Chengguan Working as Undercover Street Vendor Controversy

The undercover chengguan Gui.

The undercover chengguan Gui.

From NetEase:

Wuhan Chengguan “Goes Undercover” as Street Vendor at Night Market

June 16, a netizen in Wuhan posted online: A chengguan officer of the Wuhan City Hongshan District City Management Bureau patrols the streets and raids street vendors as a law enforcer by day, and transforms into a part-time street vendor and sells tea mugs on the sidewalk by night. Wuhan Chengguan’s official microblog has responded, claiming that the person involved is an outstanding chengguan law enforcement officer; while figures from the Hongshan Chengguan claim: “Street vending” is an undercover job [mole], the objective of which is “transpositional thinking” [to think/see from the other side].

Gui is enforcing the law during the day.

After verification, the law enforcement officer in the pictures posted online by the netizen is surnamed Gui, is a regular employee of the Hongshan District Chengguan Bureau Law Enforcement Brigade 7th Detachment, 33 years old, has a Bachelor Degree, joined the Hongshan Chengguan Bureau via examination in 2003 May, passed the judicial examination in 2007, and has an outstanding work performance. In the pictures posted online, there was also a woman, an she is surnamed Yang, is also an office worker of the Hongshan Chengguan Bureau. Image is of the picture taken by the netizen of this chengguan enforcing the law during the day.

Gui is posing as a street vendor at night.

According to the relevant person in charge from the Hongshan District Chengguan Bureau, the two chengguan officers were indeed on an “undercover” mission. They were chosen by the bureau to pose as street vendors in the district during their off hours. While checking the law enforcing situations of the chengguan officers, [the bureau] also goes deeper into understanding street vendors’ actual conditions by using “transpositional thinking” [putting oneself in another’s shoes], in order to upgrade the management level in the future. Image is of the picture taken by the netizen of the chengguan officer posing as a street vendor at night.

Gui is posing as a street vendor at night.

This relevant person in charge claims that the undercover plan was supposed to be carried out for two months, but is accidentally compromised now only one month later. And the bureau has already debriefed the situation to the Municipal Chengguan Committee. Image is of the picture taken by the netizen of the chengguan officer posing as a street vendor at night.

Gui is speaking at the exchange meeting.

Gui and another undercover chengguan are at the exchange meeting.

On the morning of June 17, the Wuhan City Hongshan District Chengguan Bureau held a press briefing where they made public the chengguan officer’s street peddling journal. In the diary, he stated his motive for street peddling, which was “transpositional thinking”, and to improve the management. The diary also recorded many of his experiences as a street peddler.

The diary Gui keeps while street vending.

The diary Gui keeps while street vending.

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The journal kept by the chengguan officer while [posing undercover as a] street vendor.

Gui is posing as a street vendor at night.

Many Chinese netizens appear unconvinced by the explanation of authorities that this city management officer is merely going undercover to experience what life is like for those they’re normally charged with enforcing the law on, instead preferring to believe or at least joke that the man was simply caught doing something he has to do to make ends meet, and that the authorities have fabricated the “undercover” cover story simply to explain away the superficial contradiction and irony.

Comments from NetEase:

风毒翩翩 [网易上海市网友]:

A real “Yan’an” kind of chengguan wouldn’t bother with this petty money. I reckon this chengguan is also just a good guy. Everyone has their difficulties!

风毒翩翩 [网易上海市网友]:

Everyone has a story [reason for what they do]. Editor, why expose him? Now he won’t be able to make a living…

憶文 [网易山东省枣庄市网友]:

You can know what a person is like by judging his/her face, and looking at his face, I think he’s not bad. What more, the goods he was selling were all just some tea mugs, and he was selling them at a small spot. When I first saw the title, I thought he was peddling food and snacks, but it was only some tea mugs. What can it prove? Everybody has a story. Furthermore, selling tea mugs also doesn’t cause that much pollution, much better than those BBQ businesses on the streets at night. The person who exposed him is hypocritical, there’s too much retaliation in your motive for doing so, and your life is a failure…

