Beijingers name public order concerns

Illegal taxis, people passing out advertising fliers, pickpockets and drunken drivers top the list of Beijing residents’ public order concerns, according to a survey by the city’s police.

Bike thieves, street beggars, nuisance dogs and unlicensed street vendors follow closely, the survey reveals.

After polling 1 million people from April 28 to May 15, the survey found that bus and subway stations, Internet cafes, entertainment centers, farmers markets and bustling commercial areas are usually the places haunted by public order troubles.

Despite the problems, 97 percent of respondents considered public order in the capital acceptable, according to the survey.

Gao Yu, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security, was quoted by Saturday’s China Daily as saying that action would soon be taken to address these gnawing issues and follow-up surveys would be conducted to appraise the effectiveness of the measures.

Not everyone agrees with the survey’s findings.

A few micro-bloggers on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, said traffic jams and environmental pollution should be at the top of the list. Other micro-bloggers said taxis and motor-taxis, which are illegal because they lack business licenses, provide a needed service, especially in the suburbs, where the public transportation system is considered inadequate.

Hao Jinsong, a lawyer in Beijing, said unlicensed taxis are not as bad as the survey suggested, and that he found little harm in the distribution of advertising fliers.

Unlicensed street vendors have a right to make a living this way, he said, seeing that society cannot provide a decent job for every citizen. What’s more troublesome is that these vendors may run into problems with city inspectors, which in the past has also led to violence, he added.

“The biggest threat to public order is that violence goes unpunished. People feel the least safe when violations of the law, especially criminal cases, are on the rise but do not meet with severe penalties.”

Drunken driving has grown in public awareness owing to recently introduced laws and a series of high-profile cases.

China toughened the penalties for drunken driving on May 1 with an amended Criminal Law that stipulates that all drunken driving is considered a criminal offense, even if it does not result in a serious consequence.

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