Professional beggars in China ply subway network, can earn up to S$80 a day: Reports

Professional beggars, who are dressed in tattered clothes and often appear seriously ill, are a familiar sight on public transport in Chinese cities.
Professional beggars, who are dressed in tattered clothes and often appear seriously ill, are a familiar sight on public transport in Chinese cities. PHOTO: REUTERS

The authorities in Wuhan, Hubei province, have recently introduced a new fine to tackle the problem of professional beggars on its subway network, but many of them remain undeterred, reported local media.

This is because first-time beggars caught by officials are given immunity and need not pay the 50 yuan (S$10.40) fine, as long as they sign an agreement to pay a fine of 200 yuan if they are caught again, according to report by Chutian Metropolis Daily last Friday (March 23).

While begging on public transport is illegal in China, the fine amount varies in different cities, though it remains low enough that beggars consider it worth the risk, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

And despite the new efforts by the local authorities, many beggars who chose immunity on the first instance return to ply the busy subway lines.

During a visit with the local authorities, Chutian Metropolis Daily reporters found two repeat offenders, who had been caught begging for income several times last year.

The two men were also fined under the new scheme just a day ago, and officials found about 70 yuan on them, which they confiscated.

But they remain undeterred, with one of them adding that he could make between 300 and 400 yuan a day by going on the popular subway routes..

He would also avoid the morning and evening peak hours, as it would be too crowded to move around in the train carriages.

Professional beggars, who are dressed in tattered clothes and often appear seriously ill, are a familiar sight on public transport in Chinese cities.

SCMP reported that the most successful beggars can earn up to 1,000 yuan a day.

In 2014, it was reported that an elderly beggar had earned so much during the Mid-Autumn Festival that it took him three consecutive days to count the money he was remitting.

A photo of him counting change in a post office was posted online.

Staff at the post office said the beggar even offered a 100 yuan tip to those who would help him count the money.

Earlier media reports revealed that beggars who have made a career out of begging can earn more than 10,000 yuan a month, carry real-estate certificates and even entry permits for Hong Kong and Macau.