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In China it’s common to see people pushing tricycles to set up stalls selling things by the side of the road, at railway stations or at tourist sites. These people setting up stalls are called hawkers. Hawkers are mainly peasants from the countryside or migrant workers. Although these stalls are convenient, in the eyes of the government these are not a welcome scene. Then the ‘cheng guan’ appear. [cheng guan – a type of government force – apart from the police – which polices this sort of non-criminal infringement]
Those confronting the cheng guan are mainly at the bottom rung of society. After writing out infringement notices the cheng guan will also carry away the stall. So when the hawkers see cheng guan they feel fear and also hate. Once the cheng guan arrive they immediately run away; those caught are really out of luck. In order to fulfill their mission the cheng guan often become even more violent and show no sympathy towards the hawkers. The hawkers feel humiliated and will fight with the cheng guan as if their lives depended on it. So conflicts break out over and over again and tragedy can’t be avoided.
In 2009, Xia Junfeng and his wife had set up a street stall in Shenyang. Over ten chen guan arrived and because they resisted, the chen guan overturned their stall and also beat Xia Junfeng. Then they also took Xia Junfeng to their office and continued the beating. To defend himself Xia Junfeng stabbed and killed two of the cheng guan. Consequently Xia Junfeng was sentenced to death. This event caused a sensation. Many people felt bad about the death of Xia Junfeng but the two dead cheng guan also deserve people’s sympathy.
Although many people don’t have a good opinion of cheng guan, cheng guan are also fulfilling their assignments as cheng guan, so in the final analysis, the root cause of this problem is absolutely not they themselves. Apart from getting rid of hawkers, cheng guan also participate in tasks such as tearing down illegal constructions. In the same way, many tragedies occur at the scene of these demolitions. Corrupt officials and cheng guan act as one and for the sake of monetary gain don’t care at all whether ordinary people live or die.
Since becoming party chairman, Xin Jinping has carried out some major reforms exactly with the aim of resolving this kind of serious problem of – that of corruption.
Translation by Robert Budzul