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