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China’s High-Speed Railway: Netizens Praise Excellent Service

The personal account of one high-speed railway passenger went viral this week. His view: China’s high-speed railway staff should be praised more, as their service has become better than that of developed countries.

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The personal account of one high-speed railway passenger went viral this week. His view: China’s high-speed railway staff should be praised more, as their service has become better than that of “developed countries”.

One passenger posted his experiences with China’s high-speed railway on Sina Weibo this week, praising the good service of its station and train staff. The story became one of the top trending Weibo posts of the day, with many netizens agreeing with the man that China’s train services are high standing.

See the translation below for the full account of the man’s story.

[box] “A few days ago I went on a business trip to Tianjin. Halfway there, at the Jinan stop, I stepped out to stretch my legs. I may have been too distracted, because I did not even hear the whistle blow. As a result, I saw the train slowly picking up speed right beside me. It took me five seconds to realise that it was actually my train that was leaving. Inside was my luggage, my computer, my mobile, and my wallet.

I stood there for a bit before I became clear-headed: I was left at the train platform! I arrived at the service desk somewhat depressed, and explained my predicament to the staff. While I was telling my story, I felt the young woman behind the service desk scrutinising me with her eyes.  She probably thought: this traveler looks quite normal, how could he be so stupid?

After she had heard my explanation, she asked me to wait and started to get in touch with the conductor of the train by calling internal inquiries. After she had traced down the number of the train manager, she explained the situation and handed me the phone. After they asked for my details, seat number and luggage, they told me they would take care of my things and hand them over to the staff at Beijing Station. Although I was going to Tianjin, the final stop of the train was Beijing.

I wanted to thank the staff after hanging up the phone. She told me to wait a bit, and again, helped me to get in touch with a conductor of the regular train service. Right then, a middle-aged woman came up to the service desk. She was crying so badly that she could barely speak. The staff asked her what the problem was, but not much came out. After a little while, when the woman had calmed down, we found out that her situation was quite simple: she had missed her train. According to what she told, she had already changed her train reservation twice, and missed it both times. The main reason was that it was her first time taking a high speed train, and she could not find the boarding gate.

The service staff seemed to relax after hearing the story. I understood why – when she first saw the woman crying like that, she probably thought there was something worse than just missing a train. This was easy to handle. The staff made another phone call and then looked at me, saying: “Hey mister, can I ask you for a favour?” I said: “I know, I can bring this lady to her train.” She said: “It won’t be such a hassle. You are on the same train, you just help her to your train.” That sounded even more easier.

As I was walking with the lady to the train, she kept repeating to herself: “I feel so useless, that is why I cried.” “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” I said: “You only couldn’t find the train’s boarding gate, that’s all. Look at me, I frequently travel, and I suddenly found myself alone on a platform, having let the train go without me. Compared to you, I am the one who’s muddle-headed.” The woman smiled.

As we arrived at the train, the woman and I found the train manager. She already knew about the phonecall from the service desk, and understood our situation. I specifically explained that although my original destination was Tianjin, I needed to go to Beijing to pick up my luggage, and that if needed to, I would pay extra for my ticket. The conductor was a young woman, under the age of 28. She listened and wondered: “So why is your luggage not taken to Tianjin?” “This is what the conductor told me.” “Wait a bit,” she told me: “I will check for you.”

Then, after another set of procedures (inquiring the number, contacting the conductor) she told me: “Your luggage will be send directly to Tianjin, and the station staff will hand it over to you there.” She also comforted the woman, and told her not to worry at China’s high-speed rail station, where she could always just look for some staff to help out. She then advised us to sit in the dining car.

When we were nearing Tianjin, the conductor came up to me and said: “I’ll help you when getting off the train, to avoid you not being able to find any staff.” As we arrived and got off, a young man was waiting for us with my computer bag in one hand, and my funny thermos flask in the other.

The whole event was so warm. Every staff member had their own duty, and went beyond their responsibility. The conductor of the later train I took had no reason to reach out to me like that. She only had to ensure that I could go on and could get off the train. But she also considered that it would be inconvenient for me to go to Beijing, and she helped me to arrange it. It was very considerate service.

