In early June, Premier Li Keqiang vowed government support for street vendors as part of efforts to ease unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was met with great enthusiasm by Chinese consumers, but not so by officials in the wealthy tier 1 cities Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, who had spent many years ‘cleaning up the streets’ of chaos and backwardness. They considered street stalls as a source of poor hygiene, noise pollution, inferior products and traffic problems, unfitting fixtures in a confident China’s rise to become a wealthy and powerful nation taking pride in its technological advances and gleaming skyscrapers.
Shanghai officials promised to have effective operations to police vendors who operated outside of designated areas. Based on walking the streets over the last weekend (Dragon Boat Festival) in Shanghai, plenty of vendors and consumers have embraced the stalls as this footage attests. Although, much like China has evolved in many other areas, the street stalls are shinier and slicker than many of those that used to fill the streets some years ago playing to a Chinese consumer with much higher expectations. All the best to them.