Hangzhou

This is my message for Hangzhou City government and the people of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is something precious because of the beauty of West Lake. Without West Lake, Hangzhou is nothing but an ordinary city in China. So the importance of West Lake to Hangzhou is the same importance of Hangzhou to China. The future and prosperity of Hangzhou depends on preservation and presentation and innovation of West Lake. This is a message from the heart of a man who has known Hangzhou since 1985 and loves Hangzhou very much.

My personal experience with Hangzhou has been long and with pleasant memories. The first time I visited Hangzhou was the first time I went to China in 1985 hired by the Ministry of Education as a professor at National Overseas Chinese University (Hua Qiao University), Quanzhou, Fujian. To make suggestions for Hangzhou, a little background material is necessary to make them intelligible, informative and interesting. During the 1985 winter vacation I visited Hangzhou for the first time. The beauty of West Lake was evident, Hangzhou was most unforgettable and remarkable. There is some truth in the Chinese saying: Up there is Heaven, down below there are Soochow and Hangzhou. Hangzhou as a city is better managed than Soochow. As an illustration, in one of my trips to Hangzhou I was staying at Shangri La Hotel. One thing I learned was surprising: the hotel manager sent staff members to pick up trash around the West Lake. Consequently, the spirit and practice of keeping West Lake clean is still maintained and real to the present day. 

One of my memorable experiences in Hangzhou was the first time I saw light snow falling; it was beautiful to watch and a wonderful experience to walk under an umbrella around West Lake. In addition to scenic beauty Hangzhou is also famous for its cuisine. I spent more than a total $300 to taste all Hangzhou famous dishes (including Beggar’s Chicken) at several most famous and best Hangzhou restaurants at various times. The US$300 in 1985 was a big sum for ordinary people. I still believe it was worth it. In addition to natural beauty, cuisine, Hangzhou produces and sells many cultural products such as antiques, fans, silk products, tea, gifts and presents, etc. worth buying. 

The China of today is not the China of 1985. I am lucky to have a correct perspective of China from 1985 to 2014 today. In the winter of 1985 with a student as a guide I took a trip of going around Westlake by foot and boat from morning until 3 p.m. When I entered a restaurant, I was told lunch was over; dinner will be served in the evening. That day I had no lunch at all. Restaurants in China then served at specific times; today you can dine 24 hours in Hangzhou. One winter I saw a girl looking cold and hungry around West Lake. I gave her then ¥5 (foreign exchange currency) which was worth more than RMB and sufficient to buy bread. To my surprise without saying thank you, she asked: Where is food coupon (liang biao)? I was surprised and answered: what do you think, am I a government official? How can I have food coupon? Later it dawned on me, without food coupon you cannot buy food even with money. 

I was invited twice by the Ministry of Education to lecture at Zhejiang University. The experience was positive and pleasant because Zhejiang University students were well educated and able to understand English the language of my all lectures. The professors were very respectful and amicable. While I was discriminated by American corporations and encountered frustrations and disappointments, I was highly admired and adored by Chinese university students and faculties. Zhejiang University presented me with a map of the University Campus made of silk with my name written on it, and I cherished it to this day. This was a sideline experience that I treasured very much and helped me to forget the unjust and unfair and discriminatory American society. In addition to Zhejiang University, I was also invited to lecture at Beijing Normal University, Xian Jiao-tong University (invited by the Shaanxi Provincial Government), North China Electric Power University, East China University of Science and Technology (invited by Shanghai Municipal Government), etc. Please see http://wongwillie.synthasite.com/precious-collection.php

The eagerness and enthusiasm of Chinese students gave me a very deep impression and convinced me that China will have a great future. During one of my lectures at a university, the university auditorium was packed and in addition there were more than 200 persons standing to hear my 2-hour long lecture. At the end there was a long line of students wanting my autographs. I was surprised by a female student who wanted my signature on her eyeglasses case. I thought maybe she thought that would give her a correct perspective of the world. 

The aspiration of Hangzhou to become the most civilized city in China is noble, commendable and desirable; for this reason I have some important suggestions for Hangzhou.

