I contributed the lead story in That's Shanghai's February issue, Dumplings for Sale. I was really pleased with how the piece turned out. They even included a section about my research, where I explain how Dumplings for Sale seems to be far from a case study of tech use, acually fits into my larger research project on trust and the internet in China.
Though, one thing that's missing from the story is an entire paragraph that I wrote on the relationship between the chengguan and the street vendors. The State Council Information Office censored this paragraph:
"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.
Here is the entire issue of That's Shanghai if you want to read the pdf version and the other articles in the issue. [download magazine].
That's Shanghai is really developing a wonderful voice. I am impressed with the editors for featuring human-interest stories that touch the edges of society. Thanks to editor, Leslie Jones, for all your guidance! And I must also thanks Dominic Tan for referring me to Leslie during her visit to IDEO! It's a small world.
And for the Chinese readers, Kate Jing, a wonderful blogger who writes in Chinese and English translated the first part of the aritlce! Thanks Jing! [饺子：分享中文版，PDF 版；Chinese translation of article by Kate Jing, PDF]