中国共享单车乱象引发国民素质之问

编辑:给力英语新闻 更新:2017年9月5日 作者:纽约时报中文网赫海威(JAVIER C. HERNáNDEZ)

一群志愿者在北京把完好及被损坏的共享单车放回更靠近市中心的位置。
一群志愿者在北京把完好及被损坏的共享单车放回更靠近市中心的位置。A group of volunteers in Beijing returning stranded and damaged shared bicycles to more central locations.

北京——刘立京(音)是北京的一名机械工,他对礼仪一般不太注意。他不介意人们用扬声器大声播放刺耳的音乐,他穿着带油渍的小背心在离家不远的路上散步。但是,刘立京最近对一名素不相识者把一辆自行车丢弃在他家门外的灌木丛里的事情愤怒不已。

他抱怨说,北京已被初创公司的共享单车淹没了,使用者到处乱扔这些自行车,根本不考虑到其他居民。“没有一点起码的礼貌,”他嘀咕着说,同时气冲冲地拾起被丢弃的自行车,把它举在空中。“人们像对待敌人一样相互对待。”

在逾10亿美元融资的支持下,70多家公司正在争夺市场份额,这种竞争导致逾1600多万辆共享单车出现在中国城市交通堵塞的道路上。这些初创公司已重塑了城市景观,它们把配备了GPS和电子锁的自行车放到了几乎所有的路口,硅谷只能梦想这种铺天盖地的方式。

但是,伴随受欢迎的共享单车而来的是大量的不端行为。因为这些共享单车没有需要桩子的固定停放点,骑车人把它们杂乱无章地丢弃在路边和公共广场上,妨碍了交通,堵塞了人行道。偷车贼已偷走了数以万计的共享单车,或自己使用,或拆出零件出售。被这些车惹怒、拿它们恶作剧的破坏者把共享单车挂在树上、埋在建设工地里,还把它们扔进湖里或河里。

这些问题让人们对中国共享单车蓬勃发展的可持续性产生怀疑。但这种乱象也让许多中国人寻找更深层次的原因,他们提出共享单车是否揭示了中华民族的劣根性,引发了一场关于中国社会风气败坏、礼仪和道德衰落的深刻辩论。

“我们扪心自问,‘中国人、中华民族出了什么毛病吗?’”位于北京的中国国际广播电台的政治评论员徐秦铎(音)说。他还说,虽然许多人为国家的经济成就和不断增长的全球影响力感到自豪,但人们担心,中国仍缺乏强烈的道德意识

有的人说,滥用共享单车的行为反映了中国人只为自己着想的心态,这种心态源自上个世纪的极端贫困。有的人则对在他们眼里对陌生人和公共资源漠不关心的态度感到不安。国内的新闻媒体常常用表示不相信的口吻来报道这种滥用行为,部分原因是中国人普遍认为自己生活在一个守法的社会里,犯罪率相对较低。

在许多城市,共享单车的供应远远超过需求,在人行道、公交车站和十字路口造成混乱,也引发了抱怨,有人认为国内特有的过度竞争正在让好事变成坏事。据政府统计,在上海,每16人就有一辆共享单车,那里的官员们正在为维护秩序伤透脑筋。

有些地方当局已经没收了数以万计的自行车,并对共享单车的停放采取了限制措施。新闻媒体以各色单车堆积成山的惊人图片记录下这巨大的浪费,不同的公司有不同颜色的单车。

城市官员也在对付各种别出心裁的破坏行为,从砸坏车锁的轻度破坏,到把整辆车点燃的严重行为。有些破坏之举是愤怒的居民干的,他们因共享单车在自己住宅区里堆放而深受困扰。但是,几个城市的警方也发现,有些破坏行为是心怀不满的三轮车和出租车司机干的,因为共享单车抢了他们的生意。

“每天都在打仗,”位于北京东北部的一个住宅小区的保安人员柯进(音)说,他一边说,一边从胡乱堆在一起的蓝色和黄色自行车中清理出一条通道。“不管不顾是人的本性。”

在社交媒体上和人们的交谈中,经常听到人们把共享单车比作“照妖镜”,认为其暴露了中国人的本性。在这个意义上,这是中国人批判性自省的最新篇章,这种自省在共产主义革命胜利之前就开始了,著名作家鲁迅当年曾抨击过中国文化自私、自大、奴性和残忍的特点。

乱象讨论的很大部分围绕着中文里的“素质”概念,或可说是涵盖人的行为、教育、伦理、智力和品味内在的内在品质。中国人在批评他人不良习惯或无礼行为时常用“素质低”的说法,有些人为中国社会已有几代人缺乏素质而扼腕,有时还称不相信能让中国人投票选举,因为他们的素质太低。

从事于这种所谓的共享经济行业、靠人们的良好行为盈利的技术主管们,现在是声音最大的批评者之一。

共享单车初创公司3VBike已于今年6月份被迫关闭,公司在小城市街道投放的1000辆自行车几乎全部被盗。公司创始人吴胜华在接受中国新闻媒体采访时,指责公众的“素质差”是导致公司破产的部分原因。

