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Chinese Pedestrians Have No Problem Obeying Laowai Traffic Warden

Posted: 09/19/2014 9:15 am

expat traffic warden zhuzhou henan chengguan

A 21 year-old expat from the UK named Leah has become Henan’s newest pedestrian traffic warden responsible for herding pedestrians in the city of Zhuzhou and ensuring traffic laws are maintained, reports Yangtse.

Like many cities, Zhuzhou has a problem with pedestrians that don’t follow signals at intersections and end up congesting traffic — and it may have found its solution in Leah.

Though Leah has only a limited grasp of the Chinese language, her “foreignness” compels city residents to follow her command where they would normally ignore their fellow countryman.

Leah and her friend Ewan recently graduated from university and had been in Zhuzhou looking for work as English teachers for a month. After being hired as a warden, Leah immediately went to task memorizing the important phrases of her job. So far, she can only say things like:

  • “Hello, please be aware and abide by traffic regulations.”
  • “Please be aware and comply with civilized etiquette.”
  • “I love Zhuzhou, and I hope we can both make this city into a beautiful place.”

At first blush, perhaps it would seem unlikely for a Chinese person to follow the commands of a foreigner that can’t converse in Chinese nor is intimately familiar with its local customs. However, an unnamed resident sums up why they listen to her:

As there are international friends present, how can we (residents) illegally cross the road without feeling any shame?

The societal construct the Zhuzhou chengguan is employing is “face”, the need to maintain respect from others. If a Zhuzhou pedestrian were to illegally run a red light in the presence of “normal” Chinese chengguan, they wouldn’t risk losing face as much because they wouldn’t care about the reaction.

However, if this was done in the presence of Leah, a foreigner, the Chinese would risk losing face to the entire outside world she represents. Furthermore, the face lost wouldn’t just be his or her own, but the entire country, which the offender represents.

I mean, just what would Leah think? Of China, no less.

expat traffic warden zhuzhou henan chengguan

Photo: Yangtse


Guangdong to License Streetside Food Vendors

Posted: 07/16/2014 10:47 pm

food vendorLegislation is being proposed in Guangdong Province to give legal rights to streetside food vendors that are currently unlicensed, reports Shanghai Daily. Under the new guidelines, streetside food vendors will be allowed to operate their businesses in specific areas at designated times.

While vendors will be allowed to apply for a license free of charge, it will be the government that will determine where and when they can do business.

READ: Trial System to License Guangdong Street Peddlers
Will Make Street Food “Safer”

Street vendors operating outside authorized zones and times will still be breaking the law. Furthermore, the new legislation only covers street vendors that sell food.

China’s current laws do not cover streetside food vendors because their businesses are deemed to be too small. Besides not being legally recognized, these food vendors are unregulated and aren’t inspected by any public health authority.

Conflicts between street vendors and chengguan, known as the municipal authority that enforces laws against the vendors, are a regular occurrence.

food vendor


Photo: BJCG, hinnews


Armed Police to Keep Foshan Gaokao Exams Quiet From Dancing Grannies [UPDATE]

Posted: 06/5/2014 3:03 pm

granny dancing disturbanceExaminations for high school students applying to enter university, colloquially termed the “gaokao”,have  recently gotten some unexpected support. A representative for gaokao enrollment for Foshan states that every gaokao examination in the city will be accompanied by armed police officers, reports the Southern Metropolis Daily.

As students take the examination, they will be accompanied by two police officers with guns that will be stationed at every examination room. Furthermore, armed police will patrol the perimeter of the examination sites and investigate anything within a distance of 200 meters.

READ: Student in Guangzhou Stabbed in Throat Just After Completing the Gaokao

This may seem excessive as gaokao examinations can be counted upon to be the most quiet of places that would ever be the site of a disturbance, but that’s actually the point: Police may sent to the gaokao exams for the purpose of preserving the peace, literally.

Over in Fengtai District in Beijing, chengguan had given a written proposal to the “dancing aunties” that dance in a plaza located next to the No.12 Middle School. The chenguan, otherwise known as city management workers with a bad public reputation, had requested the “dancing aunties” stop playing loud music in the square and dancing so as not to disturb the 400 students preparing for the gaokao .

