No Baggars Premitted on Metro?

If you take Shanghai Metro these days, besides the station announcement on the in-cart broadcasting system, you can also hear:

No newspaper selling, performance for money, or beggar allowed in metro carts. All passengers should boycott together.

It is repeated once every minute.

I didn’t realize if there is anything wrong with it, not before this afternoon.

Boy Boycotted

Today, when I was on the Metro, a little boy begged in the cart. He had all this face burned that I could hardly recognize a human face. it was really astonishing to see him. He moved from the previous carts toward me slowly, begging from the passengers one by one. He stayed before someone who sit there, tried to make some voice (but he can hardly say), and waited. What he got was expressionless face. I believe he saw more than 200 or more already before he moved to me.

Typically, one out of 10 people may grant a coin or two to them. However, when the announcement on boycotting beggars is added, no one even tried to help. The boy seemed to be even more annoying than before. I guess people were thinking: “Hey! Didn’t you hear the broadcast? Why not get out of the cart immediately?”

I gave him 2 yuan. In his cup, there is another 0.5 yuan. It seemed it was all he could get. The broadcast repeated when I gave the money:

No newspaper selling, performance for money, or beggar allowed in metro carts. All passengers should boycott together.

I was infuriated immediately – why it is not permitted to beg on Metro?

Why? They need their life

I know it is obvious that the appearance of beggars in Metro is a not pleasant experience for metro riders. People want the place to be clean, safe and quiet. However, for the sake of the “rich” people to feel comfortable, we can scarify those poor children’s living! BTW, does anyone take care of them?

It is not allowed to beg in Metro. OK.

It is not allowed to beg at the waiting room of any transportation system. OK.

My question is, is it allowed to beg in Shanghai, or in China?

Shanghai wants an international city. They need a clean face – a modern city without beggars. However, it is also a crucial city. It is very likely that someone suddenly lose all the financial income. As a migration city, it is very likely the person has no family or friend in this city. Without a good insurance mechanism in place, I believe begging is the easiest and natural way they can think of. If we enforce the “No beggar” policy, the only result is to send them to the road of crime. I can imagine what people can do if they are really hungry.

OK. I understand the pressure Metro is facing and I believe 90% of riders support the rule, but just pay some sympathy to the weak. If you close a door for them, do open another. Do not close all the doors. I directly called the Metro Service hotline and asked them to remove the rule. I don’t think they will really do it. I just want my voice heard. If you also think so, call them. Their telephone number is 63189000.

Personally, I would rather see a city with beggars on Metro, instead of a city with criminals all around – if I have to choose one.

Related articles: Crime and Beggars in Shanghai, Helping by Hiring

38 thoughts on “No Baggars Premitted on Metro?

  1. I watched the coverage from BBC last week on the same subject and understand most of these child pan-handlers are controlled by gang members. Many of the children are recruited from rural area due to poverty. Should authority removed the controllers behind the pan-handlers operation, do you think there is an orphanage can house and feed all these little mishaps until they grow to age? The government rather spend money on places where people can see and admire.

    This is a social problem and is lacking immediate solution!


  2. JS

    I agree that the less fortunate deserve our sympathy. However I have very mixed feeling about giving money to beggars (especially Children). On one hand, I feel badly for them, and giving them a couple of dollars here and there is not going to hurt me any. On the other hand, I hear stories about children being used by adults to go out and beg for money. In that case, by giving these children money, am I not supporting the exploitation of these innocent children? Its a tough call for me.

  3. Jianshuo, what you did was very good. You will be blessed by God.

    I also saw some reports telling those little kids are exploited by illegal gang members to make money. Some of the injuries and wounds those kids have are result of intentional mistreatment by their controllers so that they will receive more sympathy and make more money. evil, umh?

    I share your sympathy.

  4. The government should have a system to help those poor children to survive, to look for a better life, to keep away from being used by adaults. Meanwhile, the Chinese citizens who enjoy a comfortable living condition should be encouraged to help them too. I just read an entry from Issac Mao, that “Evergreen Charity Fund” (长青教育基金) was established by UCI, MPVC, etc. in Shanghai. This is really encouraging.

  5. I stopped giving money to beggars a long time ago. They are mostly controlled by gangs who take their money.

    Giving money does not help these people. It is a social situation and its horrible. Parents dragging small babies out in the foul weather to all hours of the night chasing people for money.

    On Mao Ming Lu one little boy sold flowers I always bought them and gave him extra money. One day he was crying and we asked him what was wrong. He said that he was not making enough money and his “handler” was beating him.

