After Li made a speech during the May 28 session of China’s rubber-stamp legislature promoting the idea, China’s top e-retailers, including JD.com and Suning.com, and e-commerce platforms like WeChat Pay launched new products and apps to support street vendors interested in selling goods.
In Beijing and Shanghai, many locals started setting up their street vendor stands.
But over the weekend, Chinese state-run media suddenly did an about-face and criticized the idea of a “street vendor economy.”
Some analysts interpreted this reversal as an indication that the Chinese regime wanted to maintain the image of modern metropolises, while also hoping to save retail stores.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based China affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan believed that the conflict was not between the two political leaders, “but between a socialist system and people’s livelihood.”
Tang explained that the Chinese economy has suffered from business inactivity during the CCP virus outbreak. Then, when the virus spread to countries around the world and impacted their economies, the demand for China's exports dropped dramatically.
When the Chinese regime began promoting street vendor businesses, it signaled to the public that China’s socialist economy was unsuccessful in ensuring the country’s prosperity, Tang said.
Street Vendor EconomyDuring a video-based press conference in Beijing on May 28, Chinese premier Li Keqiang explained that the country had a large unemployment and poverty problem that had been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Li suggested that people could become street vendors to make a living.
“About two weeks ago, I read a report which said a western Chinese city set up 36,000 mobile vendor stands. In one night, about 100,000 people had a job [as vendors],” Li said.
On June 1, Li visited an old residential compound in Yantai city of eastern China’s Shandong Province to further promote the idea.
U-TurnHowever, on June 6 and June 7, a newspaper operated by the Beijing city government, Beijing Daily, published three commentaries to criticize the “street vendor economy.”
The commentaries said that because street stalls are “full of counterfeit and fake products,” “unsanitary and uncivilized,” “very noisy,” and “blocks car traffic...they are bad for the image of our country and our country’s capital.”
Beijing Daily also said that government organs will remove any street stalls that have already been set up.
The CCTV piece emphasized that “the basic needs for promoting the economy is: resuming production, manufacturing, markets, and businesses.” This was a quote from Xi’s speech made in February to encourage businesses to reopen following the epidemic.
The commentary stated that while street stalls can provide economic benefits, each local government should regulate street vendors, such as by collecting management fees; limiting the amount of space and operating hours for selling; and checking the sanitation condition of food suppliers.
That same night, the Party’s Central Guidance Commission on Building Spiritual Civilization, another propaganda organ, revoked regulations allowing for street vendor stands in cities, the same insider told RFA.