平常心24161964 [网易山西省太原市小店区网友]:

Just trying to feed his family…

屠龙术 [网易浙江省湖州市网友]: (responding to above)

It’s not easy working on the front lines…

okrunxue [网易广东省广州市网友]:

Being a chengguan is only a temporary job, while being a street vendor is his real job… It’s all just to make a living, his life isn’t easy either~

愚鼠临疯 [网易北京市网友]:

Just by a glance can tell that he is a good chengguan who doesn’t accept dirty money, a good man. The person who reporte this is making a fuss out of nothing.

网易浙江省温州市网友 ip: 122.228.*.*: (responding to above)

I think this should be reported. It’s not easy to have good chengguan nowadays. [This report] lets people know that there’s still a good guy within the chengguang ranks. This is chengguan’s positive energy.

网易广东省广州市手机网友 ip:112.94.*.*: (responding to above)

Good, my ass. These goods are probably the plunder these beasts seized during the day while wearing their flashy uniforms.

2007-cwj [网易辽宁省鞍山市海城市网友]:

As a chengguan during the day, the government feeds him; As a street vendor at night, he feeds himself. Operating on behalf of both the government and himself, making use of time in pursuit of the maximization of profit.

Comments from QQ:

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腾讯杭州市网友 星星:

It’s no big deal at all. People should know there are differences between working time and off hours, between daytime and night. Aren’t there lots of night markets in lots of places at night? Besides, I think him being able to put aside face and earn money through his own hard work is cleaner than the dirty money of corrupt officials. The lawful income of chengguan isn’t high, and he may have difficulties, so what’s there to be exposed? What’s the big fuss about? Go expose more things of significance.

腾讯网友 金石开:

He is only an ordinary person, why can’t he be a street vendor? As long as he does it at a normal night market and doesn’t cause other people trouble. Life isn’t easy! Support!

腾讯网友 梦醒:

Personally, I think it’s OK!!! At least he works with his own hands and the money he makes is clean, not like many big figures, or big officials, where each one is more corrupt than another. I support this dude!!!

腾讯网友 冬眠兔:

It’s not as if all chengguan officers are bad, don’t lump all of them together!

腾讯网友 含笑饮砒霜:

Ha ha, undercover, so funny. But what he chooses to do at night in his off hours is his freedom, and it’s not like he’s doing anything illegal so why should everyone be so serious? If he was doing business by occupying the sidewalk illegally, then the Chengguan Bureau should give a good explanation, but they don’t have to make up some undercover job thing…

腾讯网友 心晴:

Come on, saying he’s an undercover mole is too much. Him being a street vendor is for supporting his family expenses. If it were explained like this, then everyone would be sympathetic [towards him].

腾讯网友 雨过天会晴。:

Tsk tsk, in the future if a policeman kills someone or breaks the law, they can also say he was just experiencing what it is like to commit a crime.

The undercover chengguan Gui.

Written by Peter Barefoot

Peter is a born and raised Chengdunese who enjoys drinking with all his friends.

  • donscarletti

    Seriously, I would be far more depressed to find out he is telling the truth. This guy is like Seth Rogan’s character in Observe and Report, a mall cop that thinks he’s a detective.

  • lonetrey / Dan

    Hmm. At first, I was like “oh, he got caught trying to make ends meet on his off hours?” before even reading the article.

    Then imagine my surprised when I double bluffed myself by thinking it was embarrassing for him to have gotten caught only 1 month into his assignment, and then realizing that many chinese netizens are thinking he might ACTUALLY be selling things as a vendor!

    Hmmm. He seems harmless…. but I’d guess he’s really an undercover guy who was caught by the media. Otherwise, if he were really a poor guy who’s a vendor on his off duty time, then it would mean that the female cop is _also_ a poor women trying to make money on her time off too. And that would be depressing :/

    • The Enlightened One

      I agree. Chances are they were in an undercover assignment… the alternative would be something like….

