Street stalls help China on road to recovery

Hawkers were demonised before the coronavirus spread, now they are providing work for newly unemployed and cheap meals for those facing hardships 

by Nadeem Xu
Street stalls play role in China’s recovery
Fruit boost: A street vendor in Yangzhou, near Guilin, tends to her stall. Rules have been relaxed to allow more hawkers to operate on China’s streets. 

(ATF) A relaxation of rules governing street vendors has taken China by storm, with social media suggesting the policy designed to provide work for millions made unemployed by coronavirus is having an impact.

Topics related to street vendors have been read by more than 600 million times on Weibo, the Economic View reported on Thursday.

Preliminary statistics show at least 27 areas including provinces and cities, such as Liaoning, Jiangxi, Gansu, Shanghai, Ji'nan and Zhengzhou, are encouraging the road-side business. 

Ying Xiwen at China Minsheng Bank's think tank said the street-stall economy has always been in a grey area in China's urban economy. But its existence is rational to some extent, for it mitigates pressure on employment, fuels development for tertiary industries, enlivens markets and stimulates the economy.

Once demonsied and even hounded off the streets, Premier Li Keqiang has joined the throngs hailing the virtues of humble street-food and good salespeople. Li has been a vocal supporter since the virus outbreak put the world’s second-largest economy on hold for two months and led to the first contraction in the economy in generations.

The relaxation of controls also helped meet demand for low-cost food during the crisis as millions were locked in their homes to control the epidemic’s spread.

Zhang Zhixin, deputy professor at the Capital University of Economics and Business said road-side businesses facilitate shopping and enliven cities.

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