Planet China

Tossing pancakes

All publicity is supposed to be good publicity, but Wu Gencheng may beg to differ. He has been making spring onion pancakes since 1982, and their popularity soared after a BBC documentary gave a favourable review. However, people planning to join the queues for his Shanghai snack have been disappointed to learn that Wu’s pancake production line has now been shut down because it has emerged he was operating without a licence.

It seems that the appearance on British television brought him unwelcome scrutiny from the environmental protection authorities in his local district in Shanghai. Wu, who is disabled and operates out of a ground floor residence, has been told that it is unlikely that an application for a licence will be granted if he continues to operate from his home. “I thought about applying for a licence,” says Wu, “but I knew I’d fail because it was in a residential building.”

China Daily says the publicity surrounding Wu’s plight has prompted pancake fans to offer him a proper venue to work from, but he has turned down the proposals. “I made about Rmb10,000 ($1,498) every month by selling pancakes, but rent for a shop in the area is nearly Rmb30,000 and I don’t want to work away from home as I cannot stand it physically,” he told the newspaper, referring to his disability.

But perhaps the story isn’t over yet: a spokesperson for Shanghai’s local government says it is looking at alternative solutions to help him…

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