A day in life of a Cartier-shopping beggar in China

Alia | September 16th, 2014 - 10:38 pm

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. 


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2 Responses to “A day in life of a Cartier-shopping beggar in China”

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