The Nanfang / Blog


Chengguan in Guangzhou to become even scarier

Posted: 08/28/2013 3:54 pm

Violence involving China’s Urban Administrators, known colloquially as chengguan, has been one of the most controversial issues in China in recent years.

Stories such as the man who was beaten up by chengguan in front of his 9 year-old daughter contribute to their vilification.

However, the public was urged to show some sympathy when a chengguan was stabbed seven times by a peddler in Guangzhou’s Tianhe District in March and no bystanders came to his aid.

Guangzhou’s latest move may help chengguan do their job better while staying safe, but it is unlikely to humanise them. People reports they are about to get a big upgrade in their equipment that will make them resemble Robocop.

The all-new Robo-Chengguan, image courtesy of Guangzhou Daily

The city’s chengguan are set to be provided with a protective vest that is both stab and bullet proof; 2mm protective gloves that are both fireproof and stab proof; digitally encrypted walkie talkies and a camera around their neck that can film for 12 hours without running out of battery.

A representative of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau stressed that the upgrade was simply to improve the chengguan‘s safety rather than to make them more of a threat. One wonders if the constantly-on camera will ever be used in cases of chengguan overreach.

However, while the new equipment will make the chengguan more intimidating, it may also make them less mobile, as all this fancy equipment is not light.

Another reason why giving chengguan too much power may raise ethical issues is that, because no ambitious young police officer dreams of simply walking the streets telling peddlers to move along, chengguan work is often outsourced to members of the public with minimal police training.

This proved particularly problematic last year when it was discovered that authorities in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District had been outsourcing chengguan work to members of the criminal underworld.

Homepage image from Caixin

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