Recently, the urban management board of Xinzhou District, Shangrao city, Jiangxi Province, forcibly removed business content from store signage, on the grounds that “store signboards contain advertising content.” The case has sparked controversy. Some lawyers argue that the urban management board’s behavior violates the law.

An online video shows on August 1, several officers in urban management uniforms dismantling the signboard of a restaurant called “Good Things Happen,”, which also advertizes “whole-wheat pasta, pizzas”

The restaurant owner told the reporter that the city government said that the signboard can only have the store name, not any business content. He added that the restaurant was not fined, but the urban manager could not present evidential documents that there was a written directive.

On August 4, the Urban Management Department of Shangrao city said that there is now a unified document stipulating that only store names can be written on signboards.

An unnamed mainland lawyer said the city government’s actions were illegal. NTDTV quoted him as saying: “It’s just a signboard for a store, letting people know what is the main purpose of their business. This is not advertising law. From the perspective of administrative law, it is very common for the main business content to be written on a store’s signboard. Such administrative coercive actions of the government are completely illegal.”

The lawyer went on to say, “This is marketing, and the government has no right to tell people what to do. The law only says that if a business violates the prohibitive and mandatory provisions of the law, the government can punish it.” “The government should carry out its responsibilities properly.”

Yang, a former police officer in mainland China, said that under the CCP system, civil servants have established authority as a concept of law. According to NTDTV, he said: “This is very common. Chinese civil servants recite the provisions, but they don’t know the logic or legal principles of the law. They assume that as long as they represent the government, then that kind of power will be considered the law, despite the fact that they don’t understand the law. One is a matter of law, the other is a violation of basic human rights. Business, information disclosure, and advertising all fall under the category of human rights.”

Before the ban of business content on signboards, the Urban Management Board of Xinzhou district, Shangrao city said that merchants can install electronic screens in stores to display specific business content.

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