其他人则认为,人们夸大了盗窃和破坏共享单车的行为,认为新生事物出现一些乱象是预料之中的事情,行为不端的问题在其他国家可能更糟。

中国最受欢迎的共享单车应用之一是摩拜单车,摩拜的创始人兼总裁胡玮炜说,共享单车的益处大于任何不利之处,她指出,共享单车降低了碳排放量,改善了交通状况。

摩拜设计了一个用来惩罚不良行为(比如把自行车扔在马路当中)的计分系统,胡炜炜表示,随着共享单车公司找到奖励良好行为的更好方法,现有问题预计将会消失。“好的制度可以让人们的善良和道德观展示出来,”她说。

美国的达拉斯和西雅图已开始尝试使用无桩共享单车,但最近,纽约市政府向一家打算在纽约进行尝试的公司发了勒令停止函

中国初创公司是共享单车全球扩张的一部分。中国公司Ofo已于8月下旬在西雅图投放了1000辆自行车,摩拜也在今年6月在英国曼彻斯特亮相,并在那里遇到了类似的盗窃和破坏行为

加州大学洛杉矶分校中国研究中心主任、人类学家阎云翔说,中国的农耕社会根源让人们更依赖于亲朋好友的小圈子,而不信任陌生人。他说,结果是,很多人不理解公共财产的意义,对公共规则持怀疑态度。

“公共财产被视为无主之物,”他说,“因此人们认为,他们可以随便使用。”

但阎云翔说,共享单车总体上的成功,表明中国人之间的相互信任感正在增长。

一些公民已为促进公共利益的事业成立了志愿者组织。

23岁的赵奇(音)是一名建筑师,他把大部分业余时间花在“单车狩猎”上,他漫步在北京街头,寻找遭人破坏的自行车和行为不端的骑车人。

赵奇说,他这样做的动机一部分出自爱国主义。多年来,中国一直努力想开发出风靡海外的技术产品。现在,许多人在共享单车上看到了希望,国内的新闻媒体已把共享单车称为现代四大发明之一,把它与中国古代的四大发明:火药、纸张、印刷术和指南针相提并论。

“这是国家骄傲的象征,是中国送给世界的礼物,”赵奇说。“我们不能把它搞砸了。”

另一位志愿者是46岁的程晓枫(音),她在一家国有投资公司工作,她说,自4月份以来,她已经报告了4000多辆停放不当的共享单车。

“我相信人是善良的,人性本善,”她说。“但有时,他们受到不好的影响,需要有人来纠正。”

最近一个晚上,程晓枫在北京雍和宫附近的一个住宅区里,看到一名女子试图把共享单车停放在小区内,这有违共享单车公司的规定。程晓枫试图劝说女子不要这样做。那位女子露出不解的样子,丢下自行车扬长而去。

赫海威(Javier C. Hernández)是《纽约时报》驻京记者。

Yang Xiong对本文有研究贡献。

翻译:Cindy Hao

As Bike-Sharing Brings Out Bad Manners, China Asks, What’s Wrong With Us?

BEIJING—Liu Lijing, a mechanic in Beijing, does not usually pay much attention to manners. He does not mind when people blast loud music, and he strolls the alleyways near his home in a tank top stained with grease. But when a stranger recently ditched a bicycle in the bushes outside his door, Mr. Liu was irate.

Start-ups have flooded the city with shared bikes, he complained, and people have been leaving them all over the place without thinking about other residents. “There’s no sense of decency anymore,” he muttered, picking up the discarded bike and heaving it into the air in anger. “We treat each other like enemies.”

There are now more than 16 million shared bicycles on the road in China’s traffic-clogged cities, thanks to a fierce battle for market share among 70-plus companies backed by a total of more than $1 billion in financing. These start-ups have reshaped the urban landscape, putting bikes equipped with GPS and digital locks on almost every street corner in a way that Silicon Valley can only dream of.

But their popularity has been accompanied by a wave of misbehavior. Because the start-ups do not use fixed docking stations, riders abandon bicycles haphazardly along streets and public squares, snarling traffic and cluttering sidewalks. Thieves have taken them by the tens of thousands, for personal use or selling them for parts. Angry and mischievous vandals hang them in trees, bury them in construction sites and throw them into lakes and rivers.

Such problems have raised questions about the sustainability of China’s bike-share boom. But the debacle has also led many Chinese to look for deeper explanations and ask if bike-sharing has revealed essential flaws in the national character, prompting a far-reaching debate about social decay and the decline of decorum and morality in the country.

“We look at ourselves, and we ask, ‘What is wrong with the Chinese nation, the Chinese people?’” said Xu Qinduo, a political commentator for China Radio International in Beijing. Many people are proud of the country’s economic achievements and growing global clout, he added, but worry that it still lacks a strong sense of morals.