      They both got together and decided they wanted an affair but couldn’t afford stuff to decided to sell stuff on the streets because they couldn’t afford their lives as Cheng Guan.

      Well, this is China… so who knows… but my logical mind believes this REALLY was an undercover operation. But then again, LOGIC has no place in China so… maybe I should just drink paint thinner (bai jiu) and then I can see things here a little bit more clearly.

    • the ace of books

      I wonder what the chengguan’s salaries are.

      No, I really do wonder. I can’t imagine it’s that high, despite complaints and conspiracies in the opposite direction, and, like any police, there is a lot of downright shit to deal with in the job.

      Depressing is as depressing does. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and his colleague were moonlighting.

  • Acquai

    This article seems pretty uncontroversial. I’m struggling to pick holes in society boys.

    Someone help me out?

    • It’s Japan’s fault.

      • Dr Sun

        your’e damn straight, rotten Japs

    • YourSupremeCommander

      “I’m struggling to pick holes in society boys”

      mmmmm….. why do you want to pick holes in society boys? what do you plan on doing with those holes?

      • Mighty

        Poke. Not pick.

  • slob

    Let’s forget about the real criminals and use our resources to target people selling pineapple. Ahh, ’twas a good day for law enforcement.

    • Pineapple is a refreshing, tasty fruit.

      You don’t want the common people to go wild with lust and lascivious, unbridled fury. This ain’t Japan.

      Freakin’ 24 hour convenience stores. And their fruit.

  • The Chinese name of “Internal Affairs” is now conversant: 无间道, or no middle road.

    This guy has no morals, no compunctions, no law, no home. I can now hear his conversations with Anthony Wong on the roof:

    “Who am I? The cops all want to arrest me, and the vendors all want to kill me.”

    • Mighty

      “Infernal Affairs”.

      • The porn parody:

        This Ain’t Internal Affairs XXX: the Inter-Anal Files

        Synopsis: there are two moles hidden among them, and so they’ll need to peel back the layers and root out the problem.

        Ron Jeremy as the horrible, fame-obsessed preening jerk who is the least talented of all the leads and yet gets played by Jack Nicholsen.

        • Mighty曹

          I don’t know what I clicked (by accident) but Ron Jeremy keeps popping up with promises to enlarge my penis by 100%.

    • donscarletti

      无间道 means “infinite path”, a Chinese name for Avici, the worst level of Buddhist hell where beings reborn in it may never leave. “间” here means “bounded”, so 无间道 is a path without end (or beginning).

      • Justin

        I thought Avici was that douchey DJ.

        • Mighty曹

          Hey! Some of his mixes are pretty awesome.

      • Boris

        I’m no expert, but it sounds like Shen Zhen to me.

  • The Gui Identity

    • Mighty

      Oh, the gooey ID!

    • I think we’ve skipped the original trilogy and have gone straight to “The Gui Legacy”.

      Folks: did we need to see Hawkeye slumming it out in the Arctic? That movie was like trying to wean a crying baby by letting it cry itself out before paying attention to it at the good part after he meets his stupid love interest the genius doctor who is a flake.

      Or like a hard boiled egg that refused to cook.

    • the ace of books

      The tagline even works for this one too:

      He was the perfect weapon … until he became the target.

    • Zhegezhege

      Tinker, Tailor, Vendor, Chengguan.

  • The Enlightened One

    I think if it was an undercover operation, it is stupid. “Get into the minds of the vendors…”, what does that mean? They just sit there and sell stuff so they can earn money… what is there to think about? It’s not like they are criminals and need a psychoanalysis. I don’t think it warrants a sting operation or something.

    I think if it wasn’t an undercover operation and they really had to sell stuff on the streets(two Cheng Guan officers) then it is deplorable and pathetic. No wonder they bully vendors for money and goods. And the government should be embarrassed.

    Both results are lame. Cheng Guan are lame.

