‘Baby frog toy’ craze triggers discussion over street vending in China
Published: May 15, 2023 02:35 PM
A vendor wearing a frog-shaped suit sells frog toys at a local market in Shanghai on April 23, 2023. Photo: VCG

A vendor wearing a frog-shaped suit sells frog toys at a local market in Shanghai on April 23, 2023. Photo: VCG

Some vendors wearing a frog-shaped suit have been seen selling "baby frog" toys in several cities across China. However, a video addressing Shanghai market regulators' enforcement toward the vendors has triggered a wide discussion among Chinese netizens whether more space should be given to street vending.
A video that went viral online showed a city official in Shanghai requesting that a vendor wearing a frog-shaped suit to take off the frog costume. The images quickly became a controversial topic online on Chinese-twitter like Sina Weibo, according to media reports.
As of press time, the topic had accumulated more than 110 million views on Weibo, with some calling for reasonable and appropriate enforcement toward the street vendors who were not creating an adverse impact for the local community. Others expressed their understanding toward regulators as simply trying to uphold a pleasant environment for all members of the public.  

"Life is not easy. More understanding is needed," one netizen wrote. "But sometimes the street vendors indeed disrupt residents as some will keep asking you to buy," another netizen wrote.

The image of "mother frog" selling "baby frogs" made people think about these vendors' difficult life, nobody wants to sell "babies," some netizens argued. But some said this is only a promotion to use the image of "mother frog" selling "baby frogs."
Xu Zhihu, director of the Shanghai Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau, replied on May 12 in a media program that the frog toy sellers' behavior violated city management regulations implemented on December 1, 2022 which regulates that individuals and units are prohibited from setting up stalls and selling goods in public places without authorization.
However, the authorities generally promote education and other non-punishment methods toward those acts of new business models which have a relatively minor impact on the community. If they correct their mistakes in the early stage without serious consequences, then we still advocate "exemption from punishment," according to Xu.
While promoting a vibrant urban environment, authorities also need to constantly innovate regulatory approach, to improve governance of new business models and upgrade urban services levels, Xu said.
Chinese officials have been making effort to strengthen support to self-employed businesses, which make up two thirds of the market players and create countless jobs. There are 169 million market entities in the county, of which 114 million have been registered as self-employed businesses, according to data from the State Administration for Market Regulation. 
Netizens offered support to those street vendors, and more innovative measures are also being explored to implement during regulation enforcement. 

On April 16, a male from East China's Anhui Province who held a full-time job during the day, and wore frog-shaped suit at night to sell "baby frog" toys, was found crying on the street before a police officer came to comfort him, according to media reports.

In Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province in April, a resident wearing a frog-shaped suit who rode an electric bicycle was stopped by a police officer for not wearing a helmet, according to media reports. The resident was fined 20 yuan ($2.87) and received an overview of the rules before leaving, this time wearing a helmet.