• Wed
  • Oct 22, 2014
  • Updated: 2:34pm

Liu Peng

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

Liu Peng, 24, rides a pedicab around the streets just south of Tiananmen Square, looking for tourists to pay him 50 yuan an hour to take them through the traditional hutong in the area. They are usually taken to see one of his 'friends', who plays traditional Chinese instruments for them, for a small extra fee.

You live and work in an area of Beijing that has changed beyond recognition from just a few months ago. Is it all because of the Olympics?

Without any doubt, all because of the Games.

Will the Olympics be good for you?

Not for me personally, no. They're good for the country, but not for individuals.

Will they help ordinary people in the long term?

I don't dare say. I don't know. Probably no difference.

So much has been knocked down and destroyed in the area you live in, because of the Olympics. Do you think it's worth it?

China is a very cultural country. We still have a lot of cultural places left. And anyway, it hasn't all been knocked down, as such - it's actually been restored, improved.

If there were no Olympics would any of it have happened?

Look, ordinary people haven't got any power to discuss this kind of thing. But lots of them have been given money to do up their homes and their businesses to look smart in time for the Games. And they want to improve the appearance so that China gives a good impression to the tourists.

So it's been a voluntary movement, not government rules that have made them do up their properties?

Possibly the ones that are in the frontline, where the tourists will definitely come and visit, have been told to do it. But the government has given those shops and houses money to do it, so actually it's a benefit for them. My home, for example, is in the back streets, and we haven't been told to do anything to ours, or given any money, so we won't do anything. Foreigners love the hutong, and they will come down here, so we must improve the look.

Do ordinary people who live here like living in the hutong?

Foreigners all like them because they think they are pretty, but to the Chinese, they've lived here for so long it's just the norm. It's nothing new to us.

Would they, and do they, protest if it's their homes being knocked down?

No, it's the rules and there's nothing they can do about it.

So do you expect to be busy during the Olympics?

I hope so, although I think a lot of people will stay in the centre of town, we are bound to get a lot coming down here.

How much do you earn a day on average?

About 100 yuan.

How much do you expect to earn during the Games?

I will put up my rates. I hope to earn at least twice that. I have been learning English so that will help. It's a good opportunity for me.


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