    These are exploited people being managed by criminals. Boycotting maybe a cheap solution by the government but it does not address the actual issue that the criminals need to be dealt with and the exploited poor need ro be helped.

  6. The pan-handlers should be banned in any public transit system. Surely sympathy is a virtue but everyone subject to harassment in public area? No. The well-to-do Shanghai government should shell out some tax payers’ money to help those unfortunate souls. In San Francisco, homeless people are registered with the local government and receive a few hundred bucks in cash every month. (To be specific, “cash grants of roughly $400 a month to about 2,600 homeless people”, see article

    Could I suggest a topic for your blog? With the crude oil and unleaded gas recording historical high prices day by day, does it change your driving habits? Is the rising gas price related to the slowdown in car demand in China? BTW, I spend $200 a month on gas for daily commute of 50 miles to work. However, a survey in L.A. showed that people won’t change their driving habits (using public transit, carpool, etc) unless the gas goes above $5/gallon. Right now, it is between $2.20 and $2.50. I think the price tag at Chinese gas station doesn’t change daily whereas it fluctuates daily here just like stock prices. Are you paying any attention to the gas price? Please share your experience.

  7. Jian,

    Begging is a parasite life. They contribute nothing but feed off of others. The more beggars receive, the less incentive they have to get work that contributes. Giving coin to a beggar is wrong. You might feel good about doing so, but you’re not helping them. In fact, you are helping keep them as beggars.

    If you want to help beggars, do not give them coin but help them find work or connect them with a social program that doesn’t breed dependency but encourages them to find work. If you really wanted to help them, you would take them there by the hand and help them get into those programs. You would learn how those programs work inside and out to give the ones you’re helping the most benefit of them. You would also introduce them to employers, employment agencies, and friends that might either employ them or know who might. Or would it just be so much easier to toss a few coins in their cup? Which really helps them? And which only a cheap way to turn a blind eye to their plight?

    However, taking them by the hand and getting involved in their lives is a lot of work. In fact, it is full-time work that social workers do for a living. I am not expecting you to do it. Even if you did do it, there would be only so many you could do this for and there will always be more that would benefit from your help. However, there is something relatively quick you can do that is far better than giving them coin. It is something a friend showed me many years ago.

    What she did and still does to this day is give any beggar she meets in her city a folded business card. The business card has printing on both sides. On one side, lists zero/low-requirement employers and employment agencies. On the other side is a listing of the social programs available in her city that will help them. However, she doesn’t list all of those social programs since some breed dependency. She only lists the ones that encourage people to build a better life for themselves and doesn’t list ones that just gives hand-outs. She does list both government, non-profit, and religious organizations. On both sides, the listings contain not just their names and addresses but walking directions from the nearest major landmark.

    When she encounters a beggar, she asks, “Do you want help or coin?” If they say “help”, she asks if they can read. If they say they can read, she hands them the business card and takes a moment to explain it. She doesn’t go through it line by line with them, but explains what the two sides are about, asks if they have any questions, answers those questions, and wishes them luck. If they say they cannot read, she still gives them the card but then reads it to them, tells them which they should go to first, and tells them to ask others to read this card to them again. This way while they cannot read the card, they have something that can be read to them to remind them what they can do, get people to help them with directions to the places, and so forth.

    Now if a beggar says they just want “coin”, she says she doesn’t help beggars remain beggars but can tell them where to look for work and where there are good social programs that can help them get work. She asks if they would like that information and if they say “yes”, she does the before-mentioned education. If they say “no”, she says if they ever change their mind in the future, they only need to ask and she’ll give them the information then. She then ends the negative encounter by offering the folded business card and saying, “All the information is on this card. Do you want it?” If they say “yes”, she gives it then explains it if they seem like they want to hear it or if not, just leaves it with them. She never gives them coin.

    If she sees them begging in the future and they had asked for the card, she asks them what went wrong. Sometimes it was not understanding the directions, losing the card, or being turned away by one organization and not then trying another on the list. If this is the case, she explains the directions again, gives another card, or encourages them to try another of the organizations. However, it isn’t uncommon that they simply don’t want to “work that hard”. In other words, they want the lazy life of a beggar. To those, she says that’s too bad and that she thought they’d want to live a better life than that. That statement is to get them to think. She never gives them coin.

    And the above is what she tells her friends and co-workers to do. She gives them a good number of such business cards to hand out and also gives them a slip of paper that tells about her printer that always has a box of such cards to sell behind the counter to anyone that comes in and asks for them. Since she paid for the original box, the printer has lost nothing by doing this and sales of the box simply pays for the next box. Oh, and the printer is very much in favor of helping do this and pitches the cards to a lot of people that come into his shop that he thinks might be up for such an idea.

