Where do beggars in Shanghai come from?

In my previous post, we see that professional beggars in Shanghai are making more money than most people in Shanghai!  An investigation by the Shanghai Police Department showed that from Jan 1st to Aug 10th, there were 9,006 incidents by 962 beggars.  and that’s only the ones that were caught by the police.

Well, where do these beggars come from?  Are the kids used by the beggars victims of human trafficking?  Why are they so persistent despite persistent police action?

Question 1: Are the beggars making a profit?

As a beggar was brought to the aid agency, he complained persistently that:

There’s only a few people out today, I can’t get any money.  After 2 stops on the subway, 6 minutes, only 10 bucks!

When the officer asks “how much money could you get a day?”  he gets no response.

As stated in my previous post, the beggars are obviously making quite a lot of money.

One officer explains: he once met a beggar who used to sell cellphone accessories in the subway, but changed to begging when he realized that he could make more money that way.  Later, everyone in his family began to beg, slowly, one family then his whole home village joined the large army of beggars in Shanghai.  Now the beggars in the subways have organized and established territories.  Once someone sees an officer appear at the front of the subway, there would be cellphone messages informing beggars at the end of the subway.  Even when someone has already been brought into the police station, they would still take out their cellphone and make two calls: one to notify their fellow villagers whom they came out with that morning to beg, and another call to order take out, asking for “duck leg rice” with a bottle of iced tea.  That is because they look down on the food provided at the police station…

Question 2: Where do the beggar’s kids come from?

Many people were concerned whether the kids they see with the beggars were kidnapped or are victims of human trafficking.  So this year, the police investigated every beggar who’s child were suspected of being not their own.

When kids who are suspected are either reported to the police or found by a patrolling officer, the parents are first ask for the identification documents for the child.   If there is no documentation, then a DNA test is given

After a thorough investigation and 55 DNA tests, the police found that these kids are not kidnapped, and are indeed beggars’ kids.

But so many beggars have a kid around them, they can’t all have their own kid.  So where do these kids come from?

In the picture below, you see the same little boy carried by different people on Aug 2nd, and on May 30th.  It turns out that the boy’s mother, a Ms. Y, has 2 younger sisters and both parents who are also begging in the subways.  They frequently take turns switching their kids so that they won’t be recognized.

In another case, a Mr. W has 6 kids (5 daughters and 1 son).  Every day, he would take a different child with him.  He even frequently loan out his kids to other beggars he knows from his hometown, at prices of around 200RMB a day.

Begging has become an organized business in the Shanghai subways.  With diligent work from the police department and acknowledgement in the news, public awareness of this issue may hopefully cut down the number of fake beggars on the street.  With less people giving money to beggars, perhaps more people would go back to making money in somewhat more legitimate ways.

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