Another day, another street vendor vs chengguan (城管) brawl. Last night around 7pm in Putuo District, Shanghai, an unmarked van rolled up on a group of unlicensed street vendors working near the corner of Ningxia Road and Kaixuan Road. After the van stopped near the corner, 10 men jumped out and then began attacking the vendors in an attempt to get them to disperse. Several people were injured (including some of the attackers) and sent to the hospital, where they remain in a stable condition.
The men from the van were described as “urban management volunteers”, though it seems a bit odd that anyone would “volunteer” to stomp skulls. What relation the men have to the actual chengguan remains unclear, but perhaps by claiming the title of “volunteer” instead of chengguan, Shanghai is looking to avoid a repeat of the riot that happened in Songjiang district earlier this year, or more recent riots in Guizhou and Zengcheng. All of which of course occurred due to the perceived heavy-handedness of the chengguan.
Shanghai has recently stepped up its efforts to ban unlicensed roadside vendors by enacting legislation required licenses starting September 1st. With the due date for licensure looming in the next two weeks, we suspect there may be many more sting operations similar to last night’s.
Will urban management volunteers become even more reviled than chengguan? We hope Shanghai doesn’t have to find out the answer to that question.