Shanghai’s new ‘bogus beggars guide’

Posted by Martyn

If you’re like me, then you never give money to beggars in China because you assume that they are all part of an organized gang and not genuine beggars. As identifying the real and the fake beggars is next to impossible, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau has, according to this report, published an handy illustrated manual, aptly named Recognizing Phonies, to help the city’s residents and visitors recognize the most popular begging swindles! From women faking pregnancy to counterfeit monks to bogus students begging for tuition fees:

‘Amid the great army of city vagrants, there is a cadre of professional beggars who prey on the sympathies of citizens. There isn’t a trick they won’t try,’ it adds above a drawing of a kindly-looking elderly couple handing over money to a grinning beggar.

In some cases, parents rent out small children to professional beggars who put the children to work on dangerous and crowded streets.

The guide is just one of the ways in which Shanghai and other Chinese cities are struggling to cope with an influx of beggars and vagrants following a 2003 decision to eliminate police powers to detain them.

The Discussion: 5 Comments

I remember after the sun zhigang vagrancy laws were lifted a couple of years back, the cities were suddenly flooded with beggars of all kinds. Where I live it was dozens of minority women with little kids that used to wrap themselves around people’s legs. They have since disappeared so the police must be cracking down on them somhow.

September 25, 2005 @ 7:17 pm | Comment

I at least give a yuan to the people who have no arms or are so horribly scared from burns that they could not possibly work. I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty or stupid. I don’t however give anything to the kids and instead scowl at their parents or caretakers who are usually pushing them towards me. In fact I don’t think anything pisses me off more than that, instead of making a guide they should round up those parents.

September 25, 2005 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

I made the mistake of giving a couple of yuan to a sweet-faced young girl on a street in Kunming, and the next second, like ants coming out of the woodwork, I was surrounded by a mob of little kids all holding out their hands for their share. It got so bad, I had to go into a little shop and wait for them to disperse.

September 25, 2005 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

We had the same army of minority women (with large headgear on) in Guangzhou about a year ago together with an unruly mob of little kids who were prone to put their tiny hands in your pockets if you let them get anywhere near you.

They used to terrorise the area outside the Garden Hotel on Huanshi East Road for months. They were part of a gang as we used to see them last thing at night all putting their collected coins and notes into a large bag carried by some bloke. Some blokes would also come around and dole out rice boxes.

No idea what happened to them, they just disappeared one day.

September 25, 2005 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

It’s great that the police in Shanghai are alerting people to phony beggars.

It would be wonderful if they would put forth a fraction of that effort toward teaching the public how to identify and avoid counterfeit products. But then that would derail the gravy train, wouldn’t it?

September 28, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

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