The Beijing authorities have snubbed a call by Premier Li Keqiang to bring back roadside stalls saying they are “not suitable” for the capital. Li personally endorsed the plan to revive the “vendor economy” at the annual legislative meeting last month , saying they were “important sources of employment” that would help get the economy back on track. But an editorial published in Beijing Daily , the mouthpiece of the municipal authorities, said: “Beijing should not and cannot develop economies that do not fit in the strategic positioning of the capital city. “Roaming vendors and roadside stalls will put visible pressure on urban management, the environment, hygiene and traffic.” It said Beijing has its “own moves and measures” to protect employment and minimise the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. “Should the once eliminated serious urban plagues – including dirty streets, fake goods, noise, traffic congestion, unhygienic and uncivil behaviour come back – all our governance efforts to date would be wasted, and undermine the image of the capital and well as the country,” the editorial added. Street vendors can help ease unemployment, but can they fend off city guardians? Zang Jianwen, a lecturer at Hebei Finance University, said the city was following its own development model but said the authorities should also respect people’s economic choices. “The vendor economy is rooted in indigenous trade traditions, which the administration should not ignore or reject, but respect and guide,” he said. In 2017, Beijing began a campaign targeting street vendors, overcrowded lodgings and unlicensed businesses, with urban management officials, known as chengguan , forcing many stallholders off the streets although a small number still operate. Cities across China started loosening restrictions on vendors last month after Li used his annual press conference to praise one western city for creating 100,000 jobs by allowing 36,000 mobile stalls to be set up. Shanghai has issued guidelines that small roadside stalls will be “exempt from punishment”, while Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province, reversed a strict ban and said vendors would be allowed to set up their stalls and certain times and locations. In Jiujiang, a city in Jiangxi province, the local government even said the local chengguan would be asked to contact peddlers and encourage them to start operating in the streets again. Last week, Li visited a street food stall in Yantai in Shandong province and said “street vendors and small shops were important sources of employment and a symbol of the exuberant life and vigour of China”. The central government has also reversed a requirement that cities should ban “roadside stalls, street markets and roaming vendors” to be classified as a “civilised city”.