Early in the evening this past Sunday, shoppers passing near the Xinhua Bookstore on Nanping Jie may have noticed a bloodied young man laying on the ground between roughly 5:30 and 8:00 pm.
Who beat up this man and left him injured on the street? According to witnesses interviewed by local paper Shenghuo Xinbao (aka Life Times), the man had been beaten by plainclothes chengguan (城管) – literally 'city management' – the government employees who are charged with keeping the streets free of unlicensed commerce.
The man, Yuan Bangjin (袁帮金, pictured above), moved to Kunming from Sichuan in January of this year after a tragic 2008 in which the May 12 Wenchuan earthquake killed his wife and destroyed his shop. According to the Shenghuo Xinbao article, Yuan barely had more than a photo of his deceased wife when he arrived in Kunming.
According to Tong Dahong (童大洪), a friend of Yuan's, the two men had been playing cards with others before returning to Nanping Jie, where Tong was flogging goods at a makeshift street stall. When the chengguan arrived, Tong fled, leaving Yuan to face the chengguan alone.
The chengguan reportedly mistook Yuan for an illegal street vendor, leading to a quarrel that quickly turned violent, according to onlookers quoted in the Shenghuo Xinbao report.
"We change shifts at three, afterward I was sitting in our [chengguan] kiosk the whole time, we did not beat anyone – furthermore we didn't wear plainclothes today," Chengguan captain Yu Bing (余兵) told Shenghuo Xinbao.
"If you're going to say we're beating people, you need photographic evidence," Yu added. "At present we've undergone an investigation and we have no responsibility whatsoever.
A woman working near the Xinhua Bookstore on Nanping Jie told Shenghuo Xinbao a very different story. The woman, who did not give her name, said she and her coworker both saw plainclothes chengguan beat Yuan.
"[Chengguan] come here everyday, frequently in plainclothes," she said. "I know exactly what they look like."
After being taken to a hospital for treatment, Yuan went to the Huguo Police Station, where he was told that they could not deal with the matter. Yuan then went to the chengguan bureau for the Wuhua District, where he was told that they would only investigate if he provided photographs of him being beaten by chengguan.
"How can I obtain photographic evidence [of my beating] while I'm being beaten?" Yuan asked Shenghuo Xinbao.
Kunming's chengguan have a local reputation for frequently resorting to heavy handed tactics when dealing with street vendors and even registered businesses. Conflicts involving chengguan can also end up with chengguan suffering casualties. A chengguan was stabbed to death on Wenlin Jie in late 2005 while confiscating a tangerine vendor's cart.
In what may be an effort to improve the image of chengguan in Kunming, a "military-style" seven-day training program for thousands of chengguan around Kunming was launched on Sunday, according to a Yunnan Information News report.
Yang Zhaolin, an assistant chengguan captain, told the paper he was optimistic about the effect the training would have on Kunming's chengguan.
"I believe that later on, the team members who complete this training will definitely not enforce the law the way they wish to or enforce the law haphazardly, putting an end to any unhappiness that results from the process of law enforcement," Yang said.
Yuan Bangjin image: news.kunming.cn
Chengguan training image: news.ifeng.com© Copyright 2005-2020 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.