    If she encounters a child beggar, she doesn’t do the above but calls on her cellphone one of a couple charities that helps such children and their parents. She goes through the list of charities that are on her speed dial numbers until she gets one that says they’ll immediately come and help the child. The final one on that list is Social Services, which is a government program here in the US. If she has time, she’ll tell them that she’ll wait for them to arrive in case the child beggar moves off somewhere. If she doesn’t have time, she gives them a good description of the child, the location, and anything else they might need to know.

    Since meeting her, I have done the above. It isn’t always a positive experience. You quickly learn that many beggars have no desire to get work or be anything but a beggar. Many just want money to buy booze or drugs. It is quite surprising how many of them get angry at your offer to help and reveal what they really want the money for. However, I’ve never had someone get angry with me when what they wanted was something to eat. If they say that, I point out that three of the social programs will feed them the moment they set foot in their door if they tell them they’re starving. I don’t give them coin so hopefully hunger will get them to take the next important step.

    As for trying to get the no-begging rule removed from your metro transportation system, you would not helping beggars if you were successful in doing that but, as explained above, you would be actually doing them harm. I would recommend instead that you pass along what I’ve written above to your metro transportation system and lead a small campaign (such as here on your blog) to get others to pressure your metro system to do the above. To get the metro workers to have these cards in one of their pockets while working and to give the cards out to the beggars as the workers are expelling the beggars from the premises. That actually makes the no-begging rule really helpful since the metro isn’t contributing to a parasite lifestyle but disrupting it while, at the same time, giving information to the beggars on how to make something better of their lives. In fact, give me their email address and I’ll tell them this.

    Giving coins to a beggar is a cop-out. Nothing more. Nothing less. The above isn’t a cop-out. It requires time and effort. It forces you to interact with the beggars for more than the second it takes you to toss a coin into their cup. However, it actually helps them move up in life instead of keeping them down.

  8. In Los Angeles, I see many people who operate a begging “business”. Many have their “spot” at a traffic light. I see the same beggars at the same spots, everyday, for many years. In these cases, begging has become their “job”. They are not begging for relief from a temporary hardship, they are operating a business.

    Similarly, I lived for a while in Cork, Ireland. I discovered that a family was operating a begging business. The mother would station her three children at different locations, and travel around to supervise them. While the children looked shabby, the mother wore a brand new track suit. It looked like she was quite prosperous.

    If begging is a successful business, it will continue, and expand. Other people will see the success of begging, and take up that job as well. If begging is a failure, then it will stop.

    To truly help a person in need, here is a solution: do not give a beggar money. Instead, offer to buy him some food to eat, or give him clothing. If the beggar is genuine, he will accept the offer. If not, he will say, “Can’t you just give me some money.”

    A begging child should be taken to authorities, who can put the child in a better situation than begging for criminals. If parents or gangsters are successful using children to beg, more and more children will be exploited.

    Refusing to give cash, and offering food instead, will stop begging businesses and gang-controlled begging. It will help the truly destitute.

  9. Jianshuo, I am very glad that you bring up this issue. If they don’t beg, where are they going to end up? Chinese Gov’t should have good prevention system in place, not only help these kids, but also effectively crack down those ppl who control the operation. The beggars can be the sources of many problems, but the ppl behind the operations are the worst. These are the person should be prosecuted without mercy. Not allowing beggars, newspapers sellings can only cure the problems on the surface, but if ppl think deeply then there is a entirely new wave of social problems, such as unequal distribution of wealth, corruption, education, etc… Stop selling newspaper in Metro? How these ppl can live with only very limited income? They wanna do good in living like anyone else, but different reasons forced them to take this low wage earning jobs. Without these very basic living tools, their lifes are getting harder and harder. Why Gov’t is not going to stop housing speculations, rather take on the ppl who live under the proverty? Surely, housing development does save face for gov’t, but not ppl who need the most.

  10. Have you experienced the “energy crisis” in US during the late ’70? Car manufacturers pump our small car like Pinto and Vegas to combat rising fuel cost, people were still driving the way they used to be.

    LA is a upcountry and you cannot live without wheels.


  11. jianshuo, you have sympathy.

    But be direct and open, I think beggars are dirty. They cause bad feeling when they approaching me or touching me. I am ok to give them 50 cents or 1 CNY, but I don’t like they touching me in so crowded metro (and also other public area likewise).

