Forbes columnist Eric Jackson had a remarkable experience while sitting on the runway in Hangzhou.
The flight was delayed. Every 45 minutes or so the pilot would come back and give updates. But after 3 hours, people started flipping out.
One guy shouted: “Why would you people be so stupid to board us on the plane when you knew there was going to be this delay?” Another: “Yes. This is crazy. You always do this to us on flights. You never planned on leaving on time anyway. Why didn’t you let us stay in the terminal?” Then, one guy started screaming: “You lie. You lie. You lie.” He kept repeating himself for 10 minutes. A new guy about 5 rows ahead on me in the window seat inexplicably started pounding his fist on the cabin wall. He didn’t say anything. He just kept beating on the plane to display his anger. One old man than shoved an older flight attendant and other flight attendants started rushing to her assistance.
Then guess what happened. The plane started moving down the runway and five minutes later it took off.
Jackson takes this as a sign of potential unrest in China:
The whole episode left me with a sobering thought: God help the Chinese authorities if these folks ever got really upset about food prices or jobs or providing for their families. If provoked, the Chinese would be up in arms about 50 times sooner than any American. When you hear about the Chinese government wanting to ensure there is “social stability” or “social harmony,” what they’re really talking about is keeping these folks that were on my Guangzhou flight subdued and happy.
But you can also look at the incident in a positive light. After all they got the plane moving. Isn’t it a good thing if Chinese have a low tolerance for inefficiency and a willingness to speak up?
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