Beijing demolishes ‘eyesore’ news stands ahead of Apec meeting
District officials cite illegal sales of products other than newspapers as stands removed before summit
Authorities in Beijing have demolished at least 70 news stands, state media reported on Tuesday.
The news stands were “forcibly demolished” in the night between July 31 and August 1, according to China Economic Weekly, a magazine under the auspices of the Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily.
However, authorities in Chaoyang district, on the east side of the capital, denied the news stands were demolished. They said they had removed the news stands and “standardised” another one in accordance with “relevant provisions”. In a report by China Central Television, they said the news stands “failed to meet the standards.
In a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Beijing municipal officials said the 72 news stands were removed because they had “obstructed pedestrians”.
Calls to Chaoyang authorities by the South China Morning Post went unanswered.
Media reports said the news stands were torn down because they “sold things other than newspapers” and they “were the city’s eyesores”.
“Urban enforcement officers told [me] that the TV broadcast and newspaper reports all said [we] were not allowed to sell soft drinks. [My stand] should be removed now, too, because I sell them,” Liang Tao, owner of a news stand in Chaoyang, told China Economic Weekly.
Selling bottled water and other soft drinks is a common practice for news stands in the city.
“Urban enforcement officers told us when they came to demolish the stand that Beijing would soon host the Apec meeting and my stand was an eyesore to the city,” said Cui Meiling, another news stand owner.
Beijing is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s third senior officials’ meeting until August 21 and the Apec summit in November. Authorities have ordered 70 per cent of its government cars off the roads during the current meeting.
The Beijing Newspaper Retail Company, which oversees the news stands, told the magazine they received a notice in April from municipal authorities asking them to revamp the news stands, but they were not informed of any demolition.
Chaoyang authorities said vehicles of the Retail Company had tried to obstruct their work, and there was other “disturbance by non-news stand staff”.
The authorities also said they would provide assistance to news stand owners once local governments provided confirmation that the owners were having financial difficulties.