Officials assigned to monitor street vendors known as “chengguan,” or city management, have seen their title become a slang word for “someone who uses excessive force to solve life’s problems.” As these officials continue to abuse and extort money from street vendors, angry citizens have spoken out on several Chinese microblogs. These blogs provide video and photo evidence of chengguans beating up a blind vendor and abusing a female vendor as her 2-year-old daughter looks on in tears. While government leaders and politicians are aware of the violence, no steps have been made to adjust the behavior of these chengguans. This is due in large part to the massive growth in these officials in past years. In 199, there were only 100 reported chengguans in Beijing, with close to 13,500 in 2011. Because many of these vendors are migrants that have no real permit to sell their products on the streets, they have no option but to endure the abuse. However, these chengguans have no actual authority to detain vendors for not having the proper permits. The iolence coming from the side of authority is starting to cause serious violence coming from random citizens on the street who associate any chengguan with the unnecessary beating of innocent street vendors. With anger growing on both sides, many are being injured, and even killed, as a response to the absurd and unwarranted abuse by thousands of chengguans.
4 Responses to Abuse of Street Vendors Causes Controversy
Problems between vendors in NYC and other urban areas in the US are hardly unknown – along with paying off police for a quiet life, there are disputes as to who “owns” which corner. I would be interested to know how street vendors survive in other developing countries (e.g., India, the Philippines) and whether there are strategies to lessen their vulnerability or to target chengguan (城管) to try to rein them in.
If the chengguan have no real authority to detain the vendors, then what can they do? It seems to me that “monitoring” is just a way for the government to allow them to actually get away with the extortion. I do not know much of the subject outside of your post, but it seems to me that one way to clear up the problem is to give them the power to enforce the permit law. There will still be corruption involved, but it seems that that there would be much less violence if the chengguan could just take the vendors who violate this law straight to prison.
As the response from the vendors increase to use microblogs and other internet resources, I wonder about their ability to protest given the government’s notorious censorship of controversial issues. Furthermore, though I agree that some form of permit law should be implemented or formal legal acknowledgement, given the number of vendors and chengguan on the streets and the historical precedent across Asia of illegal vendors, I do not foresee regulation occurring soon or with any sort of standardization.
It seems like the chengguan will receive no help with this abuse. Because they don’t have the proper papers and are mostly immigrants, I don’t see the government taking the side of them against the officials.