READ: Netizens Outraged as Chengguan Beat Mother in Front of
2 Year-old Child in Guangzhou

The proposal was rejected. The dancing grannies, estimated at two to three hundred strong, continued to dance once the chengguan had left.

“Dancing grannies” have been a formidable force in Chinese society that many residents have taken offense against. “Dancing grannies” are known for disturbing of the public with the loud music played during their dancing, and have come to prominence with a picture of them performing in the square in front of the Louvre.

Locally, the issue of “dancing grannies” had come to light recently when the mayor of Sydney expressed interest in the activity during a visit to Guangzhou, to which an overwhelming majority of Chinese netizens responded with “Take them all, please.

READ: Mayor of Sydney Interested in Importing China’s “Granny Dancing”

We imagine that armed police will be able to help preserve the peace at a gaokao examination, and perhaps by being armed, police will be able to win any arguments had against “dancing grannies”.

UPDATE 3:30pm, June 5, 2014: It’s become official: Shenzhen has now put noise restrictions upon any area within 500 meters of an examination site during this weekend, and during the upcoming senior high school examinations taking place on June 21 and 22.

While dancing grannies may be affected, the noise ban seems to be more directed at construction sites, putting a RMB 30,000 fine on any site that violates the regulations.


Photos: Xinhua, the Nanfang


Another Brutal Dog Killing, This Time at a Shelter in Hangzhou

Posted: 05/28/2014 4:45 pm

Only days after we broke the story of a brutal beating of a dog in Beijing in broad daylight, another horrific dog killing story has surfaced in Hangzhou. This time, nobody’s pet was beaten in front of the owner, but it’s just as sickening.

An urban management officer (otherwise known as chengguan) collected a mother and seven pups from a market in Hangzhou after the owner complained the mother had become more vicious after giving birth. The officer took the dogs to the animal shelter to have them put down. In order to deal with the newborn pups, a middle-aged staffer at the shelter lifted the pups into the air one-by-one and threw them down with tremendous force to kill them, all in full view of the mother. Some were so young they were unable to open their eyes.

The Chinese internet obviously became outraged after the photos surfaced. SCMP has translated a few comments:

“If the mother dog should be killed for hurting a man, what should we do to the man that has killed seven puppies?” wrote one microblogger.

“It’s not a stray dog shelter, but a slaughter house!” another wrote.

An animal welfare association based in Hangzhou said many stray dogs were treated cruelly when they were sent to be “controlled” by the relevant government departments.

It said: “The city administration and law enforcement bureau should make public how you “control” the stray dogs … by ‘control’ do you mean all stray dogs should be killed?”

This is just the latest case of extreme animal abuse in China, and one wonders what needs to happen before dogs are dealt with humanely.

Trevor Metz, who previously owned “One-eyed Jack” before he was beaten to death in Beijing, said confiscating unregistered pets is not the problem; rather, the issue lies in dealing with the pets in a humane way after they are confiscated.

One hopes the authorities in China take his advice.

Home page photo credit: SCMP


Dog Beaten to Death in Beijing in Front of Foreign Owner

Posted: 05/26/2014 9:31 am

As far as ugly stories go, this is one of the ugliest.

A person in a front office position with a high-profile school in Beijing found himself witnessing the deadly beating of his own dog, in broad daylight, on the streets of Beijing on Saturday as he was taking the dog for a walk.

Known as “One-eyed Jack” (it was missing an eye already), the dog had been taken care of by Trevor Metz of renowned Beijing burger bar Plan B in Shuangjing for “three to four months”. Metz had already taken in a couple of other dogs – all with proper registration – so found a loving home for ol’ Jack.