On November 7, 2013 I visited Hangzhou one more time. My suggestions for Hangzhou need to be updated. Hangzhou at the present is facing two big problems: traffic jams and air pollution. In fact, the two are related.  

(1). To get rid of traffic jam problem is mainly to get rid of private cars. Proliferation of private cars is the nightmare of Hangzhou, Shanghai and all major cities of China. Years ago I had warned that China should not copy the American way of life. Private cars should not be the major mode of transportation. Now following the United States China is falling into the bottomless pit of traffic jams, air and noise pollutions. Drivers who honk incessantly and loudly and stupidly must be stopped. How to get rid of private cars I have already explained in this article.

(2). Smog again hit Hangzhou and Shanghai. This is a matter of life and death, because it is a matter of breath. If you cannot breathe, you will die. If you breathe in polluted air you will get ill and cut short of your life. Urgent matters must have urgent solutions. Radical problems must have radical solutions. Get rid of vast majority of private cars. Get rid of dirty cars. Get rid of dirty factories and industries.

(3). Improve subway operations by quickly establishing more lines. The more subways lines and subway trains, Hangzhou can reduce surface traffic jam and air pollution. Hangzhou East Train Station has some structural problems. When you arrive at Hangzhou East Train Station, the signs make it clear for passengers to know how to get to subway station. But when you come from subway train arriving at Hangzhou East Subway Station, the signs do not make clear how you get to Hangzhou East Train Station. I observe there are many Hangzhou females have not learned how to give seat to the elderly and the very young. If Hangzhou wants to be the most civilized city in China, Hangzhou city government needs to have programs on TV teaching people civility. For example, it is uncivilized to cross your legs while sitting on a subway train, because your legs block the passage way, etc. Toilet facilities at Train and Subway stations and the shopping malls, restaurants and public places must be maintained clean all the time. Smoking must be punished and fined to get rid of the obnoxious habit. Passengers must not be allowed or tolerated to smoke at train platforms where passengers get on or get off trains. There is no exception. The restroom or toilet facilities should be built on the platform where passengers get on or get off subway trains, not upstairs before you enter the subway station. Fast food facilities should be built where passengers exit but still inside the subway station.

(4). Big buses have respected pedestrian right of crossing the street, but private cars do not. Worst are electric bikes and motorcycles who ride through red light. Even when a big bus stops for pedestrians, the pedestrians maybe hit or killed by private cars and motorcycles and electric bikes. Like Shanghai, motorcycles and electric bikes do not obey traffic law and ride through red lights. They must be punished and confiscated their vehicles. If they kill pedestrians, they must be executed as murderers. Drunk drivers who kill people are murderers.

(5). Beautiful West Lake is not beautiful anymore because the hills and islands and West Lake itself are under a shroud of heavy smog. Without West Lake, Hangzhou cannot be a beautiful city. A smoggy and traffic jammed Hangzhou cannot attract millions of tourists. I am sure the Hangzhou city government understands what is at stake.

(6). I also visited the two museums near West Lake Cultural Square Station. Regarding historical artifacts and relics, it is necessary to have a date labeled on each item.

(7). When you exit Hangzhou East Subway Station going to Hangzhou East Train Station, it is a vast area without any seating for tired passengers. There should be more seating benches for tourists at all subway platforms waiting to get on or off subway trains, and subway stations as well as at Hangzhou East Train Station where you see passengers looking for seats or just standing there.

I am a regular visitor of Hangzhou; it is hoped in my text trip I will see great improvements have taken place. I believe Hangzhou can learn a lot from Shanghai because Shanghai City Government does things in an effective and efficient manner.

