In a visit to the city of Yantai in Shandong province on June 1 and 2, 2020, Premier Li Keqiang said street stalls and small shops “are important sources of jobs.” “They are part of China’s vitality just like those high-end, great, and classy businesses,” said Li. This followed his previous remarks made at the press event after the May 28 adjournment of the Third Session of the Thirteenth People’s Congress, where he praised the street vendor policies back in the 1970s for effectively creating jobs. The encouragement of street vendors, backed by Premier Li Keqiang, as a way to create self-employed businesses to absorb newly unemployed, is viewed as a marked change for the government, which previously cracked down on street vendors as part of urban rejuvenation efforts.
Within days, key CCP media pushed back.
On June 6, 2020, Beijing Daily, published an article boycotting Li Keqiang’s “street vendor economy,” claiming that the “street vendor economy is not suitable for Beijing.” It listed a series of various disadvantages to the community environment, including “dirty streets, fake and shoddy products, noise disturbing people, vendors roaming on the streets blocking traffic, etc.” Beijing Daily asserted that the resultant disadvantages damage Beijing’s image as China’s capital and China’s national image, and are “not conducive to a high-quality economy.”
On the same day, the CCP’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, published a commentary on the street vendors. It expressed that the street vendor economy should not be overheated. “With street stalls all over the city, there are also people worried about whether it will hinder traffic. How can the quality of merchandise be guaranteed? How to solve the health problem associated with food and the environment? These worries are not superfluous.”
On June 7, CCP media, China Central TV, also published a commentary, reiterating that the “street vendor economy” is not suitable for Beijing, and said that Beijing’s urban management will strengthen law-enforcement inspection and handling of the street vendors. It further stated that the “street vendor economy” is not a panacea and “blindly following the trend will be counterproductive.”
1.The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China, June 4, 2020,
2.Beijing Daily, June 6, 2020
3.People’s Daily, June 6, 2020
4.China Central TV, June 7, 2020