Officers, vendors swap jobs
Both gain sympathy for the other in Changzhou outreach program
The Urban Management Bureau of Changzhou, Jiangsu province, shared its daily work with vendors, in an effort to cultivate mutual understanding with a group that is often hostile toward urban patrol officers and their enforcement duties.
One of the vendors, Liu Wei, who has lived in Changzhou for eight years, was fined by the bureau for selling barbecued food without a license.
“I was fined twice by the bureau, totaling 1,000 yuan ($145),” Liu said. “That meant I worked five days for nothing. When I saw the bureau’s notice to share their work, I jumped at the chance. I want to know what they do and why they fine us.”
Liu donned an official uniform, carried a recorder, received an intercom and started a day’s work in the city’s Tianning district.
“I thought the work would be very easy because I’m one of them. I have many vendor friends and I know how to talk to them,” he said.
But the work turned out to be more difficult than he imagined. Some vendors refused to leave the roadside where passersby often stop and buy goods. A supermarket owner even pushed Liu out of the door after he tried to talk him into moving roadside goods indoors.
Liu had to call his colleagues for help. They told him he should keep calm and avoid using provocative words that might worsen the situation. They smiled and explained the regulations patiently to the vendors and shop owners.
Besides patrolling roads, Liu’s work included cleaning up random graffiti on walls, demolishing illegal constructions and controlling illegal parking. He and other patrol officers had to carry a video recorder to prove that they did not use violence in doing their job.
“I used to think that the work of the urban management bureau was to rob vendors,” Liu said. “Now I know their duties and that their work is not easy. Mutual understanding is essential to avoid conflicts.”
Then there was the other side: Some undercover urban management officers also worked as vendors in Changzhou to experience the vendors’ daily lives and ensure that their colleagues do their work in the right way, according to Qian Li, deputy director of the Lanling squadron in the city’s Tianning district.
“Their experiences will be shown on the internet,” Qian said. “A documentary will also be made based on the experiences of the vendors and our workers.”
Conflicts between vendors and city management workers are reported from time to time throughout China.
Job seekers collect information at a booth at the Job Fair for Foreign Students in China at Peking University on Saturday. About 2,500 prospective employees attended interviews. The fair, which was organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange, was offering 450 positions in fields including construction, high-speed railways, student counseling and financial services.