From 1985–2014 we have taken more than 40 trips to Hangzhou. On April 8, 2014 I visited Hangzhou once more time. It was the most disappointed visit so far. Everything went wrong. Weather was wrong. I was fooled by incorrect weather forecast published on the Internet that Hangzhou temperature was between 4 and 12 degrees Celsius. I was dressed too warm. The temperature was 18 degrees but feeling like 28. The food was wrong. I ate at an expensive restaurant; the food was not delicious at all. The shopping was wrong because the Chinese medicine was out of stock. West Lake was wrong because it was vanished in heavy smog or swallowed by smog. In many sections of West Lake you could not see the center of the lake where there are small islands. The blurry appearance of West Lake was like the view of a person who had cataract, or like a person wearing glasses in a steamy bath room. West Lake was shrouded with smog, looking opaque and like a mirage. The drab, dreary and dirty skyline gave you an unmistakable bad feeling. The only redeeming feature was the peach trees were in blossoms, but not as great and glorious as it was in 1989 when the Ministry of Education invited me to lecture at Zhejiang University. I also discovered and learned something new: willow trees produce feather like white materials floating profusely in the air around West Lake. Although I am not a doctor, I believe those white feather-like small materials in the air are bad for human respiratory system and it also may cause allergies. Somehow it gave me a feeling Hangzhou is not getting better. This time smog spoiled my trip to Hangzhou. Had I known of the situation, I wouldn’t have taken trouble to go. If the smog of Hangzhou gave a person who has had a long history of affection for Hangzhou a bad feeling, how devastating would be to the visitors who came to Hangzhou the first time. Yawning is infectious. Hangzhou smog gives tourists a big yawning. It is about time the Governor of Zhejiang and the Mayor of Hangzhou get the dreadful and fearful message: To save Hangzhou from smog is to save the beauty of West Lake. Hangzhou is a precious city of China because of West Lake. Without the beauty of West Lake, Hangzhou would not mean anything. Smog spoils everything. I was informed there is no more dirty factory within the city of Hangzhou, so the deadly smog was created by 95% of private cars. Drastic situation calls for drastic measures. To save Hangzhou, 95% of private cars are the enemies, the enemies must be eliminated. What I have said to Hangzhou, I also say to Shanghai. Shanghai is the most progressive and best managed city in the world, Shanghai need to destroy smog or smog will destroy Shanghai. Smog is not the way to live. There is no pleasure to live in smog. There is no excuse or phony explanation of the wind and dust from the north.

Condition: Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and Shanghai are shrouded sadly in smog. Solutions: 

(1). Hangzhou needs to get rid 95% of private cars and rapidly build more subway lines.

(2). Shanghai needs to get rid of all dirty factories and 2/3 of all private cars.

(3). Shanghai needs to get rid of all private cars with license plates of other cities and provinces. That means cars without Shanghai license plates are not allowed in Shanghai.

(4). Prohibit outdoor barbecues and temple incense burning and trash burning.

(5). Declare Hangzhou and Shanghai to be smokeless cities with enforcement.

(6). Increase car sale tax by 100% of sale price. A car that sells at

¥50,000 will pay sale tax of ¥50,000 and impose heavy taxes on annual license fee, gasoline, oil, car repairs, car wash, parking, car accessories, car parts, etc. All cars need casualty insurance and liability insurance.

(7). Curb and control industrial dust.

(8). Get rid of drivers who honk incessantly by creating not only smog pollution but also noise pollution.

(9). Get rid all cars (including buses, trucks, and private cars) that do not meet air-pollution standards.

(10). For a city to attract tourists from all over the world there must be quality of life:

A. The environment must be good and clean and sanitary and safe. There must be plenty of parks, gardens, trees and flowers. For example, the violence and high crime rate in America discourage tourists. Chinese cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou are 1,000 times safer than American major cities and do not have crime concern. Food, drug and drink safety must be protected and enforced. Public sanitation must be enforced and maintained in all public (such as airport, train station and shopping mall) and private (such as restaurants and stores) facilities. The sanitation of Hangzhou and Shanghai subway and train station toilet facilities fall below the standard. The toilet facilities of many department stores and restaurants and office buildings are also below standard. Toilet facilities of restaurants, shopping malls, office buildings, etc. that fall below standard must be upgraded or penalized.

B. Hotels must be nice, clean, modernly equipped and reasonably priced with good service.

C. There must be a variety of delicious, nutritious and safe food served in all shopping malls and various restaurants. Once after eating in a Taiwanese restaurant I suffered diarrhea, vomiting and high fever that needed emergency care.

