Street hawkers in Nanjing were seen smashing piles of their own watermelons after law enforcement officials attempted to stop them from plying their trade along a busy road in the Jiangsu capital.

The state-run People’s Daily reported that urban management officers (chengguan) attempted to temporarily seize the fruits after vendors refused to leave. Stall owners responded by deliberately throwing watermelons onto the street to block traffic.

Smashing watermelon Nanjing
Chinese hawkers seen smashing watermelons on the street next to law enforcement officials. Photo:

After the merchants went on their watermelon-smashing spree, officials stopped confiscating the fruits to “prevent the situation from worsening.” They added that the decision was made to prevent stall owners from compromising road safety.

Watch: Angry vendors smash tons of watermelons on streetWatch: Angry vendors smash tons of watermelons on streetAn argument between watermelon vendors and an urban management officer in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, last week led to traffic disruptions along a road in the city.Noticing that the vendors were illegally occupying a road to sell the produce, the officer asked them to vacate the area. That led to an angry outburst from the vendors who began smashing nearly 4,000 kg of watermelons on the street, and even threw some at passing buses to try and stop the traffic.The officer then reportedly attempted to manage the situation to ensure that traffic was able to resume. However, on Tuesday, he returned and handed them a citation for illegally hawking their goods, confiscating the produce until the vendors admitted to their mistake.

Posted by CCTVNews on Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The drama unfolded underneath a flyover on July 3. It was reported that vendors continued to do business after officials had left the scene.

According to Chinese law, anyone caught setting up stalls illegally is liable to a fine of between RMB20 and RMB200. State media quoted an officer who said that the law fails to deter hawkers due to the low penalty incured.

Internet users, too, have weighed in on the incident on the Weibo microblogging site.

chinese netizens smash watermelon

One netizen said: “Even though smashing watermelons can relieve your anger, watermelon rinds are very slippery.” He added that stall owners risked injuring people by smashing the fruit.

chinese netizens smash watermelon

Another Weibo user suggested that officers find out whether the vendors are farmers or just street sellers. He said he would be sympathetic to farmers, but hawkers “should be taught how to run their businesses legally.” He added that hawkers should be fined for disrupting public order by smashing the watermelons.

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).