When I told my friend of my experiences afterwards, he told me to write it down. It’s good to praise our high speed railway staff; their service exceeds normal service and is at a high level. It is even better than that of developed countries. It’s very good. I have also experienced this kind of service on foreign airlines. I had missed my flight and got good service. The core value: trying to solve the passenger’s problems is no trouble.

This time, there was unexpected consideration and warmth, getting this kind of service in China for the first time.

[/box]

The story has been shared over 8700 times on Weibo.

For one netizen, the story is familiar: “I am one of those people who is sleeping when getting on the train, and peeing when getting off the train. One time I went from Guangdong to Shilong, and I only woke up in Pingchang. As a result… a beautiful train manager reassuringly smiled at me, and made some phonecalls to arrange a train back. It gave me warm feeling reading this story. Thank you, China!”

“This reminds me of my neighbours,” one other commenter says: “The whole family went to the station to bring their daughter, who was going to study in Changsha, to the train. As the train departed, the whole family was on the train, and their daughter was still on the platform.”

China has opened its first high-speed railways (HSR) in October 2003, and has now built 10,000 miles (16093 km) of high-speed tracks within its borders (NBC). With HSR, it is now possible to travel the 819 miles (1318 km) from Beijing to Shanghai in 5 hours; a train journey that would have cost at least eight to ten hours only a couple of years ago.

By Manya Koetse

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China and Covid19

Fangcang Forever: China’s Temporary Covid19 Makeshift Hospitals To Become Permanent

China’s temporary ‘Fangcang’ shelter hospitals are here to stay.

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A new term has been added to China’s pandemic lexicon today: Permanent Fangcang Hospital. Although China’s ‘Fangcang’ shelter hospitals are, by definition, temporary, these healthcare facilities to isolate and treat Covid patients are now becoming a permanent feature of China’s Zero-Covid approach.

Over the past few days, Chinese authorities have emphasized the need for China’s bigger cities to build or renovate existing makeshift Covid hospitals, and turn them into permanent sites.

So-called ‘Fangcang hospitals’ (方舱医院, square cabin hospitals) are large, temporary makeshift shelter hospitals to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients. Fangcang shelter hospitals were first established in China during the Wuhan outbreak as a countermeasure to stop the spread of the virus.

January 5 2022, a Fangcang or Isolation Point with over 1000 separate isolations rooms is constructed in Baqiao District of Xi’an (Image via Renmin Shijue).

They have since become an important part of China’s management of the pandemic and the country’s Zero-Covid policy as a place to isolate and treat people who have tested positive for Covid-19, both asymptomatic and mild-to-moderate symptomatic cases. In this way, the Fangcang hospitals alleviate the pressure on (designated) hospitals, so that they have more beds for patients with serious or severe symptoms.

On May 5th, Chinese state media reported about an important top leadership meeting regarding China’s Covid-19 situation. In this meeting, the Politburo Standing Committee stressed that China would “unswervingly adhere to the general Zero-Covid policy” and that victory over the virus would come with persistence. At the meeting, chaired by Xi Jinping, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee also declared that China would fight against any words or acts that “distort, doubt, or deny” the country’s dynamic Zero-Covid policy.

Life inside one of Shanghai’s Fangcang, photo via UDN.com.

Following the meeting, there have been multiple official reports and statements that provide a peek into China’s ‘zero Covid’ future.

On May 13, China’s National Health Commission called on all provinces to build or renovate city-level Fangcang hospitals, and to make sure they are equipped with electricity, ventilation systems, medical appliances, toilets, and washing facilities (Weibo hashtag ##以地级市为单位建设或者改造方舱医院#).

On May 16, the term ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital’ (Weibo hashtag #永久性方舱医院) became a trending topic on Weibo after Ma Xiaowei (马晓伟), Minister of China’s National Health Commission, introduced the term in Qiushi (求是), the leading official theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party.

The term is new and is somewhat contradictory as a concept, since ‘Fangcang hospitals’ are actually defined by their temporary nature.

Ma Xiaowei stressed the need for Chinese bigger cities to be ready for the next stage of China’s Covid control. This also includes the need for some central ‘Fangcang’ makeshift hospitals to become permanent ones.

