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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


Netizens outraged as chengguan beat mother in front of 2-year old child in Guangzhou

Posted: 03/7/2013 3:43 pm

China’s outspoken netizens have reacted in horror to the heavy-handed nature of Guangzhou’s chengguan, who were caught on tape punishing a street vendor in front of the woman’s 2-year old child.

Photos of the incident have appeared online, showing the woman being assaulted by the officers. The whole incident leaves the two-year-old in some distress on the side of the road.

The chengguan are notorious for their brute force. Their role is quite vast, and includes tackling low-level crime and enforcing city edicts. As this incident demonstrates, they – in their eyes – are just tidying up the streets.

The picture timeline shows the woman wrestling with officials, and subsequently leaving her to console her daughter after the traumatic episode for the child, leading to a picture caption of: “Sorry, mom cannot hold you in arms.” Then the mother is taken away.

At the outset, the handling looks over-the-top, but it only tells part of the story, as South China Morning Post’s Ernest Kao writes:

According to an article in the Daily, the vendor’s husband rushed to the scene and demanded an explanation. His request was ignored by Guangzhou’s urban management authorities.

They denied “grabbing” the woman’s neck and said they were only following proper procedures for hawker-control. They said that after the woman refused to leave, she started yelling and even hit them. The officials called the police, according to the article.

Here’s a round up of reaction gathered by Offbeat China:

于建嵘, famous sociologist, commented: “She is a street vendor who tries to make a living with her kid. She may have violated certain regulations in this big city. She may have pissed these God-like Chengguan officers. But may I ask you [Chengguan] to not to bully her in front of her kid? I ask you to loosen her up. The frightened kid needs her comforting.”

郑渊洁, popular kid story writer, asked: “Since when did we become a country that ignores the existence of kids? Shouldn’t we pay attention to the psychological impact on minors during law enforcement efforts?”

郑渊洁 isn’t the only one who questions the environment that this fast growing country has created for its children. Netizen 老衲不老518 asked: “My only thought is that whether this kid, when grow up, will think about killing a few Chengguan.”

Even the mainstream media have attacked the behaviour of the chengguan:

The Beijing News commented: “Please remember this frightened kid on Guangzhou street. The kid doesn’t know what law is, but she knows that her mom has been bullied. Law enforcement shouldn’t cross the bottom line of humanity, shouldn’t crush the dignity of a mom. A country that fails to mange its Chengguan team owes a lot to this kid.”


H/T: Offbeat China

Image: Nanfang Daily

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