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June 9, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Foreigners air complaints in survey

AIR quality is the aspect of Shanghai life that foreigners like least, a new survey shows.

Other gripes include poor communications from airlines over flight delays; a lack of bilingual services in hospitals, stores, banks and government offices; and poor English translations on street signs.

The city's top political advisory body gathered the impressions in a survey taken last November of foreign business people. The results were released on Monday.

Respondents were asked to mark 37 items in the areas of service, culture and leisure, transportation, social environment, education, food and drink, communication, public service, urban environment and plans to visit the World Expo.

Air quality received the lowest score among all 37 items.

Members from the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who conducted the survey, noted that the research was carried out before the World Expo, while the city was undergoing intense construction to get ready for the massive event.

"Foreigners said flying dirt from construction sites is an important cause tarnishing local air quality and they long for a better and clearer sky after the event opens," the survey said.

"They are also unsatisfied with poor hygiene in some places and complained about rubbish laid outdoors and people throwing rubbish from their cars," it said.

Officials from Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said yesterday foreigners usually come from countries with much better air quality. They said the city is working hard to improve air quality and the nation is issuing stricter regulations.

In the survey, most foreigners said signals and call quality of cell phones were good, but they got too many junk messages on their phone, which feed worries about privacy protection.

They don't like the slow speed of the Internet and the poor availability of Wi-Fi in the city, according to the survey.

Most respondents to the survey praised the security in Shanghai, the warmth of the people, and service. The state of big hotels rated the survey's only "excellent" rating because of their good and international management and advanced facilities.

Respondents said Shanghai is an international city, with good shopping and a wide choice of food. But they said imported food was expensive and service workers were not good at English and not very polite.

They complained that overseas banks had too few outlets and the queues in Chinese banks were too long.

Foreigners had suggestions for improvements: Drivers and pedestrians should politely give way, bus drivers should drive more conservatively, construction trucks should be forbidden to turn right on a red light, and city maps should be updated from time to time and distributed free at the two airports during the Expo.

They also look forward to the introduction of drinkable tap water and would welcome a channel for complaints about noise and night construction.

A total of 335 foreigners participated the survey, which was supported by commerce chambers and some foreign business associations.

About half the respondents were from US companies, 28 percent from European companies and 21 percent from Japanese companies. The average age of the respondents was 43 and the average length of time in the city was over four years.


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