng (王箐丰).

Caixin Online (Journalism Intern Wang Qingfeng) — Just this month, Beijing saw the launch of a public bike share service. On June 20, long-time Beijing lawyer Li Fangping called the hotline to register for the just opened Chaoyang District bike share service, but Li was told those with IDs from outside Beijing were not eligible for the service. Li then decided to sue the bike share provider, Goldnet Communication Technology Beijing Co., Ltd.

Beijing’s Dongcheng and Chaoyang districts reportedly opened the bike share system June 16 with 2,000 bikes at Jianguomen, Sanlitun, and 63 other locations. Those with second-generation Beijing ID cards can use a bike for free if under an hour, after which the fee is 1 RMB/hour, with the maximum daily fare set at 10 RMB for up to three days. …

The Beijing government information office’s official weibo wrote on June 18: “According to the operator, because the system is in its pilot phase, only second-generation Beijing IDs are supported. Even first-generation Beijing IDs will not work. But opening the service to all of our Beijing friends is the next step in the process.”

I personally have been a big fan of a similar service in Washington, D.C., which is also coming this summer to New York, and has already shown up in Boston and Boulder, Colo.

Beijing Traffic in 1981. And a Change on This Site.

An interesting passage and a mini-site announcement today.

First: Danwei announced they’d begin republishing old stories from former Daily Telegraph Beijing correspondent Graham Earnshaw, who held the post from 1980 to 1984.

The first article they posted is interesting mostly for Earnshaw’s author’s note:

At the time, there were almost no cars on Beijing streets except for a few buses, army jeeps and the occasional Red Flag limo. It was all bicycles. It was possible to drive very fast, and I once did Jianguomen to Beida in 15 minutes. Madness. At night camel trains of several camels, as well as donkey carts, would pass along Jianguomenwai Dajie, so deathly quiet after 9pm that it was possible to clearly hear the Peking station clock playing the East is Red on the hour every hour. Another explanation given for the ban on headlights was to prevent giving the US imperialists or Soviet revisionists guidance on any possible bombing run.

Jianguomen to Beida in 15 minutes, for those of you not familiar with Beijing traffic, is approximately twice as fast as today when the streets are empty at 3 a.m. A realistic person during the day, and not rush hour, would budget an hour to make the drive.

My mini-announcement: I’ve previously tried to keep this site specifically focused on things transpacific. We will see as I move around in the coming months, but for now, I’m going to post any East Asia or transpacific news, regardless of whether it involves other countries. This is the first.

Higher Gas Prices in China May Be Good

The Chinese government this week raised the price of gasoline almost 10 percent as shortages spread across the country. Higher gas prices may be just what Earth’s doctor ordered.

Given the recent rise in the cost of crude, the Financial Times reports, Chinese policymakers face challenges. To pay for expensive crude, retail fuel prices would naturally go up. But the government is concerned about inflation. And according to “analysts” in the FT article, concerns over public unrest would stop prices from rising more than about 10 percent further before the Olympics.

But some amount of public unrest over fuel prices may be what’s necessary to slow the rapid growth of automobile ownership and related pollution in Chinese cities. If it’s more expensive to drive, more people may choose public transport.

To SubwayMaking public transit cheaper has already had a partial effect. Last month, the number of public transit commuters surpassed car commuters for the first time since records were first kept in 2001. That landmark is largely due to the opening of the new Line 5 and a drop in ticket prices in early October. Since those changes, daily average ridership has reached 2.48 million, a 58 percent increase over the previous nine months.* Bus ridership also spiked after an earlier price drop.

The People’s Daily Online reports that 34.5 percent of Beijing commuters use public transit, versus 32 percent who use private vehicles. That leaves a third of commuters who use the most environmentally friendly methods: walk, bike, run, but don’t use a vehicle. Beijing wants to raise the proportion of public transit riders to 50 percent by 2012, but to do that, it will need to sufficiently discourage more people from joining the car-owning throngs. Perhaps more expensive fuel will do the trick.

Some environmentalists have encouraged the United States to levy heavy taxes on gasoline to encourage people to use alternative transportation and buy fuel-efficient cars. Others point out that this method puts the burden on commuters with lower incomes rather than on the individuals profiting from high emissions. At least in Beijing, however, this would not seem to be the case. Few if any low-income workers here own cars. Higher gas prices, if they can serve as an incentive not to pollute, will impact the people who have the luxury of choice. And with some luck, the city’s massive subway expansion projects will provide the capacity necessary to make that choice attractive.