    • TJDubs

      It’s not a legit undercover operation unless he also got the bejesus beat out of him by patrolling Chengguan.

  • Mighty

    This Chengguan is definitely moonlighting to feed himself. His grossly underweight body is enough proof.

    • Dr Sun

      I wonder if during his undercover month if he ever got beaten up by the Chengguan ?

      • Mighty曹

        He must endure a savage beating to really learn “transpositional thinking”

        • Dr Sun

          lol, very true

        • TJDubs

          This. Without getting beat shitless, he didn’t live half the life of a street vendor.

          • Mighty曹

            Also have all his coffee mugs ‘confiscated’.

          • TJDubs

            Which are subsequently peddled by the confiscating chengguan officer when he goes “undercover”, setting off a brutal cycle.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    This is pretty funny. Why bother infiltrating an unorganized band of people peddling cheap useless stuff? To find the head of their organization?

    This has as much standing as FOX News’ concept of a ‘Gay Agenda’.

    • maja

      I thought it was common knowledge that you can ask some street sellers for merchandise they will not expose in the street…

    • the ace of books

      More like the Gui Agenda.


    It looks like a stiff wind could knock him down. Do these guys ever think of lifting weights to bulk up a bit. I know not the culture there but still, I just don’t understand. He looks like I did in high school.

    • YourSupremeCommander

      You looked like that in HS? No wonder you have to be a KAMIKAZIPILOT, I would kill myself too.


        Yeah I looked like that in HS, so did a lot of people. The thing is I gained over 50 lbs of mostly muscle since then through weightlifting and diet. You can be the person that the Kamikazipilot crashes into, LOL.

    • vincent_t

      he may be living a life that you never understand. He is very likely having hard time to make his ends meet. With the chengguan pathetic salary he better spend his free time to sell tea mug or do something that get him extra bucks. Asking him to workout is just like Queen Marie asking the starve peasant to eat cake.


        True but I still think it’s more of a cultural issue than a economic one. If you compare the middle class, Americans lift weights and work out much more than their Chinese counterparts. I guess Chinese don’t mind looking like a skeleton.

    • CCCP

      I looked like that the year after high school, cause I haven’t eaten meat for an entire year, only two small portions of potatoes or beans or buckwheat etc. a day (not that I turned vegetarian or anything, I just couldn’t afford meat and food in general, cause my parents cut me off financially once I finished high school). Though after living in China for a few years, I’ve regained my former weight and then some, thanks to the fact that food is much cheaper here than in my country.


        Ouch, so you’re eating better in China than your home country. That sounds pretty rough. As for me, I had enough to eat, I must have just had a fast metabolism so I couldn’t put on any weight until I got older.

    • the ace of books

      I can see what you mean, but I’d still like to offer a couple counter-arguments:

      1) money. Gym membership for a year at my local one is a third of my monthly salary, and I figure that’s a pretty good amount. My salary is twice what a just-graduated Zhou Shmoe’s going to be getting. So going to the gym is a financial step – it can be done, but it has to be a higher priority than “I’ll just go when I feel like it”. Otherwise that money can be spent on, yanno, food.

      2) lack of bulk. tbh, I haven’t seen many guys, as you say, “bulked-up” here. I’ve seen guys who’re strong, hell yes. I’ve seen total badasses, or partial badasses, and guys who’ve been doing various maritial arts for forever. But bulk? Naw, man. Guys around here – I guess they have to work harder to get muscle mass, and even then it doesn’t seem to show so much. I’ve had guys come to the gym and regularly lift more than me while being smaller.

      3) they don’t really care. being muscular, in the west, is an Indication Of Masculinity (for what that’s worth). Being muscluar, here, is … “okay, that’s nice” sort of thing. Like, it exists, some people are muscular, but it’s not a thing that’s striven for. Guys don’t go out of their way to get muscular.

      4) they want to spend their time in other ways. Car, house, girlfriend, you name it. Face it, it takes regular doses of time and effort at the gym to get muscular. That’s time and effort that guys over here just want to spend at other pursuits.


