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Can street vendors save China from job crisis? Beijing is divided

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Adam D. Crook
Written by Adam D. Crook

It started gaining traction last month when China’s Premier Li Keqiang, the second-highest ranking official in China after President Xi Jinping, praised Chengdu City To create 100,000 jobs overnight by setting up thousands of street stalls that usually sell food, fresh vegetables, clothes and toys.

The government must strive to create new jobs by “breaking stereotypes.” Said At a major annual political conference in Beijing. “China has 900 million workforce. Without jobs, 900 million mouths need to be fed. With jobs, 900 million pairs of hands can create enormous wealth.”
The suggestion that street vendors might answer China’s unemployment problem is not limited to Li’s comments in the House. In his year, “mobile vendors” were also mentioned Government Work Report – It lists Beijing’s priorities for the year – the first time since he took office seven years ago. Li hailed street vendors after meeting during a visit to eastern Shandong province.
Li’s message comes at a time of stress for the world The second largest economy. China GDP from January to March The first time was reduced Decades. Since then the unemployment rate has worsened Coronavirus pandemic Began, and informal analysis indicates 80 million people This spring work may be in the towel. Prior to the outbreak, officials said they needed to create about 11 million new jobs every year to track employment.
But the reaction to Li’s pitch in the Chinese state media has been swift and intense. The flow of street vendors in major cities is “barbaric,” state broadcaster CCTV wrote The commentary part Published online earlier this month. It criticized the premiere as being “like going back overnight several decades ago”.
And the city government’s official newspaper, the Beijing Daily, has published several articles Bursting street vending stalls Noisy, obstructive and capable of disrupting the “image of the capital city and the image of the country”.

Push for tech

The idea of ​​vendors moving to the streets of high-tech metropolis like Shanghai and Shenzhen has caused controversy in China, as Beijing has spent years developing the country’s image as a sophisticated global superpower. Of Xi The signature policy project, “Made in China 2025”, pushes the country to compete with the United States for influence through billions of dollars’ worth of investment in future technologies.

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“Street hawking is a dislike for Ziki because it disrupts the image of a successful and beautiful China he likes to project,” said Professor Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Xi reiterated his long-standing efforts to find high-tech solutions to China’s economic woes. He recently called for investment in 5G networks and next-generation satellites as part of a plan to boost economic growth and employment.

“Efforts should be made to promote innovation in science and technology and accelerate the development of strategic emerging industries,” Xi said at a meeting with political consultants last month. According to state-run broadcaster CGTN.
The smartphones will be showcased at the Huawei Store before its launch in Shanghai later this month.

A harsh political reality

Ann Whitney Olin Giabo, a political science professor at Barnard College, said Li’s idea had some merit. China set a goal It will eliminate poverty by the end of this year, And street selling and other modest work means that people living above the poverty line “can find ways to survive”.

In addition, he said, Beijing may not be as effective at creating large and expensive infrastructure projects as a way to address its financial woes.

The global financial crisis of 2008-2009 – China’s response to the last economic shock – massive investment in roads, airports and high-speed rail lines. This time, that stimulus line is already saturated.

“In many respects, even measured by per capita holding, China has achieved world-leading status in infrastructure,” writes Hu Hu Ning, a professor of finance at Shanghai Xiao Tang University and a faculty fellow at Yale University. Research Report Earlier this year. “So, the infrastructure needs changed a lot compared to 2008.”

“The past financial crisis has also left China with a lot of debt. This time it is important for the country to focus on private consumption,” he said.

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Chinese government adviser Tang Min recently told reporters in Beijing that street hawking would not only create jobs but also address public concerns about the ongoing pandemic.

“But this cannot replace the ‘regular’ economy – the selling or buying of the streets is very limited,” Tang said. “The government will not allow this to be checked – we must control it as we continue to experiment and explore this option.”

At May’s annual political conference, Li was indifferent to China’s problems and how some of the country’s high-tech future might not be involved. About 600 million Chinese – 40% of the population – earn an average of just 1,000 yuan (1 141) per month.

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The street vendor makes the job “the main source of employment.” Said When visiting Shandong province earlier this month, such jobs would make China “alive”. The lifting of restrictions on street stalls – such as allowing roadside business in urban areas – could create 50 million new jobs, according to a state media report.

“Li is trying to solve problems that hit a … realistic approach,” Said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Center for China Studies. He said the street vendors’ approach may not be perfect and there may not be a better alternative to creating more jobs in a short time.

“Employment is the most important thing that triggers political upheaval … Li is clearly concerned about the disastrous outcome of the massive job losses.”

A Uyghur man sells traditional flatbread to women shoppers in 1999 along Beijing Xinjiang Street.

Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute, said Li was trying to do his job of overseeing the country’s key economic policies.

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“As a result of the pandemic, he was allowed to play the premier’s well-established role in driving the economy, from which he spent much of his time in the Ji era,” Song said. “He has seen how a more practical and more proactive approach to the economic impact of Kovid-19 is needed, thus enabling and encouraging street sales for those affected by the pandemic.”

Local governments have gone ahead

Li’s public debate for street vendors in China has waned in recent days, as major cities – including Beijing and Shenzhen – have made it clear that this policy is not welcomed there.

But other local governments in less affluent areas are quietly pushing the idea. The capital of the northwestern Gansu province is Lanzhou Tuesday Announced plans The plan, which is expected to create at least 300,000 jobs – to set up nearly 11,000 street vendors.
Changchun, the capital of the northeastern Jilin province, also promoted the idea. The provincial Communist Party boss visited the street food stalls in Changchun earlier this month and hailed the business as a “low threshold” for people who wanted to get a job. Jilin Provincial Government.

“Street stalls are actually completely invisible,” said Lam, a professor at the University of Hong Kong. He hoped local governments would come up with this plan as long as unemployment remains a major concern.

About the author

Adam D. Crook

Adam D. Crook

Adam is a charismatic science communicator respected for his deep understanding of US S&T system. "New Frontiers in Science & Development' is the online platform he contributes to actively in addition to Science and Getty Images. He has won many national and international awards for his work. Explaining complexities of science in a simple language is his forte. He has extensive experience in reporting about the United State atomic energy program.
His pioneering work show casing US’s maiden mission to Mars and Moon has been applauded this aired in English for Television. In his two decades of writing for the prestigious American weekly Science, his stories have highlighted.

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