* That statistic may be misleading. The previous nine months are warmer months, and the coming three will be cold. Some amount of this “increase” may be natural seasonal shift as people opt for a bus over a bike. At this time I only have this information from the People’s Daily Online article.

Links: Net Filtering, Uncertain Green Beijing, and U.S.–China Business

I’ve been busy recently in Beijing and watching a lot of good stories go right by. You’ll forgive a Colorado native for using a baseball analogy: It’s time to make sure I don’t strike out looking. Here’s a quick summary of transpacific pitches I wish I’d had time to swing at.

    Greener Beijing?

  • Will Beijing’s air be ready for the Olympics? The Worldwatch Institute has a good summary of what’s being done, who’s doing it, and what the challenges are, from Yongfeng Feng, a journalist for China Guangming Daily.
  • Alex Pasternack picks up on a Christian Science Monitor story on the emergence of short-term bike rental service in Beijing. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned here is that folding bikes, trendy here despite being a pain to ride, have been banned on the subway recently to prevent overcrowding. Razor scooter, anyone?
    Internet Filtering and Reactions

  • Blogspot is blocked, again. It came back online along with Flickr, which I have just noticed is also blocked. Firefox users in the P.R.C. can use “Access Flickr!” to get those photo feeds back working.
  • The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted the Global Online Freedom Act (H.R. 275) out of committee. The law, according to Forbes.com, would “penalize U.S. companies up to $2 million if they cooperate with the technological surveillance of political dissidents or share technology and information used for ‘Internet-restricting’ purposes.”
  • Rebecca MacKinnon has smart commentary as usual on this issue. Go read what she writes, but here’s her bottom line:

    GOFA’s intentions are honorable in many ways. I think many of the people who support it certainly have honorable intentions. I know and respect many of them, despite having had some pretty heated arguments with some members of the human rights groups who say they support it for strategic reasons. But from where I sit in Hong Kong, this proposed legislation comes off as something that my Chinese friends who hate censorship and surveillance would find arrogant, patronizing, and interventionist, with the likely result that it would kill U.S. tech companies’ ability to do business in China in the first place – a result which by the way they don’t think would enhance their freedom.

  • Also from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I haven’t mentioned yet that Chairman Tom Lantos is calling Yahoo’s Jerry Yang back to Congress under suspicion of misleading Congress in previous testimony. Go check with MacKinnon on this, too. She’s been on the story since a civil society group published a document that contradicted Yahoo’s statement that they did not know the nature of the investigation when they turned over information on reporter Shi Tao to Chinese authorities.
  • At Wired, a writer with firsthand experience being monitored on a reporting trip in China declares that the “Great Firewall” is futile. Maybe, but I had to enable Tor to get the full article to load. The article is a good read though for those interested in Oliver August’s experiences talking to Chinese dissidents.
  • Wikipedia‘s Chinese-language service was crippled by the mainland’s block, reports Eva Woo at BusinessWeek.com.
    In other news…

  • From the Tokyo Auto Show, Michael J. Dunne who works on China for J.D. Power and Associates, writing in the Detroit News, notes that the talk is about China, not Japan. My favorite is the writer’s casual contextual note about when his cohort got interested in China: “Fascination with the China market started when the Middle Kingdom first challenged Japan for sales leadership. Two years ago, Chinese bought 5.3 million vehicles, just shy of the 5.7 million cars and trucks sold in Japan.”
  • U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said she sees protectionism in both countries as a threat to U.S.–China trade.
  • Relatedly, Andy Scott at China Briefing Blog ventures a coinage for China’s WTO practices: “Compliance With Chinese Characteristics.”
  • It’s not just the United States hosting the Dalai Lama. Japan’s doing it too.
  • The questionably hyphenated Trans-Pacific Express will for the first time link the China and the United States with an undersea telecommunications cable.

Language Barriers at Ground Control (Video)

Jason Li Virtual China posts this YouTube clip from a news program exploring the problem of Chinese pilots having limited English abilities when they land in English-language ports. It seems to me that the airline ought to put someone in the cockpit with a reasonable comprehension of the native language of airport where they land, and since some air traffic and ground control messages could be pretty urgent, it’d be great if that was the pilot. Still, I wonder what language U.S. pilots are speaking when they land in Beijing.

UPDATE: This appears to be a reproduction of this English-language CNN clip.

Li, who from what I can tell seems to be based in the United States, also received an interesting message from someone in China:

“你能上我们这边的网站吗?”
“Can you access my internet [from there]?”