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China: Around The Nation

Vehicle overturned in China as dispute between street vendors and officials turns ugly

Tempers flare, police called as urban management officers scuffle with men selling watermelons from back of a truck

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 1:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 2:43pm

Scuffles broke out and a government vehicle was overturned in northwestern China as tempers flared during a dispute between street vendors and urban management officials.

The incident happened on Thursday afternoon in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province, when the officials – known as chengguan – tried to close down a number of roadside food stalls, news website youth.cn reported.

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The officers claimed the vendors, including a group selling watermelons from the back of a truck, were operating in a restricted area, the report said.

As the incident escalated, several men dressed in T-shirts were seen tussling with the uniformed officers, according to images circulated online. A vehicle was also overturned during the altercation, though it is no clear who was to blame.

A video posted on Thepaper.cn shows the two groups scuffling and the van lying on its side with its windscreen shattered.

The local urban management authority said in a statement on its social media account later on Thursday that the street vendors had resisted law enforcement officers who were trying to close down a stall selling watermelons.

Police later intervened to help resolve the issue, the authority said, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

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Conflicts between street vendors and urban management officers are not uncommon in China, though public opinion on the issue is divided.

Online, people were quick to criticise the officers for their heavy-handed approach to dealing with the incident in Xian, though others said unlicensed vendors were known for blocking local roads.

“Violence cannot solve the problem,” one person wrote on Weibo.

“Chengguan have a hard job trying to manage the street vendors, and the situation would be a lot worse without them,” another said on news website163.com.