The State Council approved a plan on Wednesday to waive toll fees for passenger cars on four important national holidays such as the Spring Festival and National Day. This is a vital step for China in reducing its highway tolls.
For a long time, China's public has shown a great deal of discontent with highway tolls. Many have tried to prove that China's highway tolls are unreasonable by comparing them with free or cheap highways in the West. The State Council's plan shows its positive response to public opinion.
Some people have already calculated that billions of yuan in tolls are charged during the four holidays.
The plan shows strong determination. But China cannot waive all the tolls in one go. The country is still in the process of building a modern transport network, and highway tolls are one of the core driving forces for sustaining this development. China's highway construction is booming. Only when the construction process passes peak period can highway toll charges in China match those in developed countries.
The quantity and quality of highways in China are close to that in the US. It means China has stepped into the ranks of the world's best in this respect. Developing countries such as India and Vietnam have very few highways.
The topic of tolls, which the Chinese heatedly discuss, is one that is exclusive to developed countries. But China is not a developed country where toll fees are usually low.
The dissatisfaction of the public with society today comes as a result of making demands of ourselves using Western standards. China has been moving toward these standards, while the public questions why it cannot move faster. The issue of highway tolls reflects the fact that Chinese people still need to pay for the services they get. They cannot simply enjoy a high-standard service for free after paying taxes to the State. China's situation does not fit such a high quality of social welfare.
Low income earners who own a car are more concerned about the tolls. If the tolls are fully waived when the highway operation companies still owe banks billions of yuan in loans, it is not the rich who will subsidize the poor. But instead, people without cars will have to pay back the loans and subsidize those with cars.
China has come a long way from where it started. The confusion in society today may seem rare compared to even just 10 years ago, but it still brings pain to society. China can only struggle to move forward.
Criticism dominates society. Even after the government does make progress, it will still be blamed for its shortcomings. This is not how it used to be. Feelings and attitudes toward the country's improvements are changing. People hold a critical rather than joyful view of social development.
Some people think this is change to be grateful for. History will prove if this is true.