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Anti-fraud fought in commercial street
Latest Updated by 2006-04-06 10:45:40
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Nearly 90 per cent of the shopping outlets on the Guangdong side of Zhongying (Sino-English) Street closed overnight under the local government's stronger attack on commercial fraud.

The street, located in the Yantian District about 20 kilometres east of the downtown area, was once a shopping paradise but now is achieving notoriety for cheating and violence.

A mere stone stands in the middle of the 250-metre-long, less-than-four-metre-wide commercial street, dividing it into two parts: The north side is governed by Guangdong Province, and the south side belongs to Hong Kong.

On the north side, only a few shops were opened on a muggy Wednesday afternoon. On the other side, the businesses were also quiet.

"The prime time has gone," the owner of a jewellery store on the Hong Kong side said.

Tens of thousands of people holding a special passport had swarmed into the small but flourishing street to experience "one street, two systems" and buy diversified commodities and food made in different countries in the '80s and early '90s.

However, the area began to lose its lustre after Hong Kong's return to motherland, which provides more convenient access for mainland people to visit Hong Kong. The situation worsened after mainland authorities allowed the citizens in several cities to travel to Hong Kong for personal reasons in July 2003.

"We have seen fewer and fewer visitors; sometimes our salespeople outnumber the visitors," the owner said.

"Much worse, there are so many businessmen who have seriously violated the rules by cheating the customers or forcing them to buy their poor quality products,

"The government should take efforts to restore the buyers' confidence and the credibility of the shopping outlets as soon as possible."

The Yantian District government has set up a joint action team to crack down on the commercial fraud on Zhongying Street. Team members raided two stores on Friday, confiscating some products they determined to be illegal, Shenzhen Commercial Daily reported.

A publicity officer of the district government confirmed that the action will be upgraded to better protect the consumers, but they did not disclose the details.

"People from around the country can be victimized if we don't stop the malpractice taking place on Zhongying Street," said the officer.

"Our actions won't hurt the businessmen with good practices, and they will build a better business environment there."

"The last time I went to Zhongying Street was 10 years ago with a friend who was going to marry," said Zhan Weiming, who has lived in the city for more than 20 years. "We bought some gold jewellery there since the price was cheaper, the handwork was better and the options were greater."

He also remembered a time when people jammed the small stores on Zhongying Street, snatching the daily necessities and food from the salespeople before Chinese New Year.

However, nowadays visitors to the street go there just for sightseeing instead of buying things because of its bad reputation.

Zhang Danfeng, a manager with Shenzhen Shatoujiao Tourism Co, said the average number of visitors the company received was down to about 300 a day.

"They seldom buy things while walking around the street," Zhang said.

The Shenzhen city government has invested about 100 million yuan (US$12.5 million) to improve the facilities of the Zhongying Street area, with a plan to build it into a destination of cultural and historical heritage.

Editor: Yan

By: Chen Hong Source: China Daily Website
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