D. Shopping must be convenient and with bargain prices such as Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street and Yu Garden of Shanghai; and Hangzhou nightlife street market. At the airport and train stations, city and tourist maps, hotel and shopping center and restaurant directories should be made available free of charge to visitors. Foreign exchange rate should be uniform everywhere, airports, banks, hotels, shopping centers, and foreign exchange booths.

E. There must be scenic beauty and many nice spots for sightseeing. For example, Disneyland Shanghai would be a hit for tourist attraction in the end of 2015.

F. All businesses and service industry (especially tourist business) must be honest and dependable. Once I was in Taipei, I paid for a sightseeing trip to be picked up at a 5-star hotel where I stayed, but the tourist agency did not show up. The stupid manager suggested that I went to airport to find them. Fraudulent or overcharges and bad services repel tourists and they are illegal and uncivilized practices. A taxi driver that charged $800 for a 2-mile trip happened in America, should and could never happen in China.

G. There must be many cultural performances in concert halls and great theaters (such as Phantom of the Opera in Shanghai), public squares (Westlake water show can be counted as one), and sport activities in world class stadiums.

H. There must be precious museums and special exhibits and interesting fairs all year round.

L. Public transportation must be convenient, cheap, safe and fast. Traffic congestion disheartens and dispels tourists.

M. Government or agency services must be friendly, efficient and fast and unbureaucratic and not corrupt.

N. Citizens must be civilized and friendly. Littering, spitting, smoking, shouting, walking dogs to defecate in public places, etc. are uncivilized behavior. Parents who let their children defecate in public must be fined and educated.

1. Smog

Hangzhou is a very special Chinese city, it is unique, unusual and none like it. In my opinion, Hangzhou is a great city in China. West Lake makes Hangzhou a precious city. Hangzhou would not be anything without West Lake. To preserve the beauty and property of Hangzhou, the City Government encounters many risks and enemies. 

Without doubt, smog is the first and foremost threat to Hangzhou. On April 17, 2013 I visited Hangzhou once more time. I had visited Hangzhou more times than Chairman Mao did. I was very disappointed to witness that West Lake disappeared in heavy smog. The scenic beauty avails to nothing if you cannot see them. Hangzhou City government has foresight and did the right thing in building subway although at present it has very limited coverage with one line only. The government should speed up in building and adding more lines to cover the whole city in a convenient, cheap, speedy and safe way. The subway system should be the main public mode of transportation serving 95% of Hangzhou population. 

Taxis and buses (electric buses) are still necessary to supplement subway and light rail and trucks to carry goods and products. Private cars are the number one enemy of Hangzhou because they mostly create smog and pollute the environment. Hangzhou with its small area and narrow streets are not fit for private cars. It is imperative that the city government of Hangzhou to control proliferation of private cars and reduce them by 2/3. I say again and again, get rid of private cars if Hangzhou is to be beautiful and desirable. To implement control and reduction of private cars, the following measures can be adopted immediately. 

(A). Equal price for equal tax.

If a car is priced at ¥1 million, the sale tax is also ¥1 million. If a car is sold at ¥30,000, the sale tax would also be ¥30,000. Sale tax covers new and used cars. Notice foreign car dealers (American, European and Japanese) overcharge Chinese consumers 3 times what they charge consumers in America, Europe and Japan. It is hoped Chinese government will strike at the monopolistic and predatory practices of foreign companies fleecing and defrauding Chinese consumers with paybacks and heavy fines. In fact, all foreign imported goods including cosmetics, drugs, vitamins, etc. are overcharged many times in China. These corrupt foreign corporations even falsely blame China's import tax for high prices. In fact China's import tax is minimal while profits of foreign companies are exceedingly high.

(B). Gas tax

There will be imposed a 20% extra energy tax on top of what is charged by central government for gasoline and oil.

(C). Car accessories tax

Additional 20% is added to the price of tires, auto parts, auto repairs, auto maintenance (such as oil change, air-conditioning, anti-freeze, belts, tubes, battery, windshield, etc.).

