Street vendors won't save China's economy

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For a decade, I lived in a leafy Shanghai neighbourhood known for unlicensed street vendors who sold barbecued lamb kebabs, knock-off DVDs and (often) hashish.

Local police long tolerated their presence, usually in return for DVDs and kebabs. But eventually, as the neighbourhood trended upscale and orderly, the stalls and vendors were pushed out, victims of China's often-brutal bid to rid its streets of informal businesses and the headaches they created.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2020, with the headline Street vendors won't save China's economy. Subscribe