Last month, when China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang – the second top official in China after President Xi Jinping – praised the city of Chengdu, he began to fight last month. To create 100,000 jobs overnight by building tens of thousands of street stalls, usually selling food, fresh vegetables, clothes and toys.
Printing for technology
The idea of vendors that filled the streets of high-tech metropolises like Shanghai and Shenzhen partially caused controversy in China because Beijing has developed its image as an advanced global superpower for years. Xi’s The signature policy project “Made in China 2025” pushed the country to compete with the United States to penetrate future technologies through billions of dollars worth of investment.
“It’s something that Xi doesn’t like because the falcon on the street darkens the image of the successful and beautiful China he likes the project,” said Professor Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute, School of Eastern and African Studies in London.
In recent weeks, Xi has reiterated China’s long-standing pressure for high-tech solutions against economic hardships. He recently called on the country to invest in 5G networks and new generation satellites as part of its plan to increase economic growth and employment.
A harsh political reality
He also said that once implementing large, expensive infrastructure projects as a way to solve Beijing’s economic troubles, it may not be so effective.
China’s response to the last major economic shock – the 2008-2009 global financial crisis – involved investing heavily in highways, airports and high-speed rail lines. This time, this stimulus line was already saturated.
Zhu added that the recent financial crisis has left China with too much debt, making it important for the country to focus on private consumption this time.
Tang Min, a Chinese government adviser, recently told reporters in Beijing that street jobs will not only create jobs, but will also address concerns about indoor crowds amidst the ongoing epidemic.
“But it cannot replace the ‘normal’ economy – things that can be sold or bought on the streets are very limited,” Tang said. Said. “The government cannot allow it to grow uncontrollably – it needs to be regulated while continuing to try and research this option.”
At May’s annual political meeting, Li was blunted by China’s problems and to what extent some people might not participate in the country’s high-tech future. About 600 million Chinese people – about 40% of the population – earn an average of just 1,000 yuan ($ 141) per month.
“Li is trying to find solutions with a realistic approach to emergencies.” says Professor Willy Lam at the China Research Center of the University of Hong Lam, China. While the street vendor approach is not perfect, it may not be a better alternative to create lots of jobs in a short time.
“Employment is an extremely important issue that can trigger political turmoil … Li is apparently concerned about the disastrous consequences of major job losses.”
Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute, said that Li was probably trying to control the country’s basic economic policies.
“Pandemic allowed the prime minister to play his deep-rooted role in managing the economy,” Tsang said. “He saw how the economic impact of Covid-19 required a pragmatic and more emphatic approach, so he allowed, or even encouraged, street sales to those who were brought up as a result of the pandemic.”
Local governments stand out
The public debate of Li’s pressure on street vendors in China has declined recently, with major cities including Beijing and Shenzhen clearly demonstrating that the policy is not welcome there.
“Street stalls won’t actually disappear altogether,” said Lam, professor at the University of China in Hong Kong. As long as unemployment was the biggest concern, he expected local governments to move forward with the plan.