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Urban managers feel the squeeze
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08:42, April 10, 2009

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Officials responsible for clamping down on activities in city streets, including illegal vendors, have found themselves the ones being clamped down upon.

The tougher regulations on urban management officials, called chengguan, were announced by the municipal administration of urban management yesterday.

They are responsible for overseeing streets and other public places.

The new regulations prohibit officials from accepting bribes, drinking and driving, drinking at work, violently enforcing the law, gambling or privately confiscating articles. Any official violating the regulations will be punished, or even fired.

"Most of the time, they must drive away street vendors who don't have business permits," said Li Tinggui, director of the Guangzhou administration of urban management. "So a lot of disputes, even violent disputes, have occurred between urban management officials and street vendors. The work of chengguan has become very controversial."

According to police statistics, there are about 600 cases of violent disputes a year between illegal street vendors and chengguan. Su Zequn, the vice mayor of Guangzhou, earlier this year urged officials to enforce the law politely and to respect street vendors.

However, Su said the problem of illegal street vendors must be solved.

"Guangzhou is a big city with millions of migrants from different parts of the country," he said. "If all those people set up stalls and sold goods in Guangzhou's streets and lanes, the city would be like a flea market."

Li said the work of chengguan is very challenging.

"Some street vendors repeatedly violate the law. On the other hand, urban management officials have to fulfil their responsibilities," he said. "Officials should learn negotiation skills."

Last month, the city government of Guangzhou approved the establishment of law enforcement teams on every street in the city.

Source: China Daily

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