    As for newspaper seller, do you mean the the sellers in the train, or the ones on the platform? I think newspaper seller on platform, with a fixed shelf, are acceptable, desirable and demanded. I’d love to buy a mag or newspaper on platform for 10 min reading on the train.

  12. You did right, JianShuo. I have a lot of respect for ToughLefse’s approach, but that systematic approach doesn’t make a difference to the kid with a disfigured face. You did right.

  13. The question here is why ban it on the Metro. The discussion over whether the beggars are legit is good but it does not explain the Metro’s decision. Metro not only wants to keep their carts clean, but it also rightly forbits any selling in the carts and stations. Begging is a type of selling (extraction of money), selling pity. Any selling in an enclosed space where people are immobile (even though during transit), is not fair selling — it is pressured selling. You are selling to customers who are “cornered,” literally. That may cause stress in some customers and may even have unpleasant consequences. Meanwhile, this may be ok to other customers who, like Jian Shuo, do not mind buying in that situition, that is fine.

  14. SJ,

    Did you read my paragraph on how to help child beggars? I cannot see how you wouldn’t think that’s the best way to help child beggars. Leaving them to beg is simply heartless. Giving them coin is just a cop-out. Those kids need help and a simple phone call can get them it. I’ve done it a number of times and never once have I been told by anyone that it wasn’t the right thing to do or that it wouldn’t help the child more than not doing something or giving them some coins. Adult beggars are different and require an educational approach. Child beggars need intervention. Plain and simple.

  15. Dear Jianshuo,

    I just read about the almost faceless little boy begging for coins on the Shanghai metro. Only one person commented on the fact the boy was disfigured. Most commented about begging in public places. It is not attractive.However, did anyone think this poor child, probably hungry, maybe deaf, was searching for humanity? He did find it in Wangjianshuo.

    I will soon be coming to work in a school twenty five miles outside of Shanghai. I hope to meet you and Wendy some day. Meanwhile, I will

    keep the little boy in my thoughts.


  16. I remember years ago, outside a hotel in Pudong, almost everyday for a certain period of time, could see 3-5 kids about 5-8 yrs old, they were not sound miserable, and even run and chase people. I don’t see any sign of searching humanity from their face. Really, it’s very hard to know what to do to those children.

  17. There are lots of beggars here in the US. A lot of times you can’t tell if they are panhandling for food, professionally, or to get high. I’ve found the best way to stop the parasitic nature of begging while still showing compassion, is to offer food or drink instead of money when you have some to spare. You can usually tell who needs and appreciates it, and who is disgusted by the offer by the way it is accepted.

    But sometimes you just know someone needs help, and you help. You did the right thing IMHO.


  18. I agree with chmilar and Casey. Giving food is the best way. It’s so hard to tell if someone really need the help or they’re just looking to make an easy buck. Here in the US, many panhandlers get offended and upset when you offer them food but you know these are not people who really need your help. Now I always keep some energy bars in my car and carry some with me whenever I go to an area that I might be approached by beggars.

    I have a lot of admiration for Tough_lefse’s approach, but not everyone has the time and energy to pursue such an approach. Besides, I’m not sure if it would work in China. Unlike the developed western countries, where there are extensive governmental and private social safety nets that help those in need, China is still a developing country where the number of people in desperate need is far beyond the limited capacities of the existing programs and organizations. There really are a lot of people in China who are desperately poor because of circumstance and not laziness.

  19. Thanks, thanks everyone for your input. I am moved by the noble souls in everyone.

    Just like JL and most people, we have a very mixed feeling to deal with the beggars in the city. For those who wanted work, I believe my answer is simple and firm: “Helping by Hiring”. I took this approach to those who need Ayi job or who looks capable to do something. I never give a coin to people aging from 18 to 50. Creating job opporutnity is a better solution, and it is something I typically can help.

    The child beggars in different situation. They cannot work and they need food. If I know any charity organization in Shanghai, I may already called them. But the reality in Shanghai is, I don’t know such kind of organization — let me and others know if you happen to know one. I agree with most of you, a charity organization can help them better, but not realistic today.

    Now I face the choice – to give some coins to the boy or not. If he is only an unsupported child without gangs behind him, I believe most of people want to help, and there is no doubt about it. But it is not easy to judge.

    Now the question will be: If the poor child is controlled by gangs, will you give coins to them?

    Well. It is not easy for me. I am at the middle point to give or not, but I am about 1% more likely to give even I know the poor boy is controlled as a tool. If he gets nothing, he will be beaten hardly and his life is better. I even would rather to give the 1 Yuan or two to him and let him hand it over to the gangs, so he is not beaten.