That’s when the story took an ugly turn. I’ll let Jack’s owner explain what happened on Saturday, in his own words:

I’d taken the dog out early Saturday morning. I usually take him on a path in the compound where there’s some garden and space for him to do his business. I took him further this time because he hadn’t been out since the early evening on Friday. After about 10 minutes of walking, I spotted 3 guys by the roadside, who approached me and stopped me. Two of them were wearing Chengguan uniforms, and one was in plain clothes. One of them asked to see the dog’s registration photo ID card thing, and I told them I had only had him a very short time and that I was in the process of getting it. I offered to show them his vaccinations, and the info I’d gathered on registration.

He told me he didn’t care about any of that, and that if I didn’t have the ID card for him they were going to take him right now. You know the dog wasn’t keen on strange men, and he was getting fidgety. I insisted that it was all being done and that he was safe, vaccinated and always kept on the leash. He started to get angry with me and told me I was out of order. I’m not exactly a picture of calmness myself when faced with surly idiots who are wasting my time, and I argued back. He told me he was gonna get me in big trouble for not having the proper documents. I told him I was gonna walk on and there was nothing he could do while I was still getting my documents sorted. I started to walk forward, the dog growled at them and let out one bark. The guy pushed me back and one of the others grabbed the leash from me. They had some kind of baton with them and they whacked the dog over the head so hard he barely yelped, he just fell down. I protested and went to shield him but the other guy pushed me back while they beat the dog 3 more times. They bundled him into some black backpack, and got into an unmarked car (looked like one of the heiche cars, wasn’t an official chengguan car). They drove off and left me there.

I’m pretty sure at least two of them were a bit drunk. Not very much so, but they had the red-faced “I’ve had baijiu” faces. And as I say, one of them was in plain clothes, and the car was unmarked.

It all just happened so fast…it was a massive blur. It was also raining, cloudy, polluted and muggy out there, it was hard to see things going on. I was just left there shouting at them trying to get a better look at the car as it left. It was a horrifying experience in so many ways. I mean…they just bludgeoned the dog without any provocation, and they looked absolutely crazy. A fear gripped me as I worried if they were going to whack me next as well and leave me there. I’ve seen some pretty messed up things in my life overseas, but the way these bastards flaunted their authority, savagely killed an innocent, sweet and gentle animal and acted threateningly to me without provocation…it made my skin crawl.

After speaking with police on Saturday, they told me that there was nothing they would do about it because the dog is not a registered pet, and therefore not legally anyone’s property. As a stray, they claim to have no ability to pursue action for the dog. At this point I just felt utterly frustrated, defeated and helpless. I also was consumed with guilt and sorrow. I’d taken the dog in to protect him from this very fate as chengguan or police may have combed the area around Shuangjing [a neighbourhood in Beijing] for strays and found him out there in the art street and taken him away. I fed him, took care of him and had him vaccinated as part of a journey to legitimacy that would protect him from such a fate. He was the most loving, affectionate and sweet dog that I’ve ever known. I also had some interest expressed from friends in adopting him permanently from me. I feel awful that despite my best intentions, this unspeakable thing happened to him. Sometimes it just hits me again, flashbacks of thinking of the sight of him falling to the ground as that barbarian whacked him. It makes me cry, it makes me feel sick. It’s disturbing my sleep and the feeling doesn’t go away easily.

Beijing has been known to be tough on dogs, and several crackdowns on illegal dogs have been implemented over the years. But this… this is beyond the pale.

RIP Jack. You’ll be missed.

(Note: Jack’s owner’s name is withheld at his request.)

One-Eyed Jack

Photo: courtesy owner of One-Eyed Jack



Guangdong Chengguan Compete for Geek Cred Against Google Glass

Posted: 04/23/2014 7:45 am

It’s quite literally a gadget face-off.

First, Jiang Yifan, a Changzhou chengguan (城管, or “city management officer”) in Jiangsu Province, touted his latest gear — Google Glass head wear— on Weibo. Then, Guangzhou chengguan fired back by brandishing a recording device that rivals Google Glass, but at only a tenth of its cost.

The mysterious “law enforcement recording device” used by the Guangzhou chengguan is the size of a brooch and can be pinned to the front of a guard’s uniform. Compared to the estimated RMB 10,000 cost of Google Glass, the equivalent made-in-China device only costs RMB 1,400. Moreover, it is equipped with a recording camera and a charger, Yangcheng Evening News reported on April 22.

