China: Around The Nation

China’s notorious urban enforcement officials given makeover

Officials with a reputation for the sometimes brutal enforcement of local by-laws to get revamped, standard form of uniform across the country

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 2:29pm

China’s notorious urban enforcement officials, known as chengguan in Chinese, will have their uniforms revamped and standardised across the nation by the end of the year, according to Chinese media reports.

The move comes after public complaints that chengguan uniforms are indistinguishable from those of other law enforcement officials or private security guards, The Beijing News reported.

Urban enforcement officials also often don different uniforms in different cities.

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The authorities showed off the new set of standardised uniforms at a meeting in Beijing on Thursday.

The government said the new uniforms would help people tell the difference between urban enforcement officials and the police and security guards, the newspaper report said.

Chengguan operate in most cities across China and tasked with enforcing municipal by-laws, such as regulations covering hawking and the operation of food stalls.

The officers have hit the headlines several times in recent years for their sometimes brutal treatment of illegal hawkers and beggars on the streets.

Four chengguan were jailed in Hunan province in 2013 for beating a fruit vendor to death. The following year, over 500 people in Zhejiang province mobbed and assaulted five chengguan after they beat a member of the public who was photographing them carrying out their duties.

As chengguan’s uniforms appear highly similar to those of other officials, local thugs have worn them to pose as chengguan to demand special treatment from businesses, according to Chinese media reports.

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However, social media users said the new uniforms still made it hard to differentiate between the different types of officers.

One person wrote on social media: “They still look like police from afar and ... security guards from close up.”