Shandong taxi driver shows city's progress

By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan | (China Daily )| Updated : 2018-11-13

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Jiang Min

40 Years On | People

Jiang Min, who has been working as a taxi driver for more than two decades, says her driving business has been gearing up smoothly as more people use taxis and traffic conditions improve.

Jiang, who was born in Weihai, a coastal city in Shandong province, said her life is closely related to China's reform and opening-up, which was launched in 1978, her birth year.

"Reform and opening-up has been like a fast lane that has boosted both my life and my business," she said.

In 1990, two years before the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea, two of their cities - Incheon, on the South Korean coast, and Weihai - opened the first Chinese shipping service carrying both passengers and goods. Then the airlines between Weihai and Incheon began operating in 2005. Those moves brought increasing numbers of foreigners to Weihai, providing a good business for Jiang.

Jiang's memories about her first foreign passenger are still fresh. It was 1997 and she picked up a businessman who had arrived at Weihai port by ship from South Korea.

"We couldn't understand each other, as he didn't speak Chinese and I couldn't speak any English or Korean. With gestures, I finally took him to his destination," she said. "But now I can speak several languages, including Chinese, English and Korean."

Jiang was delighted to see that taxis have changed from being a luxury to an ordinary means of travel.

"Around 2000, those who took taxis were mainly businessmen, but now tourists and local people are the bulk of taxi customers," she said.

In September, Jiang took a passenger to Sunjiatan village in Weihai. The ride only took her a little over 10 minutes, thanks to the tunnels and roads along the coastline.

"Years before, it took me around 40 minutes from the urban area to Sunjiatan village," she said.

She recalled that there were only a few buses and no taxis when she was a child, and even in the late 1980s there were few wide roads.

"Transportation facilities have been upgraded over the past 20 years, which has made my driving business go better," she said.

Over the past 20 years, Jiang has changed cars four times to make her guests more comfortable.

Her husband is also a taxi driver and they take turns on the day and night shifts. With hard work, they paid off their mortgage. Last year, they spent nearly 200,000 yuan buying a car.

"Working as a taxi driver won't make me rich, but I feel happy," Jiang said.

She said she will continue working as a taxi driver not only because she loves this job but because she feels her role is changing.

"I have been watching the city change over the past 20 years. My husband and I feel we are not only drivers but a sort of mobile calling card that can showcase Weihai's image to tourists.

"What we say and our behavior represent Weihai," Jiang said. "I feel proud when I hear my passengers say something good about Weihai, like how good the environment is and how nice its people are."