Chinese students get paid to pose as policemen
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A massive forced demolition operation took place in Guiyang, in southern China, on October 12. As always in these cases, scores of policemen were deployed.
A large police presence at a forced demolition in Guiyang, on October 12. This photo was shared on social networks.
A massive forced demolition operation took place in Guiyang, in southern China, on October 12. As always in these cases, scores of policemen were deployed. But can you tell the real policemen from the university students in disguise?
In total, about 2,500 people helped secure the demolition of 52 illegally-constructed buildings. The authorities in charge of Guanshanhu, a neighbourhood in central Guiyang, have admitted that there were 837 students among the policemen. A private security company is said to have recruited students from local universities.
According to the Beijing News daily, recruiting students to create the illusion of a larger police presence during these forced demolitions has become a common practice in Guiyang. Some students claim to have been hired up to six times for this kind of event. This pays much better than what they earn at regular part-time jobs. For six hours of work, they make at least 80 yuan [10 euros], while a nine-hour day distributing pamphlets would get them roughly 60 yuan [7 euros].
One participant said that students were given police uniforms as well as special forces uniforms on the morning of the demolition.
In addition, the work is not very difficult: all they have to do is wear a uniform and be present at the demolition. The students claim that they are not trained in any way beforehand, and that they are instructed not to intervene if there are any clashes. Their presence seems to be mainly intended to dissuade evicted residents from revolting.
A demolition operation on October 12 in Guiyang.
The mastermind behind this unusual strategy is a private company hired by the local government to provide security services during demolitions. The firm recruits these one-day “policemen” primarily on social networks, via intermediaries - which include students paid on commission.
Students claim they were brought to the demolition site by bus as a group.
Although local students seem to appreciate this way of making easy money, many Chinese online commenters have condemned the practice itself. One such commenter argues that this is police impersonation, a criminal offence that authorities typically do not take lightly. In 2012, a Chinese model was given a nine month suspended sentence for having posted a photo of herself dressed up as a policewoman online. But in Guiyang, the local authorities do not seem particularly interested in taking legal action against their private partners.
Since China began its long economic boom, 50 to 60 million Chinese citizens have been forcibly evacuated from their homes. Sometimes, homeowners receive their eviction notice only a few days before being evicted, and the compensation they receive — if any — is well below market prices.