The mysterious recording device used by Guangzhou chengguan. Photo credit: Yangcheng Evning News

“Compared with Google Glass, our law enforcement recording device is easier to operate and lightweight,” said one chengguan who claimed to have used the device.

Google Glass, a wearable computer, boasts a hands-free function where a wearer can record or take photos by blinking or through the use of voice command. According to the Guangzhou chengguan, their device also features a hand-free function. An urban guard can press the device’s button and record a scene while still engaging his ongoing task. (Which doesn’t sound ‘hands-free’ to us.)

Despite the competition for tech superiority, the chengguan in the two cities both agreed the use of such high-tech devices (if the unknown made-in-China one is able to qualify for such a title) will better help them deal with often violent incidents between chengguan and street vendors. More importantly, it may serve to dispel accusations of the chengguan’s propensity towards brutality and violence.

The latest such violent confrontation took place in Cangnan, Zhejiang Province. The clash on Saturday is said to have injured six when the crowds retaliated on chengguan after seeing the officers violently beating an onlooker when the officers’ requests of asking the onlooker to stop filming were turned down.

It is not known if the chengguan in that incident were wearing a Google Glass device or its Chinese equivalent, nor if they were able to operate its hands-free feature when they were getting their asses handed to them.

Home page photo: Chengguan Jiang Yifan wears the Google Glass patrolling the streets.

Photo credit: Jiangsu Net 


Demolition Begins on Hidden Forest House in Guangzhou

Posted: 04/17/2014 10:23 am

guangzhou illegal structure penthouse treehouse tianhe demolition extra stories“Clear-cutting” has begun on the forest built on top of a Guangzhou apartment building to hide illegally-constructed floors. Local chengguan and the owner of what has been called “Guangzhou’s most ‘niu’ illegal building” have reached an agreement to start demolition on the treehouse penthouse, Nanfang Daily reported.

We’re trying to imagine just what kind of negotiation took place as a source with the chengguan revealed the legality of the building was never actually determined. Instead, demolition was initiated since the owner was anxious Guangzhou residents couldn’t see the virtual forest for the trees.

guangzhou illegal structure penthouse treehouse tianhe demolition extra stories

In a move that may further deter the promotion of Shenzhen rooftops as a green space, we note with bemusement that the colloquial name given by the Chinese press to this apartment is “big green hat”. For those who have never been on the receiving end of this insult, “wearing a green hat” is the Chinese euphemism for  a “cuckold”.

Located in North Haitangge Neighborhood of Tianhe District, we imagine Poison Ivy is currently cursing at the Caped Crusader and is plotting from another secret lair, perhaps from the rooftop temple located in Shenzhen.


Photos: Nanfang Daily, ChinaNews via bzcm


Guy Builds a Forest on a Guangzhou Apartment Building to Hide Illegal Floors

Posted: 04/14/2014 1:12 pm

roof garden hidden building guangzhou penthouse

In this environmentally-friendly age we’re often urged to consider the needs of Mother Nature before our own comforts; however, one Guangzhou resident had an ulterior motive to “thinking green” when he used foliage and trees to allegedly hide two illegally-built floors atop his penthouse apartment.

A rooftop villa on Guangzhou Linhe East Road in the Haitangge neighborhood is suspected of trying to camouflage its illegal structures by completely covering them with green paint, vines and shrubbery.

Chengguan that visited the exterior of the structure said the additional floors may cause cracking of the structure below.

The reporting of illegal rooftop structures in China have shown a pent-up desire for residential expansion. Twelve illegal rooftop buildings have been reported in Guiyang, Guizhou province of which four can be seen here and includes one that looks like a castle.

Shenzhen has had its own case of penthouse growing pains when local media reported that a Nanshan District penthouse apartment had constructed a temple on its roof and was being investigated by city authorities.

The most widely reported case would be the illegal rooftop terrace in Beijing that was recently demolished. Extensively decorated with trees, shrubbery and fake rock over 800 square meters, owner Zhang Biqing was initially given the order to dismantle it within 15 days, but required four months before demolition was complete.

