Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What the censors did not allow - Tricia Wang

Tricia Wang
Yesterday That's Shanghai published Tricia Wang's much praised story on the life of migrants. But because it is a China based publication, censors need to have a look at it first. Not much went missing, she reports on her weblog. only the part on the Chengguan, local law enforcers with a pretty bad reputation among migrants.

The censored part:
 "Officially know as City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau (城市管理行政执法局), it is not really clear what the chengguan are supposed to do. But what they are known for doing is making migrants' live miserable in cities across China. There are many stories of chengguan beating vendors, smashing their products or food, and taking bribes. It is also common to hear about chengguan killing street vendors. A recent incident in Guizhou led to a riot when a chengguan killed a disabled migrant. Stories of chengguan exploitation of power are so pervasive that appeasing them with bribes becomes the key to a street vendor's success. Giving bribes is a matter of life or death. But for migrants who do not have enough money to bribe, they have to constantly be on the run. Constant running means that a street vendor cannot establish a business in the long term. So for a street vendor like this family I am with, finding a place to set up a cart in a chengguan-free site is a matter of survival and success. A stable place to sell food would give them a stable income to expand their business or go into another line of work."
I am grateful that the censors only cut out that section, they were quite flexible on the other stuff I wrote. Another lesson learned about China, it's important to learn how to write between the lines; keeping it ambiguous is sometimes the best strategy.

More on Tricia Wang's weblog.

Tricia Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers request form.

More on Tricia Wang's research into China's migrants' life on Storify.  
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