Some say abuse of the bicycles reflects an every-man-for-himself mentality in China that has its roots in the extreme poverty of the last century. Others are bothered by what they see as a lack of concern for strangers and public resources. The transgressions have been chronicled in the local news media with a tone of disbelief, in part because Chinese generally see themselves as a law-abiding society and crime rates are relatively low.

In many cities, the supply of bicycles far exceeds demand, bringing chaos to sidewalks, bus stops and intersections and prompting grumbles that excessive competitiveness — seen as a national trait — is spoiling a good thing. In Shanghai, where officials have struggled to maintain order, there is now one shared bike for every 16 people, according to government statistics.

In some places, the authorities have confiscated tens of thousands of bicycles and imposed parking restrictions. News outlets have documented the waste with astounding images of mountains of candy-colored bicycles, each hue representing a different bike-share company.

City officials are also grappling with creative vandalism of the bicycles, which varies in severity from smashing the locking device to setting the entire vehicle on fire. Some of the destruction has been attributed to residents angry about the blight of bikes piling up in their neighborhoods. But the police in several cities have also cited disgruntled rickshaw and taxi drivers upset that bike-sharing has sapped their business.

“It’s a battle every day,” said Ke Jin, a security guard at a residential compound in northeast Beijing, as he cleared a path that had been blocked by a tangled heap of blue and yellow bikes. “It’s human nature not to care.”

On social media and in conversation, it is common to hear people describe bike-sharing as a “monster-revealing mirror” that has exposed the true nature of the Chinese people. In that sense, it is the latest chapter in a line of critical introspection that stretches back before the Communist Revolution, when the famed writer Lu Xun assailed Chinese culture as selfish, boastful, servile and cruel.

Much of the discussion of the mess has revolved around the Chinese concept of suzhi, or inner quality, which can encompass a person’s behavior, education, ethics, intellect and taste. Chinese often invoke “low suzhi” in criticizing the bad habits or manners of others, and have bemoaned a deficit of suzhi in Chinese society for generations, sometimes arguing that they cannot be trusted with elections because their suzhi is too low.

Technology executives who work in the so-called sharing economy and depend on good behavior for profit are now among the more prominent critics.

One start-up, 3V Bike, was forced to shut down in June after nearly all its 1,000 bicycles were stolen from the streets of small cities. In interviews with Chinese news outlets, the company’s founder, Wu Shenghua, blamed the public’s “poor suzhi” in part for driving the company out of business.

Others have argued that theft and vandalism of bicycles had been overstated, that some disorder was to be expected with innovation and that misbehavior would be worse in other countries.

Hu Weiwei, founder and president of Mobike, one of the most popular bike-sharing apps in China, said the benefits of shared bicycles far outweighed any inconvenience, noting reductions in carbon emissions and improvements in traffic.

Mobike has designed a point system to punish misdeeds like leaving a bike in the middle of a road, and Ms. Hu said she expected problems to disappear as companies became better at incentivizing virtuous behavior. “A good system can bring out people’s good will and moral values,” she said.

In the United States, Dallas and Seattle have experimented with dockless bike-sharing programs, although New York City recently issued a cease-and-desist letter to a company planning a demonstration.

Chinese start-ups are part of this global expansion, with one company, Ofo, deploying 1,000 bikes in Seattle in late August, and Mobike making its debut in June in Manchester, Britain, where similar issues of theft and vandalism have emerged.

Yunxiang Yan, an anthropologist who serves as director of the U.C.L.A. Center for Chinese Studies, said China’s roots as an agricultural society made people more dependent on a small circle of relatives and friends and less trusting of strangers. As a result, he said, many people do not see the purpose of public property and are skeptical of communal rules.

“Public properties are seen as having no owner,” he said, “therefore people believe they can take advantage of them.”

But Mr. Yan said the overall success of bike sharing suggested that mutual trust was growing in China.

Some citizens have formed volunteer groups to take up the cause of promoting the common good.

Zhao Qi, 23, an architect, spends much of his free time as a “bike hunter,” roaming the streets of Beijing looking for vandalized bikes and misbehaving riders.

Mr. Zhao said he was motivated partly by patriotism. China has been pushing for years to develop technology products that catch fire overseas. Many now see promise in bike-sharing, with the domestic news media hailing it as one of China’s four great modern inventions, drawing a comparison with the ancient inventions of gunpowder, paper, printing and the compass.

“This is a symbol of national pride — a gift from China to the world,” Mr. Zhao said. “We can’t mess it up.”

Another volunteer, Cheng Xiaofeng, 46, who works for a state-owned investment company, said she had reported more than 4,000 improperly parked bicycles since April.

“I believe that people are kind, and that human nature is good,” she said. “But sometimes they fall under bad influences and need to be corrected.”

On a recent evening, Ms. Cheng came upon a woman trying to park a bicycle inside a residential compound near the Lama Temple, in Beijing, in violation of rules set by bike-sharing companies. Ms. Cheng tried to persuade her to reconsider. The woman gave a confused look, left the bike and walked away.

Yang Xiong contributed research.