The return of street vending
In order to revive the coronavirus-stricken economy, China is now promoting the idea of the ditan, or “street vending” economy. According to a recent speech by the Chinese premier Li Keqiang, street vending is the “lifeblood” of the country and a key source of employment in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak.
After Premier Li’s high-profile speech to get people back into the traditional form of commerce, people have been spurred to set up street stalls nationwide. Snacks, clothes, accessories and even rabbits — Chinese are selling their wares on the street, on pavements or in the trunk of cars.
Local residents have welcomed the reopening of roadside businesses, which often supply goods at lower prices. To office workers, eating and shopping at roadside stalls is also a good option when they return from work at night..
In fact, street vendors were once seen as a symbol of backwardness and poverty, with many city authorities removing roadside stalls on the pretext of keeping the city clean and easy to get around. Although China is now restarting the street vending economy amid concerns about unemployment, some local governments and state media have dampened expectations of a large-scale return to informal street sales.
Beijing Daily, the official newspaper of the Beijing municipal government, said in a commentary that the “street vending economy” is unsuitable for the capital, and the city hasn’t relaxed its rules on street stalls. Other official media followed suit, arguing that there exist many problems including food hygiene and product quality.
Street vendors are an integral part of urban economy, adding vitality to city life, but it meanwhile brings enormous controversy. To develop the street vending economy, health and safety regulations and urban planning should be taken into consideration. Besides, establishing street vendors’ organizations will help to legitimize this informal economy and to make innovative policies that will enable vendors to have a voice in city development.
revive v. 复苏
street vending economy 地摊经济
high profile adj. 高调的
spur v. 鼓舞；促进
street vendor 街头小贩
legitimize v. 合法化