    The police needs to do their part to crack down those bad guys. It is not something I can help. I believe I can do my part. Well. It is not my final decision. Sometimes I moved to the pilor to give nothing, and sometimes I move back. It is not an easy decision.

    Government in Shenzhen started to distribute one-time injection equipments to those who use drugs for free. People argue that the government is helping those to consume drugs, but government argue, I would rather find other ways to prevent the consumption of drug than see more and more people get AIDS. I am giving the coin not helping them in long term, but at least help them and they won’t get beaten.

  20. I came across your blog in Google. This is an interesting story you have to say, and I have lots of sympathy for the kid with the burned face. However, seeing some comments above, I have heard of very similar stories- that children are often used by parents or gangs desirous of money gained easily by begging children, going as far as marring them in order for them to gain more profit. I have also heard that giving food or drink is wiser than giving money (to any beggar). Yes, they need help, but those who control them are the root of the problem (or is there a further root?), and the root must be weeded out. Thank you for posting a moving story.

  21. It’s very nice that you brought up this topic. What troubles me more is the banning of beggars by the authorities and the rudimentary cause of it. It reminds me a lot of the North Korea government. While the majority of the country is deserted, it somehow managed to create a clean, modern city of Pyongyang. Our current government may seem much more civilized, but they still bear the same root. It is difficult to comment more on this issue without causing harm to this blog and myself, both of which I love very much.

  22. Here in Stockholm there is a magazine called Situation Stockholm. Basically, homeless people buy magazines for 20 kr (~ 20 yuan) and sell them for twice the amount, keeping the difference.

    About 150 homeless people sell the magazine on a regular basis. Situation Stockholm does more than produce the magazine, they try to act as intermediaries between homeless people and businesses, striving to enabling homeless people to rise above poverty and to aquire a home. According to their website only a handful of homeless people have successfully left the streets. It’s not very much, but it’s a start. Situation Stockholm does not demand that sellers try to improve or behave in a certain way, their integrity is respected.

    I believe this concept could be applied in many other cities worldwide, if it isn’t already.

  23. Wow. What an amazing discussion! I have learned a great deal from reading everyone’s opinions here, especially the suggestions from Tough_Lefse. I live near San Francisco, where indeed there are numerous “street people”, and I am always uncomfortable with the decision about what to do. Like many of you, I do not ever give money to the adults, but I like the idea of keeping energy bars in my bag to offer the ones who appear to truly need sustenance. The issue of intentionally disfigured children, though is a very tough one, both to be confronted with, and to solve. I agree with Jian Shuo’s reasoning that it may be better to give a little to ensure that child avoids being beaten for underproductivity, but on the other hand, even in the short-term, does the “success” of that child on that day not motivate the evil adults who may control the situation to conscript even more children into their dreadful system? Without effective social programs to address this, I fear that there is no good answer. I hope that among your readers there is someone who can inform you about possible solutions already available in Shanghai, or that some productive community-wide discussion may be started as a result of this blog. Thank you for giving us much to think about today, Jian Shuo!

  24. If things go as planned, I’ll be opening up and running an admissions office for a US boarding school in Shanghai soon. When I get there, I’ll see what I can find out and what, if anything could be put on a before-mentioned folded business card. I’m making a note to myself to do this if I come there. I’ll email what I find out to Jian when I do.

    If you’re in an industrialized country (especially the US), you can do what I recommend for adult beggars. It does take a bit of your time to do, but you’re really helping them if you do. Giving them coin is only harming them. Also, never give to a child beggar but get charities or at least child welfare government agencies to come and get them. Charities and especially government agencies can get the children out from under gang control or remove them from a parasite parent. When I was in New York City last time and saw a child beggar, I called 911 on my cell phone and within five minutes the cops were there and took the child to Social Services.

    Now I would be surprised if China didn’t have some government agency that looked out for the welfare of children and which would take action if someone informed them of a child beggar. However, I’m not there yet so I don’t know for sure.

  25. another good discussion, great topic Jianshuo!!! Okay, first, xge, I disagree that this has anything to do with Communism. Many cities all over the world will try to get beggers off the street and hide them away for the sake of the city, especially around the time of a major event. I remember a big deal being made of the actions taken by Beijing before the Olympic Committee toured the city in the run-up to BJ’s successful bid for the 2008 Olympics, but this sort of action has been taken in many US cities before important times too.

