Capital considering beggar-free zones

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 12:00am

Beggar-free zones in the capital's popular public spaces are being considered by the Beijing municipal government.

The proposal, which is modelled on similar measures already in place elsewhere on the mainland, comes after an official survey found more than 85 per cent of the city's growing horde of beggars are refusing government assistance.

According to the Beijing Youth Daily, the Beijing city People's Political Consultative Conference suggested the scheme - which would ban begging in areas such as Tiananmen Square and the Jianguomen embassy district - to 'protect social order'.

A report by the advisory body said action needed to be taken amid an increase in beggars after the regulations governing homelessness and vagrancy were changed. In the past, police were allowed to round up homeless people and, if they were migrants, send them back to their home town.

To deal with vagrants under the new regulations, local municipalities are expected to expand services such as the building of new homeless shelters.

However, a government survey of 238 beggars in Beijing found that only about 15 per cent of those interviewed wanted assistance. Most were 'professional beggars' who claimed to be earning as much as 200 yuan a day. By comparison, a worker in a factory makes about 1,000 yuan a month.

Between August last year and April, the city's public security bureaus detained 61 people for begging.