The clocking is ticking down on the start of the second China International Import Expo, less than 30 days to go. The Xujing urban management and law enforcement team is ready and waiting.
The team has 32 members, including 22 front-line law enforcement staff. Their jurisdiction covers 30 square kilometers, including the National Exhibition and Convention Center in the Qingpu District where the high-profile event will be held from November 5 to 10.
The team’s duties span nearly 300 activities, including “cleaning up” areas adjacent to the exhibition center. They have dismantled unauthorized structures in apartment blocks, closed down illegal stalls, cleared unlawful outdoor advertisements, removed junk stored in public spaces and confiscated unauthorized flyers.
Zheng Wen, 30, has been a member of the team since 2013.
Unlike other women whose mobile phones are full of their own photos, her device is filled with photos of various law enforcement information.
She formerly worked in corporate human resources before joining the team.
"Law enforcement is a very serious matter and it allows no mistakes," said Zheng. "You may make mistakes in other jobs and you have the chance to remedy them, but when you issue a rectification notice, you must follow it through. You have to keep a clear mind about which legal terms apply in different cases."
The team’s workload is indeed heavy. Members work weekends and holidays, and each was on duty at least one day during the National Day holiday.
The law enforcement officials spend most of their time outdoors, no matter what the weather.
A special team for the preparation of CIIE, including Zheng, was formed in 2015.
"At times, I was so busy that I didn’t have time to go to the toilet," said Zheng of various assignments the team has been given.
But the hard work has paid off.
Xiewei Road near the expo venue used to be dirty and rundown area, filled with jerry-built illegal structures. It took Zheng and her colleagues about two months to clear it all out. The road today is neat and orderly.
"It is quite a relief to see the environment now and feel our efforts were worthwhile,” said Zheng.
Zheng is the only woman on the team.
“My parents tried to persuade me to find a less demanding job, but my mind was made up,” she said. "Compared with my male counterparts, I have some advantages. Sometimes it’s easier for a woman to communicate with others, especially in situations where tempers are flaring.”
In 2015, she had no rest for 10 days during the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition at the National Exhibition and Convention Center. She patrolled the streets on the lookout for illegal street vendors and unlawful ad flyers. She even got into a tussle once with an illegal street vendor.
The team recently waged a campaign against irregularities in home rentals and the practice of switching residential properties to businesses near the exhibition center.
They have also stepped up the crackdown on the illegal dumping of construction wastes and leakage of construction waste near the convention site.
The crackdown on illegal ads resulted in the removal of 82 LED screens in Xujing Town and 19 illegal billboards on Xuling Road. Fifty sign boards at Jinyun Village were also cleared.
The team has also been involved in fining residents and businesses that don’t comply with the city’s new trash-sorting rules. Some 26 cases have resulted in fines of 117,500 yuan (US$16,480).
Most team members were born in the 1970s and 80s. The majority don’t live in the expo area and have to commute up to an hour a day to work.
The team responds to all public complaints.
"Complaints that go to us account for up to 80 percent of total complaints in Qingpu," said Wang Jian, another law enforcement official of the team. "There are many construction sites in the area, and flying dust and night construction disturbs nearby residents."
It took Wang and his colleagues a whole year to eliminate illegal night food stalls in Xujing Town.
"They kept coming back after we closed them down,” he said.
Wang said officers responding to complaints about unauthorized structures at residential blocks sometimes involve uncooperative residents.
"They keep their doors closed when we visit, and a few have cursed us," he said. “Sometimes, those involved have been living overseas.”
The team liaises with land planning authorities to ascertain whether structures are illegally built. In cases where greenery is damaged, Wang said team members seek guidance from municipal greenery authorities to determine whether flora is on any protection list.
During the first import expo, the team patrolled 1,224 streets, and conducted 851 inspections. More than 400 people were stopped for irregularities.
Citywide, 3,571 irregularities regarding the expo site were identified by Shanghai Urban Management and Law Enforcement between January and August. More than 1,600 cases of illegal vendors, illegal structures and signboards were handled. The rest will be corrected before mid-October, the bureau said.
"The city's urban management and law enforcement teams will focus on 90 main streets, 35 landscape areas, 80 hotels and seven transport hubs in the area of expo,” said Xu Zhihu, director of the bureau. "Intelligent urban management methods will be used to improve efficiency, and day-and-night patrols will be implemented during the event."
He concluded, "The goal is to attain the highest standard of urban management and best environment."