“Crackdown” on Counterfeit Goods – A Daylight Robbery

A quiet street as a result of the business strike in Shenyang. (Liu Siyu/Weibo)
A quiet street as a result of the business strike in Shenyang. (Liu Siyu/Weibo)

Ninety percent of businesses in Shenyang are closed indefinitely

The local authorities of Shenyang, Liaoning Province, are issuing severe fines to business owners in an effort to get rid of counterfeit goods. It is also for punishing those who evade taxes. But many believe the true reason is to raise funds for the National Sports Competition to be held next year. As a result, shops in Shenyang and neighbouring areas have stopped their business activities to protest against this latest government policy. A Chinese analyst pointed out that the economy under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is difficult to maintain economically and thus involves different methods of plundering the people.

On Aug 6, netizens started to comment about the closed businesses in Shenyang, saying that it was difficult to even buy a bottle of soy sauce and that there seems to be an atmosphere of panic among the locals. The mainland media also reported that the 2013 Shenyang National Sports Competition has a funding gap totalling more than 1 billion yuan (>$US157 million). This funding gap may help to explain the systematic fines to local businesses.

A netizen from Shenyang, Xiao Li, commented in the Tencent Weibo microblog: “Shenyang Wuai Market, Nanhu Hardware Market and Huaxiang Hardware Market were being investigated one after the other. The investigations resulted in business owners being heavily fined. For example, selling toothpicks without a deforestation permit and selling tofu without wearing a mask. Both attract a fine of 5000 yuan [$US800].”

A shop owner along Wuai Street, Shenyang, told NTDTV that the “crackdown on counterfeit goods” movement is an open way to take money from locals and create more revenue for the government. This started in the middle of July and since a few days ago, all businesses have stopped trading activities to avoid losing more money due to the authoritarian fines.

The shop owner added: “The authorities admitted that they did not have enough money for the National Sports Competition. They therefore fined us for minor violations. Large businesses may be fined up to 100,000 yuan (~$US15,500). Small businesses may be fined up to 30,000 yuan (~$US4500). The business owners in Shenyang have collectively stopped operations to protest against this government policy. Currently, all businesses in the surrounding cities, including Anshan, Fushun and Dandong, have also stopped operations.”

Due to the widespread backlash, the Liaoning Public Security Bureau publicly confirmed on Aug 7 that the Shenyang crackdown on counterfeit goods would be paused.

The shop owner also said that on the same day his business was fined, authorities sent military troops into the streets to broadcast a radio message about people inciting rumours. Some business owners feared political reprisals and thus resumed their business operations. However, others remained closed because of the fines’ economic pressures.

A human rights activist, Hu Jun, pointed out that although this incident seemed ridiculous to the outside world, it is in fact a common phenomenon in China. “The government has now come to the stage of forced fines to business owners; it is just daylight robbery. They use all sorts of tricks to make money from private businesses. The CCP does not provide any fair exchange of services. However, it does know it has power and therefore, it plunders,” says Hu Jun. “In China, the people know that an officer will make money and that with money comes the rank of an officer. This runs contrary to the principles of a market economy.”

Hu Jun concluded that the current strike by business owners in Shenyang and neighbouring areas might possibly result in additional street demonstrations.

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