        1) I get the money part. I live in the U.S. and lifted weights off and on since college but never belonged to a gym, thought it was a waste of time, except my university gym when I was a student. Most of what I do I do at home with a few dumbbells and a bar and bench. That’s pretty much it. I don’t think you need much money to do basic strength training.

        2) Yes, Asian genetics plays a role definitely. However I think diet also plays a role as I see many Asian guys much bigger in the U.S. than I ever see in China when I visit.

        3) I think this is by far the biggest reason. After all many U.S. born Asians lift, whereas recent immigrants seldom do.

        4) Relates to #3, I guess being fit and strong just isn’t a high priority for Chinese.

  • stevelaudig

    Of course, leaving the vendors alone, except to make their lives easier is out of the question. Dopey law enforcement is world wide problem and China’s answer is just as stupid, in one respect it is more stupid since China [as the world’s oldest continuous civilization it has had much more time to find a just solution and hasn’t so therefore it is no better than other ‘shorter’ civilizations] hmmmm. Seniority cuts many ways.

  • vincent_t

    Oh hey, he is really an undercover! Look at the last picture, that guy is Osama pretending to be a Chinese! You can fake your look but you cannot fake your favorite gesture!! Somebody call 911!

  • Germandude

    I bet he was investigating to find the guy who is receiving the warning call from one of the other chengguans whenever there is a raid on streetsellers.
    As he has been exposed, the official story is that he was trying to experience their point of view. It’s better for publicity.

    • Yours is a good theory , but here’s a better spin:

      to prove that chengguan don’t partake in scallywagging or carpetbagging, one of their own went undercover as a vendor. He was not jolly ranched, and so therefore this is the exception that proves that chengguan are simply dandy and dander.

      • Germandude

        Ok. Let’s call mine the Einstein theory. Yours then becomes the Sarah Palin style assumption. lol

        • A wink and a smile. Gotcha.

  • the ace of books

    ….and then press blew his cover.

    • The way busts are made in China, the TV cameras are immediately following the heroic cops in front.

      I dunno, maybe the story got mixed up and they cut out the part where he jumps up and raids an evil barbershop or is able to stem the evil tide of pirated DVDs by busting some ayi who is trying to make enough money to send back home to buy school books for her child.

      • the ace of books

        Man, those TV cameras! Always there at the right moment! The people need to be entertained, after all. Priorities, don’tchaknow.

  • snitch gets stitches

    u fucking snitch… let the people make a living, their lives are tough as they are

  • malaiko

    what ever he is doing , u can tell he is not taking bride or corrupted….

  • Hmmmm, are we not a little bit suspicious as to how a chengguan can afford all those cup? hhmmmmmmmmmmm

  • eva

    这爆料的人是没事干吧= = 人家摆个地摊怎么了?

  • Irvin

    To be honest, street vendors does need to be regulated. I’ve seen bridges filled with trash, walk way so crouded with street vendors that’s hard even to walk.

    People all paint the chengguans to be the devil, but they are all just doing the jobs that no one wants to admit that’s necessary.

  • latefordinner

    street vendor goes undercover, gets job as chengguan just to find out what its like from the other side. You know, experience the life; taking bribes from those with something to lose, beating up and confiscating the merchandise from those too poor to resist.

  • mauser1898

    Did anyone notice that one of the pictures is ‘The journal kept by the chengguan officer while [posing undercover as a] street vendor.’? Is he real or not?

  • katie k

    He keeps a diary in a Hello Kitty notebook? Hilarious.

    • Mighty曹

      Good catch!

  • Karze

    Isn’t communism all about deception and force.

    • Mighty曹

      Deception: “Religion is the opiate of the masses”.
      Force: “Peace through the barrel of a gun” and “End justifies the means”.

      • Dr Sun

        I thought alcohol was the opium of the people (well that and opium)

        • Mighty曹

          Karl Marx was on both.