In order to ‘normalize’ the control and monitoring that comes with living in Zero-Covid society, Chinese provincial capitals and bigger cities (more than ten million inhabitants) should do more to improve Covid testing capacities and procedures. Ma proposes that there should be nucleic acid sample collection points across the city within a 15-minute walking distance radius, and testing frequency should be increased to maximize efficient control and prevention.

Cities should be prepared to take in patients for isolation and/or treatment at designated hospitals, centralized isolation sites, and the permanent Fangcang hospitals. The recent Covid outbreak in Shanghai showed that local authorities were unprepared to deal with the outbreak, and sites that were used as Fangcang hospitals often lacked proper facilities, leading to chaotic scenes.

A Fangcang Isolation Center in Quanzhou, March 2022, via People’s Daily.

The hashtag “Permanent Fangcang Hospitals” received over 140 million views on Weibo on Monday.

One of the Weibo threads by state media reporting on the Permanent Fangcang hospitals and the publication by Ma Xiaowei received nearly 2000 comments, yet the comment section only displayed three comments praising the newly announced measures, leaving out the other 1987 comments.

Elsewhere on Weibo, people shared their views on the Permanent Fangcang Hospitals, and most were not very positive – most commenters shared their worries about China’s Covid situation about the stringent measures being a never-ending story.

“We’re normalizing nucleic acid test, we’re introducing permanent fangcang hospitals, [but] why isn’t the third Covid vaccination coming through?” one person wondered.

“If there was still a little bit of passion inside me, it was just killed by reading these words ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital,'” another commenter writes, with one Weibo user adding: “I feel desperate hearing the words ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital.'”

“Building permanent Fangcang? Why? Why don’t you use the resources you’re now spending on normalizing testing to create more hospital beds, more medical staff and more medications?”

Another commenter wrote: “China itself is one giant permanent Fangcang hospital.”

“The forever Fangcang are being built,” one Weibo user from Guangdong writes: “This will never end. We’ll be locked up like birds in a cage for our entire life.”

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Featured image via user tongtong [nickname] Weibo.com.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

‘Hard Isolation’ is Shanghai’s New Word of the Day

In line with a new ‘hard isolation’ measure, the entrances of some Shanghai residential buildings were fenced up.

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While some Shanghai households have already endured weeks of isolation, a new word was added to their epidemic vocabulary today: ‘hard isolation’ or ‘strong quarantine’ (yìng gélí 硬隔离)

The word popped up on Chinese social media on April 23rd after some Shanghai netizens posted photos of fences being set up around their community building to keep residents from walking out.

“New word: hard isolation. Shanghai is rotten to the core,” one commenter wrote.

The word soon turned into a hashtag page where people started commenting on the issue of fences being placed around residential buildings, voicing concerns on what a fence around buildings would mean for fire safety, especially after online rumors suggested that there had been a fire at one community in Pudong on Saturday night.

An official document regarding the ‘hard isolation’ measure was also shared online on Saturday. It is dated April 23, 2022, and its source is the Pudong New Area Office for Epidemic Control.

The document states that in line with the guidelines for the city’s epidemic prevention and control, the division between areas or zones that are in certain risk categories should be ‘optimized,’ with those in the high-risk category requiring a ‘hard isolation.’ Security guards should also be on duty 24 hours a day at the entrance of the buildings.

Earlier this month, Shanghai adopted “3-level control measures” after its initial phased lockdown. It means that local areas will be classified as “locked-down,” “controlled” or “precautionary,” based on their Covid19 risk.

“Could we also put fences around the homes of Shanghai leaders?”, one person suggested, while others posted images from the Walking Dead to mock the situation.

In the hope of Shanghai soon tackling the Covid situation, not everybody disagreed with the decision to fence some buildings or communities in the Pudong area: “I don’t disagree with it, as long as there is always someone there to open the fence in case of fire,” one person stated.

Although having a fence around their building is currently not a reality for most in Shanghai, the online photos of some communities seeing their buildings being fenced up is a reason to worry for some: “It’s been 40 days, and now they start hard isolation? This actually scares me. Before we know it, it’s June.”

One Weibo user asked: “Why is it possible to implement this hard isolation now? Was this created by the same persons who also implemented the rule to separate children from parents at isolation sites?”

“I truly can’t imagine why some people thought this is a good idea,” others wrote.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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