Civilized City Competition


Jinan and other Chinese cities cleaned up their acts to compete for a title of Civilized City. Posters were placed everywhere. Intersections were manned with sometimes as many as 12 traffic guards to make sure that no one went before the light was green and that everyone, even the infernal e-bike  riders, stopped when the light went red.

The street food vendors were sent packing, which I think was wrong headed. What’s uncivil about street food? I know they’re messy and probably don’t pay taxes, but just monitor them better and hold them to standards. Don’t eliminate them.


All night markets were forbidden. There used to be night markets where when the sunset you could haggle for anything from gadgets to linens to designer bags. Poof! Gone! They ain’t civilized.

This makes me wonder what constitutes a civilized city. I think following rules is great, but I’m sad to see the vendors disappear. Why aren’t they civilized?

Well, according to historian and Sinophile Jeremiah Jenne, China’s looking to modernize, to show the world that they’re as good as say Singapore or Taiwan. They don’t want to simply follow the West, but they don’t have a particular goal of their own. So they’re equating modernization with civilization.

It was sad to see how suddenly they got rid of hundreds of entrepreneurs. I wonder what happened to these people whose families depend on the money from these small businesses. I hope they were compensated, but I doubt it.

I’m not sure how a city benefits from this competition. I figured eventually the sweet potato vendors and even my favorite chicken salad business would be replaced by KFC or a fancy salad restaurant. I thought they’d fade away, but this is more of a hatchet job.


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