China makes noise in hunt for ‘frog street vendors’…”Just cut me some slack!”

A frog with a pitiful-looking face. With a bulging belly and two hands full of frog toys. Around his neck is a muffler and a QR code necklace for payment.

This cute but pitiful-looking frog has become a star on Chinese portals and social media this year. The combination of its pitiful appearance and the fact that it sells small frog toys as if it were selling its own children has captivated users.

■China: ‘Frogs’ appear in every city center…even street chases

These “frog vendors” have been popping up on the streets of urban centers in China, chasing passersby and selling toys. With their cute and pitiful appearance, these frog vendors are getting a lot of love and attention from passersby, but they’ve been causing a stir in China lately with street chases all over the place. The vendors are so-called “mobile stalls” that operate without a permit and have been targeted by authorities.

A frog vendor fleeing a crackdown. (Source: Reuters)

They look pitiful just standing there, especially when they’re fleeing the crackdown. You even feel like helping them. Even among Chinese social media users, photos and videos of frog vendors targeted by the crackdown have been circulating, sparking sympathy.

But there’s a catch. It’s not just the frog vendor’s appearance that has Chinese social media users feeling sympathetic.

■The recession behind the ‘frog vendor’…”Oh, if only”

China is struggling with high unemployment these days. As of April this year, the national unemployment rate stood at 5.2%. By age group, the unemployment rate for those aged 25 to 59 stood at 4.2%, while the unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 stood at 20.4%, exceeding 20% for the first time.

High unemployment has long been a social issue in South Korea, but it’s lower than in China. As of the same April, South Korea’s overall unemployment rate stood at 2.7% and the unemployment rate for 15-29 year olds was 6.4%.
Of course, this is a simple numerical comparison, but it’s enough to give you an idea of the severity of the situation in China.

It’s especially concerning that unemployment hasn’t improved as much as hoped, even after the “reopening” of the country’s economy as the COVID-19 pandemic eased.

The ‘frog vendors’ have taken to the streets in the midst of this economic downturn, and it’s precisely for this reason that Chinese well-wishers are so compassionate. In short메이저놀이터, they’re “struggling to make ends meet” and “trying to survive somehow,” so why shouldn’t we grab them?

Of course, based on local media reports, most of the crackdowns seem to be more of a wake-up call than actual punishment. However, users are still criticizing the authorities, saying, “They’re just walking around blending in with the crowd, so what’s the harm in cracking down on them,” and likening it to a big frog selling a little frog, “Why would they come out to sell their own children?

Photos of frog vendors caught in the crackdown have appeared in Chinese media articles and on social media, including a boy believed to be a teenager and an elderly gray-haired man. The “salty” identity of these frog vendors adds to the sympathy.

(Source: Chinese portal site comments)

■China’s ‘street economy’ revival: Will it embrace ‘frog vendors’?

In 2020, the Chinese government came out with the “street economy” card to revive its economy. Up until then, street vendors had been frowned upon for damaging urban aesthetics and the environment, and the government was determined to revitalize the street economy to boost domestic demand and create jobs. In June of that year, then-Premier Li Keqiang referred to the street economy as a major source of jobs and a source of vitality for China. Until recently, regulations on street vendors have continued to be relaxed.

While the authorities cracking down on frog vendors may have a different perspective, public opinion in China already seems to see them as part of the street economy – they’re not trying to make a fortune, they’re just trying to feed their families amid high unemployment, and they’ve figured out a way to do it on their own, so rather than crack down on them, they should be given a chance to operate legally.

Now it’s up to the Chinese government, and if they open their minds just a little bit, we may see frog vendors taking their place as the protagonists of the street economy and mascots of the downtowns instead of the salty chase.

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