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A foreigner's view on the closure

By Michael Werkmeister | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-12 07:59

Michael Werkmeister from Germany has lived in Shanghai for 15 years and is a regular customer of the bars along Yongkang Road.

I just returned to Shanghai from a trip and was surprised to see that Yongkang Road had changed.

We've all heard that the majority of the bars were closed mainly because they didn't obtain business licenses or have a permit to sell alcohol. On the Chinese landlord side there might have been illegal renting out of housing space and using it for commercial activity. I also heard that some expatriates did some illegal things, such as taking drugs in the small alleys of the neighborhood.

The bar managers must shoulder the responsibility for making sure customers stay within the law. Back in Germany, any bar manager that finds a customer whose behavior is problematic will ask him or her to behave, or leave. It should be the same here.

I came to the street a lot although I don't live or work nearby. I loved to grab a beer, read newspapers and watch soccer games here. But I didn't come at night. I knew people's behavior was sometimes excessive here after dark, which brought about the conflict with residents.

I love Yongkang Road and it seems far more interesting to me than Tianzifang or Xintiandi. This place is non-commercial and so natural and real. It reminds me of my home city Berlin, where we can see communities with shops on the first floor and residents living upstairs. But maybe Yongkang Road is overloaded with bars, which caused the problems.

My house is close to Hongmei Entertainment Street, a pedestrianized street independent from the adjacent residential communities and filled with foreign restaurants and bars. It is near the Gubei area where many expatriates live, and therefore there are fewer disputes.

I hope the bars on Yongkang Road can be reopened while avoiding any serious impact on the surrounding residents.

Michael Werkmeister spoke with Zhou Wenting


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