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The two sides of China's 'coin bucket' challenge

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-04 16:42

CHANGCHUN -- What would you do if a bucket of coins were placed right in front you? In China, the "coin bucket challenge" has caused quite a stir.

Such coin buckets full of one yuan coins (1 yuan equals 15 US cents) have popped up in front of subway stations, and on overpasses and walking streets in many cities in China. A billboard is placed beside the bucket, which reads: Help yourself if in need, but take no more than 5 yuan.

According to the National Business Daily, a coin bucket was recently placed in a subway station near one of the busiest streets in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province. A hidden camera captured what happened.

Some people took pictures of the scene and uploaded them online, some hesitated before taking the coins, and others used the opportunity to educate their child.

The internet is sharply divided on the challenge.

"I saw the 'test' at the subway station and nobody took any coins," read a comment on microblog Sina Weibo. "Maybe that is because people's lives are changing for the better."

"I think it's great," said another Weibo user. "When you have no change for the bus, you can change your big notes into coins."

But many people remain suspicious, calling the challenge "meaningless" because it is not "scientific."

"The idea of observing people's reactions to the buckets is, in itself, evil," read one comment.

"A camera is placed in the vicinity, so who would dare to steal anything?"

"What would happen if the coins were changed into 100-yuan notes?"

While the public remain divided over the challenge, another report has suggested it is just a marketing gimmick, clickbait.

According to the Chengdu Economic Daily, a technology company began the event and posted the story to attract more followers to its WeChat account.

Gao Zhuancheng, with the sociology research institute at Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said that the challenge is too simple to say anything about morality.

"Rather than testing people's desire for money, I think it is more of a test of people's trust for each other," Gao said. "What if it is a trap? People are doubtful about it because few will voluntarily try something unknown in public."

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