Shenzhen Rolls Out Legislation To Enforce “Civilized” Behavior, But Will It Work?

Shenzhen civilized city

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)

9 Responses to “Shenzhen Rolls Out Legislation To Enforce “Civilized” Behavior, But Will It Work?”

  1. Chinese Netizen

    Definitely. Legislation for civilized behavior will work just as moral education worked, anti-corruption worked, non-smoking areas worked, queuing up works, and driving with common courtesy works

    Reply
  2. Chackie Jan

    If enforced properly like in Singapore it could work, but I doubt it’s possible to enforce this. But once it gets going it could last. It’s easier for people to throw rubbish on an already filthy street. Takes a more strong-willed litterer to chuck stuff about when the streets are totally clean. Plus, when it becomes rare it’ll be more of a face issue. Right now people aren’t even double taking when they see someone urinating in public.

    Reply
  3. laowai88

    How about legislation to make police officers actually get out of their cars and direct traffic at busy intersections….laws without enforcement are useless….

    Reply
  4. Mano

    This totally will not be enforced. Chinese are too arrogant to comply.

    There will be videos on youku along the lines of “Chengguan stops man for smoking” with content like “how dare you try to stop me you lowly peasant, don’t you know who I am? I will have you, your family, and your neighbors killed by the end of the day or being a party member is useless!”

    Reply
  5. SeaHorse

    This will not work. The only thing that can really work is educating kids not to spit and recycle and wait for the next generation.

    Reply
  6. Gay Chevara

    I can see this working perfectly. Designated no-smoking areas, no jaywalking, stand on the right on escalators… Why would this NOT work? It’s got success written all over it.

    Reply
  7. KopyKatKiller

    in making this law are they admitting the painfully obvious fact that many mainlanders are not civilized creatures? How dare they! Obviously the Shenzhen government is a racist organization that hates China. Don’t they know that China has 4 million years of civilization?!

    Reply
  8. Chackie Jan

    What I’d like to see is a zombie-movie, or a virus-movie situated in China. Let me paint you a little picture:

    EXT Beijing
    – Helicopter shot of Beijing, heavily polluted.
    Voice-over: “It was 2014, I remember vividly…”
    – Helicopter goes down, under smog cloud, shows flyover of Forbidden City.
    Voice-over: “The year of the horse, the year of Death.”
    —- Background-music starts playing Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around.
    – Helicopter pans over Beijing, rotating faster and faster.
    ///MASSIVE EXPLOSION – sound of screaming and yelling
    Fade-out to white.

    Fade-in.
    Voice-over: “But let’s go back. It was 2012 and boy, we were happy.”
    – Camera pans along Chinese street, some hipsters dancing Gangnam Style.
    Voice-over: “But underneath, like a snake lurking, and in 2013, the year of the Snake, it slowly crawled out. Unnoticed at first, but that soon began to change. We all read the reports, we all heard the jokes about Beijing cough. I mean, dammit, we all knew it, and we laughed.”
    – Camera pans further, shows a tubie spitting on the sidewalk. A kid being held up by his mother urinating against a wall, raw meat lying in the street.
    Voice-over: “And then, sometime after New Year, it started happening. One of my friends called in sick, some sort of blood thing they said at the hospital after we came to see his body. The doctors were vague, so vague.”
    – Camera zooms out, shows entire street with spitting all over the place.
    Voice-over: “But then it happened. He was dead, alright. He was. But apparently the PM 2.5 particles enter the brain and mess it up in some weird way. Shit, I don’t know. I’m an accountant. I just punch numbers. Well, and I thought my number had come up. If it wasn’t for the guard pulling his gun and shooting him, I wouldn’t be here telling you this. But I digress…that night I was sitting at home watching TV..”
    – Close-up of TV-set with CCTV on, fades into actual broadcast.
    CCTV: “Thousands have died over the past few weeks, but authorities say it is part of the yearly flu epidemic and nothing to be worried about. Meanwhile, the government leaders are out of the country for a trip to the USA.”
    Voice-over: “Convenient that.”
    – Sound of a knock on the door.
    Guy (voice-over voice): “Yo, wait a second, be right there.”
    – Sound of knocking again.
    Guy: “Dude! A minute!”
    – Sound of scratching and gnawing.
    Guy: “What the fuck.”
    – Guy looks through peep-hole.
    – Full-view fish-eye lens camera shot of a zombie. RAAAAAAH! 大脑!!!!

    Reply
  9. TGT G

    The regulations show an effort and awareness. I think it will at least change some people’s (not necessarily all) behavior.
    Also, once the Chinese government decides to do something, I think they will make sure it happens-sometimes for a matter of “face”. So despite all the factors that can potentially causes the regulation to fail, I am still curious to see what’s coming!

    Reply

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