(D). Car repair tax

A 20% tax is added on any car repair, including tune-up, radiator, transmission, car body repair, engine rebuild, etc.).

(E). Car license tax

There is an initial car license plate fee based on the value of purchased price, and then annual usage fee. The more expense the car, the higher the license fee.

(F). Car wash tax

Water is a precious resource, too good to be wasted on car wash. A 20% tax is added to car wash fee.

(G). Parking tax

Parking lot is the most unproductive use of limited land resources. A 20% tax is added to parking fee. Car parking business must pay a high land lease tax.

(H). Car insurance tax

All drivers are required to buy car insurance that mandatorily covers accident and casualty, medical and property damage insurance.

(I). Alternate day usage

Every car can only drive on the odd or even day based on the license plate.

For example, if the number of your car license plate ends in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 – you are allowed to drive on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

If your car license plate ends in 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 – you are only allowed to drive on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. 

2. Traffic

Traffic laws must be rigorously and vigorously enforced. Penalty must fit the crime. Before implementing the traffic laws and penalties, programs of public education must be provided on TV and to be broadcasted daily for three months

(A). Going through red light

¥50 penalty - pedestrian.

¥100 penalty - bicycle.

¥200 penalty – electric bike

¥300 penalty – motor cycle

¥1,000 penalty – private car and taxi

¥2,000 penalty – bus and truck

(B). Riding or diving on pedestrian walk

¥100 penalty – bicycle

¥200 penalty – electric bike

¥300 penalty – motor cycle

¥1,000 penalty – private car and taxi

¥2,000 penalty – bus and truck

(C). Excessive speed

¥300 penalty – bicycle

¥400 penalty – electric bike

¥500 penalty – motor cycle

¥1,000 penalty – private car and taxi

¥2,000 penalty – bus and truck

(D) Unnecessary honking

¥200 penalty – electric bike

¥400 penalty – motor cycle

¥1,000 penalty – private car

¥2,000 penalty – bus and truck

(E). Driving at high beam

Driving at high beam in the evening is very dangerous because high beam blinds other drivers and pedestrians.

¥500 penalty – motor cycle

¥1,000 penalty – private car and taxi

¥2,000 penalty – bus and truck

(F). Unsafe vehicle

¥400 penalty – electric bike

¥500 penalty – motor cycle

¥1,000 penalty – private car and taxi

¥2,000 penalty – bus and truck

(G). Drunk driving

¥400 penalty – electric bike

¥500 penalty – motor cycle

¥3,000 penalty – private car and taxi

¥5,000 penalty – bus and truck

Drunk drivers who kill – death penalty.

Drunk divers who destroy or damage property – cost plus penalty ¥10,000. 

3. Subway

It is in the interest of Hangzhou to make subway or light rail the main mode of transportation of 95% of commuters.

(A). Speed up in building more subway lines and subway stations.

(B). Provide subway maps and other resources in every subway station.

(D). Increase frequency of running.

(E). Increase service hours from 5:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m.

(F). Enforce no smoking, drinking, eating, littering, begging, performing, shouting, singing, spitting, etc. on subway train.

(G). Provide eating facilities inside subway stations.

(H). Provide restroom facilities at each subway station.

(I). Sell subway cards at real cost, do not charge ¥20 for deposit as Hong Kong and other cities do, it is like a soft extortion because if the card is lost, the consumer bears the loss, not the subway company.

(J). Provide enough seats for riders waiting for next subway train.

(K). No animals are allowed into subway station or on subway train except guide dog for the blind. 

4. Food, drink and water

It is of utmost importance that Hangzhou use laws and enforcement to make food, drink and water safe sold by supermarkets, food stores and served by restaurants.

Drug stores and all stores are responsible for selling food, drink and drug that kills or harms people. The responsible manufacturer will also be executed and all assets seized to pay victims. 

