Extras star in reality show of security

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am


China has a worldwide reputation for making counterfeit products ranging from eggs to iPhones, but villagers from Beijing's outlying Fengtai district were surprised to discover that hundreds of security guards hired by the authorities to suppress their protests were fakes, too.

Fearing that land requisition for a new Beijing metro line could be delayed by angry villagers from the town of Xindian, the authorities decided to hire hundreds of extras waiting for jobs outside the Beijing Film Studio as security guards on June 10 and 17, The Beijing Newsreported yesterday. The extras were paid 60 yuan (HK$72) a day, given free security guard uniforms and bussed to the scene of the protests to stop villagers entering metro line work sites.

An extra from Henan , who said he had been hired by the government twice recently, told the newspaper that working for the government as a fake security guard was a lucrative new job opportunity.

'Usually, we are hired to pretend to be security guards in the outskirts, to accelerate the process of land requisition by the authorities,' he said. 'The last time we [suppressed protests] in five to six villages in a morning. When villagers clashed with us, most extras chose to run away.'

Tian Tao , deputy head of the town government, confirmed to The Beijing News that the government and its contractor had agreed to hire some 200 security guards on June 10 and 1,000 on June 17 to disperse villagers. But he said they were hired by the contractor and he was unaware that some were extras.

Villagers said they objected to the land requisition because the metro line contractor was paying only 4.5 million yuan for 10 hectares of land, far below the market price.

'We found some 200 to 300 young men wearing security guard uniforms and yellow steel helmets on the morning of June 10 as we shouted slogans and rushed to the construction site,' one villager said. 'They were forced to retreat after more villagers went out to reinforce the protesters.'

The extras proved to be good actors because none of the villagers detected that they were fakes.