China challenges a lot of conventional believes, such as about development model or political system. This time, China may give a new perspective on what it’s like to be a beggar.
While most beggars beg to survive, some entrepreneurial beggars in China have turned panhandling into a low-cost, high-yield business. They are professional beggars.
For example, the elderly guy in the image below is one of them who “works” at Beijing West Railway Station. Every month, he’d take his income to a nearby post office, count them, and then make a money order back to his home in Jiangsu province.
According to staff at the post office, the guy’s monthly income averages 10,000 yuan, which usually doubles or triples during national holidays. To put the number in perspective, in 2014, the average monthly income of college graduates in China is around 2400 yuan.
“Sometimes it takes him 2-3 days to finish counting all the small bills he takes in. Sometimes he’d even offer tips if we help him count.” One staff told. By working as a beggar, this old and skinny guy has made enough money to build a 2-floor house at home and send his 3 children to college, who, ironically, surely won’t earn as much as he does after graduation.
If the story of a middle class beggar is mind boggling enough, how about another story about a super-rich beggar who shops at a Cartier store?
The following photo essay about a day in life of professional beggars was put together by reporter Cui Guanghua. It soon took the Chinese social media by storm, and has led many Chinese netizens into deep self-pity: “Beggars live a more affluent life than I do!”
At a busy crossroad in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan, an elderly man was lying on the ground, looking sick and suffered. A middle-aged woman was kowtowing besides him, begging for money from passersby.
Half an hour later, another middle-aged man came. He looked into the bucket, counted the money, put all into his pocket, while at the same time, got engaged in some light conversation with the other two. Before long, he headed towards Dico’s, a Chinese fast food chain.
At 11:30 am, the three packed their stuff and took the bus to their next location. The guy who has been lying on the ground was carrying two bags. According to the reporter, the three are cousins and they’ve been in Zhengzhou for 3 years.
Twenty minutes later, the three arrived at a local shopping center with a lot of pedestrians. They kowtowed even harder, and people kept dropping 1-yuan, 5-yuan,10-yuan or even 20-yuan notes in their bucket.
Soon, the middle-aged man got bored. He wandered into a Cartier shop, and took a look at a few watches. His conclusion? “A little bit expensive.”
He then headed to a roadside eatery to get snacks for the group. He filled a water bottle with beer, which was then used as “medicine” for the guy lying on the ground.
Later, the trio met up with a few other professional beggars to exchange tools.
They had a late lunch of fried chicken and beer.
Near evening rush hour, the group went back to the street. The two guys had so much beer that they soon fell asleep.
And of course, each had their turn to take some rest.
After a busy and well-paced day of work concluded around 10 pm, a rewarding dinner with other professional beggars was waiting for them.
Half of Chinese people surveyed believe that a war with Japan in the near future is inevitable, according to a poll by Genron. But is China ready for a war? Are China’s military forces ready to fight Japanese soldiers again, 70 years after the last Sino-Japanese War? The following two stories may give a hint.
In major military conflicts, logistics are often crucial in deciding the overall outcome of wars, and are yet full of uncertainties given the ever changing needs of the troops. Successful military logistic management involves highly professional knowledge of strategy, intelligent, training and finance, among others.
The Chinese army, however, has it all figured out, at least when it comes to how to comfortably feed several hundreds of soldiers without being noticed by the enemy.
A mechanized infantry division based in north China marched a few hundred miles to Nanjing to fight local forces in a combat exercise earlier this month. But they never needed to cook a single meal on their way. Why? Because they had a special dispatch that would go “plain clothes” to buy box lunches and bottle water from villagers along the way.
According to one officer: “The tactic not only reduces burden on logistics, but also increases overall flexibility and mobility.”
Now that the logistics are covered. How about actually winning the war?
Again, in a recent exercise, a mechanized infantry division “red army” from north China was sent to combat a “professional” “blue army” in southern China.
In the evening of the final battle, the “red army”, who has come across half China to the base, was on high alert because they’ve been ambushed a few times along the way by the “blue army.” Just as the commander was touring the base, report came that a group of local cadres were there to say hello, with gifts such as potatoes, cabbages, soft drinks, and a banner that read “Warmly welcome the People’s Liberation Army.”
But guess what? Those were no local cadres. They were undercover “blue army” soldiers. And the commander of the “red army” was sniped on spot. Bang!
And no, the two stories are not made up, nor are they from the Onion - one is from Xinhua News, and the other Guangdong Satellite TV.
Let’s go back to our original question of whether China’s current military forces are ready to fight a war with Japan. The answer is most definitely yes. They are going to fight another war with Japan in the exact same way they fought the last one 70 years ago.
On August 14, Liu Ting, who’ve received titles like “China Moral Model,” “China Filial Piety Model” and “Pride of Zhejiang,” announced in a press conference that he has decided to become a woman. The news has made national headlines as if there is something about transgender that goes against being a “moral model” - exactly how Liu felt in the past 7 years.
Liu feels and acts like a female since early days of his childhood. “I’ve always felt that I’m a girl, and that I’d grow up into a woman.” Liu explained. But he was prohibited from doing anything girly, and was sometimes punished physically for staying true to his female heart.
He was confused about which restroom to go. He was afraid of going back to his all-male dorm. When he first expressed the will to do sex-change surgery, his mom said no: “In China, women are still by large seen as inferior to men. You shouldn’t give up your male identity so easily.” Sadly, Liu agreed: “Being a trans woman in China means discrimination.”
If homosexuals are considered a marginalized group in China, transgender people are practically invisible. Jin Xing, China’s most well-known transgender celebrity, once called China’s transgender groups a “tiny island.”
Liu’s mom was diagnosed with uremia when Liu was 13. Sex-change surgery was officially out of the question as medical expenses to treat his mom broke the family apart. After Liu’s dad disappeared, teenage Liu took on the responsibility of taking care of his mom at home.
Liu even took his mom with him to college, running between their rented apartment and classrooms. It is this action that earned him titles like “China Moral Model” and “China Filial Piety Model.” He started to receive invitations to interviews and talks. But fame only further locked him in the closet.
“The honor leaves only one choice of gender for me….The public sees me as a model son. To meet public expectations of the title, I will have to live as a man. I feel depressed.”
Liu tried – cut hair short, socialized more with male friends, learnt to smoke – but failed. “I felt like I was skinned.” He described the days when he tried to be a man.
Seeing his son’s struggle, Liu’s mom made the final decision that it was time for Liu to get professional help: “If he is not national moral model, he is free to do sex-change surgery. But he is, so he struggled. I struggled, too. But I finally came to realization that being a transgender has nothing to do with morality.”
Liu’s decision to become a woman received overwhelming support from Chinese netizens who hailed his courage to be his true self. “Liu is not only a moral model of filial piety, but also a moral model of personal freedom.” One netizen commented.
But even with support from the online community, Liu may still face mountains of obstacles in real life since official recognition and government support of the LGBT population in China is still very limited. Homosexuality was only removed from the country’s list of mental diseases in 2001.
As the title of Liu’s new book goes: We will be all right.