Earlier in August, the Nanchang Train Station had trees planted surrounded by stone planters in the public square. Travelers took a seat on the stone surrounding the trees, but the train station administration responded by putting fences around the trees, preventing anyone from sitting.
Train stations are always crowded in China and rarely have enough seats to accommodate travelers, so many people were annoyed by the fences. Southern Weekly on August 2 published an op-ed by Zuo Zhendong about the topic, arguing for more seats in public places:
China, “Please Sit!”
In polite speaking, I think “please sit” is the phrase that gives people the most material benefit. Other phrases like “hello,” “thank you,” and “sorry” just give lip service, but “please sit” gives a real benefit to the body, especially when traveling and waiting for a long time.
Recently, it was reported that in Nanchang Railway Station’s public square, fences were built around a set of “stone benches” in a green area, causing people to star at the seats in despair. The department in charge responded: Netizens’ and travelers’ so-called “stone benches” are actually planters to support trees. Some travelers used the planters to rest. “Aside from harming the tree’s environment, some people are also sleeping there, hurting Nanchang’s image as the provincial capital,” one person said.
The everyday people naively thought what was created for the tree’s benefit was for their own benefit. Now people finally know the truth: Those “stone benches” aren’t really benches. It was just when people began sitting on them that they began being used as benches.
During the Shanghai Expo, in order to rank “the most needed things,” one reporter asked citizens what they wanted. He discovered that what the visitors most wanted was seats. Has there ever been someone to ask travelers at the train station how strongly they desire a seat? In photos, there can be seen people who jumped the fence to sit down inside the green area, and there are others who content themselves with just leaning on the fence. So many people cannot enduring standing so long, so they just sit on the ground next to the fence. If people are tired, they must sit. What the people require is a seat, not a so-called green area.
The train station is the city’s public space. It attracts people from all over coming and going. It’s the city’s living room. As a city administrator, you aren’t just a public servant, you are also a host. How can you not say to the tourists and city folk traveling so far who enter your living room, “Please sit!”
So the Nanchang Railway Station management didn’t just make a mistake when they surrounded the area with fence. They made a mistake from the start. It’s obvious that the problem in the train station square is that there aren’t enough seats.
Perhaps the administrators thought, China’s population is too large. There is no way to provide enough seats. China lacking “please sit” is really a political and social culture. … It’s hard to understand how the administrators can build such large parks and squares but not include a few chairs. Searching on the internet, there are quite a few citizens calling for the parks and squares to have more seats.