5. Environment

To be the most civilized city in China, the city government of Hangzhou needs to eliminate the principle and practices of incivility. Environment includes the physical, social, commercial, moral and cultural. At the moment to maintain a clean and healthy environment is of vital importance. Fraud and excessive charge are to be penalized and prosecuted severely. Without controlling air pollution – smog – and water pollution, Hangzhou may lose its greatest and most precious asset – West Lake. By losing West Lake, Hangzhou will lose its attraction of tourists. By losing tourists, it will affect the whole economy of Hangzhou.

6. Civility

There are twelve elements which characterize most uncivilized behavior and they are observable and verifiable. Unlike many American cities, there are no people in Hangzhou who put you to fear. You can walk at leisure anywhere anytime enjoying natural beauty and sightseeing without fear.

The first element which characterizes most uncivilized behavior is violence.

The second element of incivility is dirtiness.

The third element of uncivilized behavior is vulgarity.

The fourth element of incivility is disrespect for human lives.

The fifth element of incivility is ignorance or stupidity.

The sixth element of incivility is destructiveness.

The seventh element of incivility is disrespect for other's rights.

The eighth element of incivility is indifference to the suffering, dying or life-threatening situation of strangers around you.

The ninth element of uncivilized behavior is disregard for rules and regulations.

The tenth element of uncivilized behavior is the physical abuse or mistreatment of prisoners, strangers, aliens, people you dont like, etc.

The eleventh element that characterizes an uncivilized person is the fear he puts to people.

The twelfth element that characterizes incivility is the lack of refinement.

What Hangzhou government needs to do is to promote civility, but deter and punish uncivilized behavior.

It is acceptable and rational to consider the following behavior as uncivilized:

(A).smoking

(B). spitting

(C). shouting (in public without cause)

(D). sneezing (without cover)

(E). sitting with leg crossing to block passage on subway train or bus

(F). unyielding to the elderly on subway or bus

(G). littering

(H). playing loud music

(I). dog barking to disturb neighbors

(J). walking dog or cat to defecate or urinate in public

(K). walking through red light (traffic violation)

(L). drive honking excessively (traffic violation)

(M). driving or riding on sidewalk (traffic violation)

(N). driving through red light (major traffic violation)

(O). reckless driving (major traffic violation)

(P). drink and drive (major traffic violation)

(Q). driving under influence (major traffic violation)

(R). cursing

(S). pushing

(T). breaking lineup

(U). demanding begging

(V). forced selling

(W). smelling bad (due to uncleanliness)

(X). giving out misinformation or misdirection

(Y). staring at people

(Z). graffiti (public offense)

If you want to be a civilized person, the following principles are to be followed and observed. It does not matter you do a thousand and one good things, doing just one bad thing can ruin you.

(1).    Do not violate the rights of others.

Just give you an illustration how to apply this principle. When you smoke, you violate the right of others. When you walk your dog to defecate on public or other people property, you violate the right of others. When you pollute the environment, you violate the rights of others. Breaking the line or queue is a violation of the rights of others. There are a thousand and one ways you can violate the rights of others. If you do not flush toilet after use, not only you violate the rights of others, you disgrace yourself. Remember whatever you do, do not violate the rights of others.

(2).    Do not hurt or harm others.

(3).    Do not insult others.

(4).    Do not create problems or cause troubles.

(5).    Do not speak arrogantly before people.

(6).    Do not take advantage of others.

(7).    Do not defraud or deceive people.

(8).    Do not show violence or aggression.

(9).    Do not disturb others.

(10). Do not display disgraceful or shameful behavior.

(11). Do not interrupt others.

(12). Do not shout or sing in public.

(13). Do not touch the opposite sex.

(14). Do not damage property of others.

These 14 principles will help anyone to become a civilized person.

Please read Uncivilized Behavior.

I love Hangzhou; millions of peoples (Chinese and foreigners) also love Hangzhou. I have met people from all over the world who love Hangzhou. The future and prosperity of Hangzhou depends on how Hangzhou city government effectively cleans up the smog and controls the traffic jam. I have complete confidence that the suggestions I have made above are conducive and effective in achieving the objective. SMOG IS NOW THE NO. 1 PROBLEM. What must be done must be done quickly and effectively. Hangzhou can learn from Shanghai in many things. 

May 31, 2014

Willie Wong

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