Category Archives: chengguan

“This Is How Urban Management Officers Roll”

Anthony Tao of Beijing Cream has a new blog post up here featuring a video of Chengguan officers harassing street vendors and stealing their wares set to music. Hatred of Chengguan is pervasive and growing in China, in large part due to abuses like these:

Now, I’m not saying all street enforcement officers are terrible at their job. Surely sometimes they’re necessary, like to tell people not to park on the street. (I’ve never seen a chengguan actually do this, by the way, but I’m sure they would if the driver was some poor street vendor who makes 15 dollars a day.) It’s just that it’s so easy to find instances of chengguan behaving badly that one wonders whether something isn’t wrong with the system rather than the individuals. Specifically, a system which dresses up bullies and tells them to wreck havoc on some of the most defenseless (and perhaps among the hardest workers) of our society.

It surely is a systemic problem, arising because chengguan are propped up by the position they enjoy as police officers in what amounts to a quasi-police state. That’s what makes the bullies among them so pathetic, too- the Communist Party has set up a police state to keep itself in power, and it’s entirely uninterested in squabbles between vegetable sellers and the worthless predatory police who bother them. They merely get away with this because the law and the courts have been neutered to protect the police above them, the Special Police and People’s Armed Police and so forth who are actually tasked with keeping the regime in power.

In all my time in China, street vendors have been some of the friendliest people I’ve met. They work very hard for very little money, and frequently live in pretty appalling conditions. They don’t need this, and China doesn’t need chengguan if this is the best they can do.

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“Dumplings for Sale”

Ethnographer Tricia Wang lived with a migrant worker family for a week and wrote about it- if you only read one China-related thing this year, this should probably be it:

It’s 4am. Children’s footsteps patter outside, water pours from a faucet, pots are pulled out. I overhear Li Jie. “We barely have enough to buy meat for tonight’s dinner. I hope we have return customers today.”

I’ve been living with Li Jie and her family for a few days. She is one of the 200-300 million rural people who have made their way to cities in the hope… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Usually newspapers finish it with “in the hope of a better life” or “in the hope of securing a job.” Maybe I can finish it by the time I tell you about a day in Li Jie’s life.

By 4.30am, we are eating breakfast crackers and drinking soda. It’s so hot during the day that it’s refreshing to wake up to breathable air. Li Jie’s husband, Mr. Long, and her younger brother, Ray, are putting the batteries into the bike carts to go to the market. The men leave before 5am.

I stay with Li Jie and her son. We take the dumplings out of the freezer and for the second day in a row they’re sticky. Everything that needs to be kept cold is put inside the freezer, but it’s unpredictable. Sometimes it works too well and the beers explode. Most of the time it doesn’t work that well. The dumplings get sticky and uncookable while the beers are perfectly chilled.

Read the rest, if only to understand where all that delicious street food comes from, and what the people who make it have to live through.

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Filed under chengguan, migrant workers

“Jinan Protest Triggers Police Response”

From Caixin, another of what almost feels like a daily flood of protests and chengguan battles:

Over 500 people protested the beating of an elderly vendor in Jinan, Shandong Province after a blogger posted a message reporting that a prison officer and her husband beat a woman in the street. The prison officer and her husband were sentenced to a 15-day detention for causing injuries to the elderly woman, according to the local public security bureau.

According to a local news outlet, the uniformed female officer, named Lin, was having a dispute with a street vendor, named Xie, the owner of a bike repair station, after a disagreement broke out among those waiting in line to have bikes repaired.

According to a local news outlet, the uniformed female officer, named Lin, was having a dispute with a street vendor, named Xie, the owner of a bike repair station, after a disagreement broke out among those waiting in line to have bikes repaired.

Lin called her husband, Zhu, who arrived at the scene a few minutes following the argument. The couple then beat and injured Xie and his spouse in a fight, immediately sparking the outrage of around 500 passers-by who gathered to protest against the actions of the prison guard.

The size of the crowd hindered police officers from responding to the dispute in removing the attackers from the scene of the incident as the crowd blocked the traffic for a few hours.

You’d think that chengguan central commands all over China would be urging their officers to tread lightly, but they seem to be doing the opposite. It’s good to see Chinese people standing together to oppose them more frequently.

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“Excessive Force by China’s Street Police Triggers Outburst”

The Epoch Times has more on the riot in Guizhou last week, including this part about how social media is changing how the game is played here:

Wang Keqin, a well-known investigative reporter, followed developments closely. He referred to parts of an article in the Oriental Morning Post that had been deleted by censors. Someone in the crowd had said, in part: “It’s like a submachine gun. … I was not far from the bullets. When I saw him loading the gun, I thought they were loading the gun to shoot up in the air. I didn’t expect them to shoot people. Do you know? I didn’t expect that the first shot was firing toward us. We started to run.”

Liu Wei, a human rights lawyer, is recorded by Radio Free Asia (RFA) as saying: “The incident has grown bigger and bigger. It is out of control now. There were constantly sounds of gunshots at the scene, and tear gas is everywhere. It’s reported that anti-riot police tossed smoke grenades to disperse the crowd, and fired on them. Many people were injured or even killed. Now the streets are blocked by police. … Cleaning cars are cleaning the blood off the road.”

“There were so many onlookers,” wrote one user of Sina Weibo. “Blood and dead bodies were everywhere. The riot police rushed to the sidewalk. … The riot police kept on rushing to the sidewalk, and onlookers almost knocked me to the ground. The street-side stone bench was covered in blood; there were two corpses on the road.”

Recently, Chinese users of social media are reporting more aggressively on events that show the regime in a bad light, such as the riot in Anshun or the Wenzhou train crash. This, along with the proliferation of access to these technologies, is particularly concerning to Party apparatchiks, according to Zhong Weiguang, a Chinese dissident and commentator who now lives in Germany.

“This is coming out more and more now because of the Internet and Weibo,” Zhong said in a telephone interview. As connectivity among the population increases, people are able to see that individual phenomena are not isolated. At the same time, he said, “The conflicts that allow these things to happen are becoming more and more common, and the methods the regime is using are becoming more and more gangster-like.”

This is why I think the local/nation disconnect that has shielded Beijing from criticism over the last few decades is becoming a thing of the past. It’s one thing when there’s an altercation in your hometown, it’s another thing when the internet allows you to see altercations in every town across China. Riot police use the same tactics, have the same relationship with local politicians who are themselves connected to provincial politicians who form bases of support for politicians in Beijing. When Beijing can see these problems happening and chooses not to intervene, but instead to reward local politicians who use force to maintain ‘stability,’ it becomes obvious that Beijing isn’t some powerless bystander. The way Chinese citizens view their relationship with Beijing is inevitably going to change while this phenomenon continues.

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Filed under chengguan, China, local governments, riots