The English language discussion of Kunming’s ongoing environmental protests should not exclude China’s official media reports. The translation below is of a 5/28 article from the Southern Weekend website.
Yunnan’s Anning City Retracts Notice on Face Mask Registration
from Southern Weekend （南方周末）May 28, 2013
More than 200 copies of a ‘Letter of Guarantee’ have been signed by vendors of advertising services, printing services, copy services, face masks, and t-shirts. These vendors promise to strictly follow national laws and regulations regarding their commercial business and promise not to speak of rumors, create rumors, or spread rumors. They promise not to participate in any form of information broadcasting, forwarding of messages, and not to participate in sit-ins, protests, or demonstrations of any kind. They promise to not print, create, or publish things related to the Anning PetroChina Oil Refinery or the “China-South Asia “Expo or advertisements, propaganda materials, or any materials of negative influence. This “Letter of Guarantee” goes into effect on the day of signing and is valid through June 30, 2013 and sales of all services above must also be accompanied by ID registration of the purchaser. –Official statement from the Kunming Economic Development Zone Industry and Commerce Bureau.
The exposure of Anning’s required ID registration of face mask purchases has stirred up considerable public debate. On the evening of 5/25, the Anning City government’s press office issued a statement saying Anning’s Industry and Commerce Bureau will retract the notice on face mask registration. But according to a report on 5/27, the “Procedure for registration of face mask purchases” was still in effect for much of the Kunming municipality and was not exclusive to Anning City. Registration is still required for printing, copying, and publication services.
Face mask purchases require registration? Printing and copying too.
According to a 5/25 report from the Southern Metropolis News, on 5/24, an internet user revealed via Weibo that Anning City’s Industry and Commerce Bureau issued notice on “Strengthening monitoring work concerning the sale of face masks” which required vendors of face masks within the Anning locality to implement the ID registration of face mask sales starting 5/21. Many owners of pharmacies have confirmed with this reporter of their receipt of this notice. Internet users expressed confusion over this issue and assume it is related to Kunming’s recent oil refinery protests because the refinery site is in Anning. As a result more Kunming residents are wearing face masks to express opposition.
On the evening of 5/25, Anning city commission’s propaganda department published the following press release on its official Weibo account: The Anning City Industry and Commerce Bureau has decided to immediately retract the notice on “Strengthening monitoring work concerning the sale of face masks” and issues an apology to its great citizens and consumers. At the same time, we thank the city’s masses, media, and internet friends for their concern and monitoring of the work of Anning City’s Industry and Commerce Bureau.
Anning City’s press release did not explain the reason behind the issuance of the notice requiring the registration of face mask purchases.
Yet according to a 5/27 Southern Metropolis News report, many internet users say that face mask purchase registrations not only have appeared in Anning, but also in Kunming’s other subordinate districts and counties.
The Kunming municipality has six districts, four counties, three autonomous counties, and one city under its jurisdiction. Southern Metropolis has made phone calls to pharmacies located in each of Kunming’s downtown districts and Anning, as well as pharmacies in seven counties, and one other (non-urban) district. With the exception of Dongchuan district and Shilin (Stone Forest) Yi Autonomous county, pharmacies in all remaining six counties are requiring registration of face mask purchases. A pharmacy worker in Kunming’s Panlong district has confirmed the registration of face mask purchases in his store.
In addition, the scale of registration is not restricted to sales of “face masks.” Many copy/printing shops in downtown Kunming have confirmed with this reporter that that printing and copy sales must also be accompanied by ID registration.
Is this for the Avian flu prevention? Rather “To Warmly Welcome the China-South Asia Expo”
According to a 5/26 Yunnan Information News report, on 5/25 the Anning City Industry and Commerce Bureau Chief Yao Jingwei told a reporter that the face mask registration was a temporary measure to prevent the spread of avian flu and a convenient way to keep data on disease transmission.
In the evening of 5/25 the reporter contacted Yao Jingwei for a second time. He informed the reporter that the notice had been retracted. “Originally this was done for good intentions, but today (5/25) the internet impact was huge.” Anning City’s Industry and Commerce Bureau’s Discipline and Inspection Group Chief Cheng Yong also expressed that the notice’s retraction was a result of the public’s inability to accept the procedure of face mask registration.
According to a Southern Weekend 5/21 online report, from the discovery of H7N9 Avian flu to the present day, China’s Health Ministries and Bureaus have reported 130 cases of H7N9, but none of the cases was diagnosed in Yunnan and no evidence of the H7N9 avian flu virus has been found in Yunnan. Also on 5/20, the day before Anning City’s Industry and Commerce Bureau issued the notice, Jiangsu province, Zhejiang province and many other provinces and cities officially ended their previously implemented preventative measures towards avian flu because flu transmission had considerably subsided.
Also, the Yunnan Information News report also mentioned that Bureau chief Yao Jingwei and Discipline and Inspection Group chief Cheng Yong both mentioned that the “notice’s issuance was also in consideration of warm welcoming of the China-South Asia Expo.”
A pharmacy employee in Kunming’s Panlong district expressed in a Southern Metropolis News report, “I don’t dare sell. There’s a notice from above that during the China-South Asia Expo we can’t sell face masks.”
Official reports also show that ID registration of printing and copying services is related to the China-South Asia Expo. According to two work notices posted on the Kunming Municipality Industry and Commerce Bureau’s official website, require that Industry and Commerce bureaus located in Kunming’s economic zones and the Chenggong district must enforce the registration of printed and copied materials in order to guarantee the success of the China-South Asia Expo.
The China-South Asia Expo is the first of its kind hosted by the Ministry of Commerce (national level) and the Yunnan Province Civil Affairs Department and will run from June 6-10. The Expo will include activities to promote the business products and services, leadership summits, investment cooperation, and cultural exchange. According to a Kunming Daily report Kunming Municipal Commission Secretary Zhang Youxi has expressed that arranging for Kunming’s hosting of the China-South Asia Expo was a difficult task. He continued saying the Expo holds extremely significance importance for promoting Kunming as a bridgehead (gateway) city, raising the Kunming’s exposure as a city open to the world, and assisting Kunming’s emergence as a modern city.
The official Chinese version of this article is found here.