The Price of Kunming’s “New Image”
As the municipal government works towards its goal of making Kunming a MingHuaCheng, a cultural icon, a model city, a simple walk down the street for a bowl of noodles displays some of the dramatic changes taking place. The constant presence of people selling things on the side of the road – farmers with their fruits and vegetables, artists with their pictures or people with cheap watches – is a feature all over Asia, and Kunming has proved no exception.
Until now. Starting with the Games for the Disabled last week, the police have begun frequently raiding the roadsides, scattering the sellers of snacks and goods that set up their mobile shops. Making an example of this woman, the police actually confiscated the cart full of peaches that she had been pushing, selling them by the kilo to the passing university students.
Hopefully, the government doesn’t get overly zealous and decide that public performances, such as this one in the park today, are also an eye-sore in its otherwise perfectly manicured city.
The old generation of Party members, called Mao’s Boys by some, are easy to spot, in their heavy blue uniforms and with their eyes and faces that betray all the years they’ve lived and things they’ve seen. They always have a place of respect.