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English>>China Society

Shanghai beggars' list draws criticism

By Shi Yingying  (China Daily)

08:18, August 20, 2012

A woman begs on the subway in Shanghai in July. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

<b>Some netizens express sympathy toward the disadvantaged group</b>

A list ranking the beggars most frequently caught on Shanghai's metro trains since 2008 has caused controversy, with many people saying there should be greater sympathy toward this disadvantaged group.

The list was recently published online by the Xujiahui police station of Shanghai public security bureau urban rail and bus corps.

Topping the list is a 22-year-old illiterate man from Liaoning province who lives near the train station, has broken legs and a record of being caught begging on metro trains by police 309 times.

Ranking second is an 88-year-old woman from Anhui province who has been caught 303 times. Police said she would beg whenever she lost money from "her mahjong gambling party".

The release of the list coincides with the launch of a campaign by the Xujiahui police station called "Say No to Beggars On the Metro".

The campaign encourages metro riders to send an instant text or voice message through Weixin, a popular social networking application on mobile phones, if they spot a beggar on the train between 10 am to 2 pm and 6 pm to 10 pm. These are the peak hours for beggars to "work" on the metro.

Alternatively, they can also call the hotline to report beggars.

Stressing it is just a test run on Metro Lines 1, 5 and 7 between Aug 6 and Monday, the police station's official weibo, a Twitter-like micro blog service, said that urban rail police are trying the new methods due to complaints from subway users about begging on metro trains, which is illegal. Police have been cracking down on begging activities for many years but there is no effective way to stop the activity.

"Our plainclothes police officers are on duty whenever beggars are on duty (at metros)," said a 28-year-old metro staff member surnamed Zhao, who is in charge of maintaining safety at Xujiahui Station.

According to Zhao, the beggars' "working time" can be as late as 7 pm or even 8 pm, so the plainclothes police officers also have to work till 9 pm.

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