April 7, 2004
“For many years, beggars were rarely seen in the showcase cities of this country that still calls itself a socialist state. Image-conscious city officials ordered the police to arrest panhandlers and other homeless people, many of whom had traveled illegally from the destitute countryside.
But in the past six months, the number of beggars in Beijing and other Chinese cities has exploded. Their presence is another reminder of the growing divide between rich and poor in China as it rapidly switches to a market economy. But it is also an unanticipated result of a major civil rights victory last year – a curb on police arrest powers.”
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