Food vendors close shop for ‘civilized district’ contest

The number of peddlers, snack shops and restaurants open for business in Beijing’s Chaoyang district appeared to dwindle on Monday, a rumored side effect of an ongoing “civilized district” competition that is also targeting unlicensed vendors.

“All Chaoyang street vendors are not allowed to do business during the day from July 4 to 8, while the district is under investigation by the Capital Spiritual Civilization Construction Commission Office,” a Web user dubbed hongjiuzhongdeyan posted to Weibo after failing to find a breakfast vendor on Monday.

At a crossroads in Chaoyang district, three shops – two food stores and a hair salon – were closed on Monday.

“We stopped operations from Monday to Friday this week,” an anonymous employee of one food store told the Global Times. However, their temporary closure was for renovations, he said.

The campaign appears to go beyond just closing shops for inspection. The owner of a restaurant selling southern snacks near Dajiaoting Bridge claimed that he spent 3,000 yuan ($464.12) of his own money to replace the store’s name with a billboard bearing Chaoyang district’s slogan, “Civilized Chaoyang, Magnificent with Me.” It wasn’t his idea.

“We were required by the government to use our own money to advertise their campaign,” he told the Global Times.

An anonymous Chaoyang official involved in the “civilized district” campaign told the Global Times on Monday that the government is not specifically doing anything different to control unlicensed vendors for the investigation.

“This is the government’s routine work. We’ve made a lot of effort to improve order in the district since April, and we’ve just intensified our work to regulate unlicensed vendors,” he said.

“The ‘civilized district’ competition is held every three years. Dongcheng and Xicheng have both held the title for the past three years, while Chaoyang is still trying to win,” the official explained.

Dongcheng district appeared to be undergoing the same investigation period last week, the Global Times observed. That week, food and snack stores there did not even open their doors for lunch.

Source: Global Times

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