Baohan Community on Dengfeng Street, a famous “African village” in Guangzhou, has long been dirty and disorderly for lack of effective governance. To provide a better living environment in the village, the government of Yuexiu District initiated a plan a year ago to implement a series of steps to improve public services and otherwise help African residents in the district.
In Baohao Community, homes for rent are densely congested. Ethnic minorities and foreigners live there. In the past, streets in the community were occupied by various illegal booths, such as fruit stands, barbecue stalls and kiosks selling fake designer handbags. Illegal currency exchanges took place. People sat in the middle of the street to eat and drink. African singers played guitar and sang loudly. For these reasons, cars could not pass through and city management and public security issues were problematic.
Therefore, city leaders secretly investigated the area and decided to make changes to solve the problems. A law enforcement team, composed of 300 members from various government agencies, persuaded or ordered the illegal booth-keepers and vendors to remove their stalls to better surroundings. Law enforcement agents patrol the village in an effort to maintain order and safety. And foreigners are required to obey the alien management system. For example, if they want to live in Guangzhou, they need to go to the foreigners’ general service hall to complete registration procedures.
At the same time, the government is seeking to provide foreigners with better public services. The city has established a service center in Baohan Community. Instead of going to illegal intermediaries, foreigners now can exchange currency in the China Bohai Bank in the village. Many other essential services are now also offered at the service center, such as international remittance assistance, travel guidance, international direct dialing, house renting and legal advice. Free Chinese courses are offered every Tuesday through Friday, designed specifically for foreigners in the Baohan community. And among other activities offered to foreigners are assistance in sharing home cooking and making zongzi.
(By Li Qian, Louis Berney)