The umbrellas are the latest example of China’s booming sharing economy which more usually involves bikes, cars or apartments.
The umbrellas were locked to railings in public places such as railway or subway stations, at bus stops, as well as shopping malls. As with other sharing schemes, users simply register for the service, pay a deposit, and then scan a QR code to unlock the umbrella. Rental costs 1 yuan, about 15 US cents, for one hour.
An official from the city’s urban management department, surnamed Chen, said the umbrellas were taking up much space in public areas. The rules forbid the hanging of objects on railings, trees or fences that harm the appearance of the city.
“We will continue to keep an eye on sharing umbrellas and prevent them from damaging the city’s appearance.” Chen added.
The founder of the sharing umbrella scheme in Hangzhou, Zhao Shuping, said he was aware that some of his company’s umbrellas had been taken away. However, Zhao remained positive about the development of his service, saying that they were planning to site barrels around the city to place the umbrellas in.
“We are still planning to launch a new batch of sharing umbrellas in Hangzhou between June 27th to 29th,” said Zhao.
According to a report of a Zhejiang-based newspaper, there’s been a mixed response to the sharing umbrellas among citizens in Hangzhou.
Some female interviewees said the umbrellas were very convenient as bags, especially in the Summer, are often too small to hold them, and many weren’t willing to carry umbrellas with them all the time. The service was an answer to that problem.
One young man, surnamed Chen, also told the newspaper that the sharing umbrellas were very convenient. “They are great in emergencies if you forget to take an umbrella with you on a rainy day.”
However, not all citizens look kindly on the latest sharing service. One elderly man said the purpose of the service was simply to make money, although he admitted they’d be useful in an emergency. If they were illegally ‘parked’ on public property, they could spoil Hangzhou’s neat image, he said.
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily