Menghua Street Wonton Reopened in Shanghai

Menghua Street Wonton was located on a small lane called Menghua Street in the old city area. The wonton stall was owned by two sisters who have already be in their 80s, and operated by the whole family. It was popular among lots of Shanghainese for the authentic flavor. However, it had to shut down the business for couple of months since the stall didn’t apply for a license for food business.

The first news report introduces the history and background of Menghua Street Wonton and reveals the reasons for it being shut down two years ago. Then the report analyzes the case from “Social Governance 社会治理” perspective to emphasize how to balance human relationship and law(人情和法理) and take benefit from the market.

This second report shows the how Menghua Street Wonton is related to politics, from a small case to a general view. Many Chinese political terms are used in response to current government strategy and direction to emphasize the reform.

People’s Daily: 是总理喊话让停业两年的梦花街馄饨复出吗?
Is it Premier’s appeal that saves the Menghua Street Wonton which has been closed for two years? 

Keyword: social governance (社会治理) , balance human relationship and law(人情和法理), innovation in governance(制度创新), marketization(市场化).

For the question of basic-level social governance, as a problem remains for more than 20 years, the government is facing a dilemma. On one hand, the family of Menghua Street Wonton started their own business after they lost their jobs, using a bowl of wonton to support the life of three families in difficulty for 20 years, which is a form of mass entrepreneurship. On the other hand, doing business without license violates the law and public safety. Asking Menghua Street Wonton to shut down is a way to protect the benefit of the majority. There is no ground for blame when executing the law without considering human relationship.

Human relationship and law are the controversy that the government always face in basic-level social governance. To solve the problem, the government need courage, as well as the wisdom to execute law in a moderate and acceptable way.

The small wonton shop reflects the big problem of social governance. Premier Li Keqiang appeals for these business when he visits Shanghai in Nov. 2016, using Menghua Street Wonton and A Da Fried Scallion Pancake as examples to say that those small food business could face problems like getting a legal license. “should be more thoughtful of the people involved and seek ways to achieve reciprocal benefits. Governance should not be labeled as “indifferent” and should have more sentiment on the people.” Law could not be changed, safety should be secured and harmony must be reached as well. For the case, the government should bring innovation into governance. As regulators, the government should have empathy, and take advantage of the “invisible hand” – the market.

Shanghai local government has spent lots of effort on this case. Before the Premier appeals, they made several backup plans for Menghua Street Wonton to come back, hoping that their good will of serving the people can actually help hem and stimulate the market. Finally after two years, Shanghai local government found a “hand of the market.”

People involved in this case says that it was marketization that helped Menghua Street Wonton reopen. “The government help people connect different side in the market and the enterprise interact with regulatory departments. People work together to save the traditional food of Shanghai.” This enterprise is Eleme. “In the past year, we communicated with the owner and the government for dozens of times. I was on spot for so many times,” said Eleme’s special assistant of CEO Zhen Yao.

Zhen Yao used to eat Menghua Street Wonton in childhood. “The stuffing is full, the soup is delicious and the pastry is good. I have been eating it since I was little kid so I do hope pass the flavor down to the next generation.” It’s really common to take away raw wontons in Shanghai. They are thinking under the background of “Internet,” enabling customers to buy Menghua Street Wonton only on Eleme, which would help the brand to achieve better performance in marketization.

Sina Finance: 阿大葱油饼、梦花街馄饨,这两家小食店为何让总理念念不忘?
Why do the Premier think of the two street food stands, A Da Fried Scallion Pancake and Menghua Street Wonton?

Keyword: streamlining government and delegating authorities, combining regulation and freedom and optimize governmental service(“放管服”) , reform, innovation in governance(制度创新), governmental service(政务服务)

Premier Li clarified that streamlining government and delegating authorities, combining regulation and freedom and optimize governmental service are the important content of the new reform, which is a great transition of the job of the government, as well as a core problem of pushing economic system reform and dealing with the relationship between the government and the market.

‘Under the complex international background and the stressful domestic economic situation,” to release the power of the market and innovation of the society by the new reform. This is the great potential of Chinese economy.’

Premier Li Keqiang says that since the government is elected, we have canceled and give the power to lower level government on administration approval for more than 618 cases, pushed the reform in business sector, taken innovative regulatory methods and focused on improving governmental service to release the power of the market and innovation of the society and help new business grow and traditional business upgrade.

He asked local department and government should consider the situation thoroughly to reform themselves, and then take more powerful action to push the new reform.

The Menghua Street Wonton and A Da Fried Scallion Pancake that always mentioned by Premier Li represent his higher expectation on the new reform.”