Urban management officers criticised for tearing down shops’ Lunar New Year decorations
Public policy academic accuse notorious chengguan of overstepping their authority
Urban management officers in east China have been criticised for tearing down outdoor Lunar New Year decorations during the holiday period.
The unpopular semi-official officers, known colloquially as chengguan, are installed in most mainland cities and are notorious for their often thuggish enforcement of beggars and illegal hawkers.
A team of chengguan in Jining, Shandong province, started tearing down Chinese New Year decorations on the streets starting from January 30, two days after Chinese New Year;s Day and in the middle of the holiday, The Beijing News reported on Sunday.
The decorations torn down included festive couplets or paper-cuts of the Chinese character “Fu” – or blessings –that were pasted on front doors of shops.
These decorations posed “a security risk and visual pollution”, the officers said in a statement quoted by the report.
But pictures from media reports show that the decorations were still intact and in good condition moments before they were torn down.
The officers removed some 450 decorations on the street.
The move was widely condemned, including by public policy scholars who described the removals as an abuse of power.
Lunar New Year decorations are usually taken down about two weeks after Chinese New Year.
Wang Jingbo, a public policy professor at China University of Political Science and Law, believed the urban officers abused their powers and should be more respectful of people’s cultural habits.
Professor Wang Yukai, with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said since the decorations were posted on the shopowners’ doors, their private property, and as such the officers overstepped the limits of their authority.