    A similar situation to what Jens was talking about in Stockholm exists in Chicago where homeless people sell a newspaper so that they can feel some pride that they aren’t begging or being parasitic, instead they are being constructive.

    I will very rarely give money to beggers, especially the child beggers in China because I long ago have come to the realization that many others on here have come to, 1. those beggers are controlled by gangs, 2. those beggers make a ton of money for doing absolutely nothing…Perhaps its just because the cause is close to my heart, but every now and then I will give money to a few different blind musicians around different metro stations in BJ. Because I know that these people really don’t have much other choice due to lack of social services and that these people are earning the money fro themselves I feel that they are truly deserving of help. Plus, they are not just begging, but attempting to do something, by providing those who passby with nice music.

  26. Begging is an old tradition to make money fast without hard working. I have heard many stories about how a begger in KwangZhou, own significant properties in Hu-Nan province( his home state). He might have an army of children beggars whom under his control or in whatever causes. I also personally witnessed that once you gave because of mercy, tens of beggars or more rushed to you for money. They touched you, grabbing you and whatever method to stop you. As I usually visited China as a tourist, I have been warned numerous times about not pay attention to those beggars. Otherwise, some unhappy ending or nuisance could happen during trip. Beggars are everywhere. I encountered gypsied children beggars in Rome, Italy. They always came a group, 5 to 10 children came to you pretending to ask something witha newspaper. Under the newspapaer, they equipped with scissors or knife to cut strap of lady’s purse. I was warned too for gang of Gypsy children prior to Rome. I drove them away before they had a chance walking towards us.

    Now, begging is an international stuff. It is always influenced or strictly controlled by gang members or other equivalent. Begging is sometimes quite annoyed. I remembered one time while we waited for train. A dirty boy, of course, with dirty hands and clothes begged for money. If you ignored him, he kept close to you, touching your hand or clothes with his dirty small hands. What would you do? The easiest way to do is to give some mercy money, then he will leave you alone. But someone else might come to make his or her luck again. Or you could raise your voice and drove him away. Psychologically, you would not use latter tactic in public because so many eyes might stare at you in a hostile way, particularly, I am an unfortunate tourist.

    To deal with begging, it is really not an easy thing. There is no good solution unless government is determined to crack down the head of the gang. It is also true that there are real poor people, not related to ring of gang. The question is how long those really real individual beggar could continue begging without interference of the gang members. As I learned that there are may gang groups. They control their own district without written agreement. Mostly, they can observe and obey the unwritten regulations. Besides, there are so many social issues which even more difficult to deal. As this is an open forum, I would suggest to the government authority to harshly punish the head of the gang. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get to the head of the original crime. Unfortunately, I always have some reservation. I even worried that gang and some bad officers might have close gainful connection each other.

    Begging is certainly less harmful as to compare with picketpocket gang ring. Again, it involves all age group. That will be an interesting topic. We encountered an inexperienced (novice) female picketpocket. My wife caught her while she intended to make some move. Later, we figured out that she must take her “final examination” before she will be granted pratice independently. Too bad, she failed. This happened in one of the supermarket in Shanghai.

  27. I saw this child this afternoon from the end of my carraige on the Metro #2 line. The poor thing had most of his face burnt away, with other disfigurements to his hands and arms. He is truly in a tragic situation. Most people ignored him or turned away.

    With all the talk about pick-pocket gangs, organised begging rings, the welfare-state vs. self-responsibility, I think we’re overlooking the unfortunate condition of this child. Particularly the damage caused to the individual by the shunning of his peers.

    Hopefully his predicament hasn’t been exploited by those who we truly despise here, those that have raised the ire of so many respondants. Remember, he is trying to make his way in this world, and his road is a much tougher than those we are presented with.

  28. I agree that beggars are a part of the picture in Shanghai, because the facilities for the poor are simply non-existing.

    But anyway, most citizens in Shanghai don’t have any heating in the winter, and the winter IS cold here.

    Usually a coal-fired pan are used in-house, sitting over it along with blanks to cover it, to get a little heat.

    This is SOUTH of Changjiang River, so there are no heating in common apartments.

    But even if there were, who could pay for it ?

    Social help and security are virtually non-exsisting in China.

    Here you can see the beggars lying outside the Ferrari-Mercedes-BMW-RollsRoyce sales shops. You can make a nice “contradiction photo” of the city in that way !

    Now chinese (especially in Shanghai) favourizes money and self esteem.

    Not concerning much about politics, because they have to follow a strict, (corrupted), and conservative line if they have intensions to do something for others (which is the usual reason in other countries to join the politics).

    This do not apply much to young and modern chinese of course.