Zhang said he became ill after his “garden” was exposed and remains in poor health. Stating he often has nightmares, Zhang said,

“My family members prevent me from reading news and don’t even allow me to watch TV. I am not coming back to Beijing in the near future because I am worried that I couldn’t bear to see that my garden is gone.”

With such an adverse effect upon inspired rooftop enthusiasts, it appears there is a literal ceiling that caps all dreamers from reaching out to the stars, one floor at a time. Hopefully these cases do not signify a real estate grab that would prematurely end Shenzhen’s plans for rooftop gardening.


Photos: 163


Trial System to License Guangdong Street Peddlers Will Make Street Food “Safer”

Posted: 04/9/2014 5:28 pm

Outside of a cab and walking the streets of Guangzhou or Shenzhen, you may have come across the alluring aromas of street food sold by your friendly neighborhood peddler or hawker. From the crackle of hot oil that promises a satisfying crunch, you are sorely tempted to partake in roadside deliciousness, but decide instead to decline. After all, how can you be sure that these streetside peddlers are safe to eat from?

Now, you can. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) released a statement on April 8 that they will be looking to start a trial system of providing licenses to street peddlers and hawkers, China News reports. This move is seen as timely since Guangzhou has recently been promoting its car-free pedestrian zone that is well-populated with peddlers trying to sell you things you did not know you need to buy.

However, the term “licensed” does not necessarily refer to adhering to health regulations. The big news for these peddlers and hawkers is that they will be “safe” from the harassment of the chengguan, the practical administration of city bylaws that has all of the bullying from an authoritative force, but none of the responsibility. Basically, it’s the Miller Lite of police brutality.

Certification with a license would mean that local chengguan would recognize the legitimacy of the peddler’s business rather than try to forcibly remove them from the area. Chengguan have a bad reputation in China for using physical force to intimidate hawkers and street peddlers. Just today, news reports tell of a 70 year-old man who died during a confrontation with chengguan in Mawei, Fuzhou when he tried to mediate a compromise.

CPPCC representative Yang Ke sympathized with the plight of peddlers, and acknowledged that peddlers don’t see themselves as committing criminal acts that require the chengguan to police, but are rather just trying to make a living. Yang proposed a system similar to that of Manhattan, New York where streets are cordoned off on weekends to allow for street markets populated by many street peddlers, but with nary a chengguan in sight.

Roadside gourmands will be able to take their time, savor their food, and eat their street meat, “safe” from any chengguan interruptions.

Photo: China News


Weibo user posts photos of supposed riot in Shenzhen

Posted: 10/30/2013 7:00 am

A Sina Weibo user uploaded images of a riot he says took place in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District yesterday. The user @吴俊南123456 says up to 50 riot police were called in after a vendor was beaten up by chengguan. However, no established local media outlet has yet confirmed the claims.

According to a round-up in, it started when a group of chengguan beat up a vendor and were then surrounded by over 1,000 angry members of the public.

Riot police were then allegedly sent in to restore order. Here are some of the images that were uploaded:

The vendor who was allegedly beaten up by chengguan. The vendor is said to have been from Xinjiang

The chengguan are surrounded by angry passers-by

The riot police arrive

If all these claims are true, it will be a step backward in two very important relationships: that between chengguan and the public and that between Xinjiangese and the Han locals in the places they migrate to.

This month, Guangzhou enacted rules stipulating that Chengguan must show basic courtesy to people they meet. This was aimed at improving the image of the notoriously hated and feared law enforcers.

After weekend’s deadly car crash in Tiananmen Square, Uighur suspects are being sought in connection with the case. It has even been suggested that it may have been a suicide attack by Islamic separatists.

There is always plenty of tension between the Han and the Uighur bubbling just below the surface, as became evident in the Urumqi riots of 2009.

Baishizhou is one of Shenzhen’s most diverse areas. It has been written about extensively by local anthropologist and China-hand Maryann O’Donnell.

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