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July 26, 2012

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Vendor thugs on Qipu Road assault expats who won't buy

SOME vendors of knock-off goods have turned violent, tailing foreigners and beating them if they refuse to buy their goods on Shanghai's popular Qipu Road market street, which is commonly known as the "Cheap Road."

More than 10 such vendors were seen yesterday wandering around the market street. Some were muscular guys holding little English-language advertisements, waiting for foreign customers and tailing them to make their pitch in broken English.

Some foreigners reluctant to purchase the over-priced goods or trying to get rid of the harassment are beaten at shady spots where other vendors set up an ambush. They assaulted quickly and escape before the police arrive, a Shanghai Daily investigation found.

If a foreigner is accompanied by a Chinese person, the vendors usually beat the Chinese because they will be punished more severely if they hurt a foreigner, a vendor said.

In a recent case, Steven Bateman, an expat from England, told Shanghai Daily that he and his wife encountered an "unprovoked physical attack" by vendors who tailed them at the Qipu Road market on July 1.

Bateman said that "an unpleasant-looking man," around 170cm and wearing a blue and white striped rugby shirt, started tailing them when they went into a shopping mall at about 2pm.

The man repeatedly asked them to go to his store for some "Armani jeans," and although the couple tried to ignore him, the man followed them for more than 30 minutes. A tall, strong friend joined in, tailing the couple, Bateman wrote in a column for

As the couple approached the elevators, one of the vendors caught his wife on the back, "raising his hand, muttering threats to hit her," he wrote. "Suddenly the first punch was thrown, striking my wife across her right cheek."

Then the guy struck the woman a second time, and another man started punching and kicking Bateman, he said. The two men fled before police arrived.

"I was totally shocked," said Bateman. "All we did was to ignore them in the shopping mall but they openly attacked us."

Police said they are still investigating.

Bateman said they learned that on the same day, a man was caught for attacking a foreign customer. Security guards at the shopping malls told Shanghai Daily that quarrels and bodily contacts among foreign customers and shop vendors are quite common during bargaining for price.

Many Chinese customers are also complaining online, saying they have been cursed or beaten by vendors when trying to get a better price.

Ding Xiang, a fake good vendor from Anhui Province, told Shanghai Daily that they are "trained and asked to follow the foreigners from the first step they take in the stores till the last step when they walk out, to prevent other vendors from stealing their business."

Foreigners are rich so should pay more, Ding said. He said he dislikes foreigners because of some highly publicized incidents in which foreigners treated Chinese poorly.


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