Chengdu acts to get beggars off the street

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 February, 2004, 12:00am

Chengdu has joined other major cities in launching an aggressive campaign to restrict begging in central areas.

People living in the Sichuan provincial capital have been asked by the Civil Affairs Bureau not to give money to beggars and to report them to so-called salvation management centres.

Similar campaigns are being waged in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other big urban centres.

The clampdown is being driven by the emergence of more beggars following a decision last year to ban police placing them in indefinite detention.

The now-defunct custody and repatriation system allowed police to round up homeless people and send them to holding centres, where they were detained until their families paid 'penalty fees'.

On Thursday, Chengdu officials distributed 1,000 flyers and 'guidance cards' to pedestrians, asking them not to give money to beggars.

The flyers contained a letter addressed to residents, calling on them to report beggars to salvation stations, where staff would help them.

The bureau also announced the extension of a no-begging zone from central Tianfu Square and the area surrounding the main railway station to all of the city centre within the second ring road.

'Begging harms the image of our city,' Chen Shu, deputy director of the Jinjiang district government, was quoted as saying by the Sichuan Morning Post.

'The introduction of a begging prohibition area will help change this.'

Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor at Peking University, said while safety concerns might persuade city authorities to restrict begging in certain areas, it was wrong to try to prevent residents offering assistance.

'It should be left to the individual to decide whether or not to give money or food to a beggar. The authorities should not intervene,' he said.