Shenzhen prides itself on being one of China’s most “civilized” cities. Now it’s drafting legislation to back it up.
On March 1, Shenzhen will become the first Chinese city to enforce civil behavior by law. According to Shenzhen Daily:
Shenzhen’s Civilized Behavior Promotion Law lists 10 public behaviors that are deemed uncivilized and lead to fines for violators. The cited behaviors included spitting in public, smoking in a non-smoking place, failing to clean up pet’s excrement in public, damaging public sanitation facilities and more.
The law is the result of a year’s worth of public debate last year. Both locals and expats were asked to list the most uncivilized behaviors prevalent in the city along with suggested punishments.
Originally, fines for violators were to range from 200 yuan for spitting and littering to 500 yuan for smoking in non-smoking areas to 10,000 yuan for vandalism of public facilities. However, the final draft is likely to leave out specific numbers to allow for more situation-based enforcement. Violators will also have the option to apply for community service to offset up to half of their fines.
The public generally supports the law, but raised questions about it. Some, like office worker Yang Chao, thinks the law lacks the specifics to be effective. As quoted in SZ Daily: “How can you fine passengers for littering on a bus? If someone vomits on a bus because of carsickness, should he or she be fined too?”
Meanwhile, expat Kevin Smith doesn’t think the law goes far enough. “It’s a good law, but something is missing, I regularly see parents or grandparents let their children pee on the floor, this should be added to the list,” he told SZ Daily.
But perhaps the toughest challenge the city will face is enforcement, which will be carried out by the notorious chengguan. As China Daily reported last July:
Wang Ming, an employee at an export and import company, said he welcomed the new measures but was concerned about how the laws will be enforced.
“I hate spitting very much, but I’m afraid if such behaviors get fined the urban management officers will have too much power, and I’m afraid the power will be misused,” he said.
We wonder why he feels that way.
Civility law to take effect March 1 (Shenzhen Daily)