    (Deng Xiao Ping was worried about this too…)

    I have seen beggars in this city of course. At present it’s still winter in Shanghai, please remember. The worst cases of my perceptions are listed here :

    1. Boy without arms, freezing, without even a shirt, at No. 1 LianhuaLu Station Pedestrian Bridge. I gave 5 Yuan. (But I thought – why without a shirt ? To look more pityful of course, but must have been terrible for him, it was windy and only 1-2 deg’s.)

    2. The boy Jianshuo saw in the Metro with the burned face (perhaps an accident from a coal mine or firework factory fire ?), and strictly followed by his grandma, pushing him around, like a goat. The boy surely has a mind (I saw the look in his eyes), but can’t talk due to the injuries.

    Actually I gave him nothing, knowing that he wouldn’t benefit anything of it.

    I was so annoyed of the obvious exploitation of him, that I told him to walk to the Congress immediately so they could see the case with own eyes.

    Anyhow, begging in the Metro is quite pleasant, because noone want to be rude and loose face in front of others, and the temperature is always nice, even in winter (at least in lines No. 1-2-3).

    3. 2-year old boy outside Merrilyn Hotel at ZhangYangLu/LaoshanDongLu, pushed out to beg me by his grandmother. Again, I gave nothing. Told her to go to Beijing and claim something there for the kid (not her, she had good clothings, the boy had NO clothes at all).

    4. Skin disesased man outside DongFangYiYuan Hospital, just lying there, looked like a barbecued pig, with no clothes on the body. I gave 3 Yuan.

    5. XuJiaHui Station exit 9, old disabled man (sitting down from the escalator from the computer centre exit). 2 Yuan.

    The problem is, that in China it is far more poplular among cadre politicians to put their name on a Maglev Train track, or a new highway, than to provide help for the poor and disabled.

    And to be frank, how many rich guys pays a fair amount of taxes, according to their income ? I can only see the middle/lower incomes facing that problem.

    So, where shall the money come from to these people ?

    Will you pay more taxes which will be spend by the government, or will you give the money directly to beggars, criminal or not ?

    Comments are very welcome !

  29. I stopped giving money to the flower girls in Beijing a while back. The only time I did it was when it was about 4:30am and they all had a lot of flowers left and were getting really desperate. Gave them 50kuai for all of their flowers, then another 50 for them. I just wanted them to go to whereever they called home and sleep. Now, I will just get them food and talk to them. Quite a few in the Wudaokou area know me now and don’t harass me anymore, sometimes will just talk about their day or homes in Hunan. My hostmother seems to hate this behavior and is always telling me that their parents are bad for making them do this and for some reason this makes them bad too… I don’t care, they are just kids, mostly under 13, still innocent. I can’t really do anything to vastly improve their lives right now, and giving them money doesn’t help them, might as well just make their day a little less of a hell.

  30. It is one thing to discourage it, but what will be the next step ? to arrest all of them then pushing them away from the city ? It is quite crazy to see the growing number of the “beggers” in Shanghai. It is another social problem the city can solve calmly but without waiting.

  31. The experience I had with child beggars were in Beijing. We were surrounded by a big group of children (all between 5-8 yrs old), and they were clutching on to my clothes and refuse to let go unless I give them some money. For a tourist like us, it was a terrifying experience. Luckily for us, the locals helped us and shooed them away. That impression stayed in my mind, and I am really wary of agressive beggars.

    In my own country (Malaysia), we do have child beggars as well. In fact many of them are “imported” from neighbouring countries. These imported child beggars are controlled by syndications to beg. Some have been abducted to come here. The syndicates will cut off their limbs (to win more sympathy & to prevent them from escaping), and some are drugged to place in strategic places to beg.

    I am one for not giving money to child beggars. If we were to give them money,we are actually perpectuating the crime, and more innocent children may by abducted or used as beggars. Hopefully, when the syndicates find that it is not a lucrative trade anymore, they will stop. Some beggars seem to view taking money from people as their right (eg. the agressive beggars), I think by giving them money will create more social problems.

  32. Hi every1!

    It was indeed very sensitive of all you ppl who have shared their views on a topic like child beggars.

    I am from India and in the city of Bombay where I live, beggary is a full fledged occupation for many. The sight of pathetic looking beggars in the local railway trains here is very common, but I think that we Indians have seen so much of it that we are now losing our sensitive selves. I rarely see anybody even moved to by the miserable conditions of the beggars here. There is a deep sense of resentment among the service class here towards the beggars or those living in shanties(who’re engaged in similar occupations) as they feel cheated each time they pay taxes. And as in most of the socities, in India too the class that always bears the brunt is the middle class or the service class. The rich have the power while the poor too are no less powerful now a days being the biggest votebanks for the politicians, the middle class has become too emotionally dead to respond sensitively to such beggars.

