Another entry in the vein of illogical law enforcement. My wife passed this video along earlier today. It’s actually a couple months old now, but still making the rounds on Chinese social media, and it has racked up more than two million views.
Note: To be fair, I’m not entirely sure the men in this video are chengguan (city management officials), as the video isn’t clear enough to read anything on their uniforms, but they seem to be performing the duties of chengguan and are identified as chengguan in the comments, so let’s just assume they are.
Nothing about this is surprising, of course, but it’s worth noting the the ridiculousness of this kind of “enforcement strategy,” which happens all across China with alarming frequency. Chengguan are tasked with keeping the city’s streets clean and ensuring that vendors are in the proper places, with the proper permits. Frequently, they’re not, and I do understand China’s desire to regulate this (in theory), but the practice often leaves much to be desired.
The kind of enforcement we see in this video doesn’t solve any problems. All it does is create problems. Where previously there was a calm woman on the street selling fruit, now there is an angry woman on the street, a small crowd of onlookers, and a huge mess because the chengguan decided to dump her fruit all over the sidewalk. The chengguan have effectively turned what was a regular street in China into a mess of emotion and spilled fruit. What has society gained from this?
Nothing, obviously. The chengguan don’t even gain anything personally, aside from the minimal ego boost that comes from bullying people you have some power over. It is a needless show of force, the desperate demonstration of an insecure bully who is terrified that if the people’s fear ever subsides for a moment they’re going to see just how pathetic he really is.
(Another sign of the times: in the video comments, some commenters have pointed out that these guys are actually quite restrained for chengguan; they may have stomped and dumped out her baskets, but at least they didn’t physically attack her. Disturbingly, this is enough to pass for ‘restraint’ these days.)