    As mentioned earlier about the fixed begging “spots” in LA, it is the same in Bombay. There are many beggars, whom I’ve been seeing for ages begging at the same old spots in the same way. Strangly you even have cabbies and auto rikshaw drivers narrating heart rending tales to make some quick( and easy?) money.

    As Carsten has mentioned, that one can view an irony while poor, destitute kids flock outside the posh car showrooms, it seemed really familiar to me. India and especially Bombay is the best example of a terrible imbalance and contrast in the Indian society economically. The city on one hand is rapidly developing in terms of Shopping Malls, Multiplexes, etc. but there are no effective policies on the rehab or care of destitute children. Unfortunately, very often there are cases when beggars run away from the beggar homes to resume begging as they prefer that to “working” for money.

    I would also like to share my personal experience with a little boy who was selling some picture books and alphabet books in the local train while I was commuting. It was sad to see that no one bought any of his books, but I was really moved to see the sight of that kid intently reading the alphabets from one of the books he had. I wondered at that moment that it would be so helpful for that boy if there were options for him to study like other children of his age and quit that work. So I feel rehab of such children is very essential as they should have a decent (if not “good”) future after quitting their work, as it is said commonly-“give a man a fish and you help him for a day, teach him to fish and you help him for a lifetime…”

    I lived under the impression that Shanghai was far ahead of Bombay and much better than my city, but I really thank JS for taking up this issue and helping many others like me to actually know the reality that often gets overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of neon of big cities that claim to be the future global leaders. This was definitely an eye opener and it’s high time that such core issues are addressed by the Govt. before thinking BIG!




    For me anyway as a “God fearing man” is to do what God say’s to do.

    ………..#1 A person was on the road badly beaten, stripped and half dead by robbers.

    ………..#2 The Good Samaritan Bandaged his wounds and showed where to get care.

    ………..#3 Later he gave two coins for any additional costs that occurred.

    ………..#4 In Luke 10 verse 37 of the bible the Son of God (Jesus) said “do the same”.

    THE SOLUTION!… in today’s world

    ask your self what the similarities are with the above command.

    ……… #1 If the person is badly beaten and robbed, CALL 911 ! ( Emergencies)

    ……… #2 Show this person to a place to get care (Housing for food & shelter)

    ……… #3 Support that shelter with your time, talent or treasure.

    ……… #4 Do this and receive a reward. If you don’t , you already have your reward.


    I see a person I feel is in “true need” in my daily path.

    First I give them something like a energy bar, bottled water or food voucher (if they will take it, most want just money)

    Then…. I include information on how to get to a food or shelter house that will help .

    Then… I support that shelter.


    See Simple Right? Not Always!

  34. WHy can’t people treat the needy and homeless. Sometimes when I’m taking the subway in new York i see homeless people on the stairs i just give a quarter & also hope they don’t spend it on illegal drugs and that’s it.

  35. I am so sorry to see how a lot of people feel who makde you God and yo judge these people have you never heard it is better to give than recieve. Well there are good people that need help and beleave me i don’t want to be at the gates of heaven and be cast out because i was afraid to help some one. Just my thoughts

    Bless all of you


  36. ITS really an intersting discussion from which I learnt alot ..

    In my country WE DO NOT HAVE ALOT OF BEGGARS and those who beg are not locals ….

    I don not give them money .. i just say ” IF YOU ARE REALLY INNEED GO TO THE CHARITY ORGANIZATION ” and they will help u …

  37. I am a Chinese American teenager that just came to Shanghi to visit my grandma. and on a underground train I saw a truely, horribly disfigured boy, no more than 10 years old. His walk was that of a 90 year old man, his legs had burn marks and scabs all over, and what horrified me was his hands. His hands were folded backwards and were stuck to his wrist be his own skin. It was a sickening sight. I didn’t see his face but I don’t expect it to be fine. I felt so sorry for the kid and I wanted to give his some money, but my dad told me that these kids are controled by gangs. The idea that someone could ruin a kid just for his own wealth destroyed my faith and pride for my own countrymen. I didn’t even know such a “thing” existed. I googled and found this blog. Great! I learned so much from everyone’s inputs. I just can’t believe that this could happen.

  38. never give coins for beggers as they continue it .and seeing this others will also take up begging

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