Demand For Bodyguards Up In China

bodyguardsA revealing feature from the LA Times on China’s answer to Blackwater in the wealth-gap quagmire:

is taking off as the nation struggles with some of the side effects of its booming growth. A widening rich-poor gap has left wealthy Chinese feeling vulnerable. There are regular reports of attacks targeting the rich. One Chinese company now offers kidnapping insurance.

“It’s a special period, China is in an economic transition,” said He Jiahong, professor of law at People’s University in Beijing. “There are lots of conflicts appearing in society, and crimes toward rich people are inevitable. . . . This is why private guard services appeared and increased.”

Yang’s company, Anrong Bodyguard Security Consultant, was launched about a year ago. Since then, it has grown to about 100 guards, whose clients have included actor Jackie Chan. Yang won’t reveal his fees for the Olympics, but in ordinary times for ordinary people, he says it’s at least $140 for an eight-hour day, excluding expenses.

With wavy hair and a slight paunch, the 51-year-old has an avuncular look and demeanor that belies a life of drills and preparation for attack. He joined the army at 14, rose to first lieutenant, then became a police officer in Xian. He says he moved to about a decade ago, when he began to take up private security work.

“This field of work, there is a big need for it,” he said at Anrong’s spartan office.

For background on China’s wealth gap-related dangers, see Spiegel Online’s “As Wealth Grows, So Do Dangers for Rich” from last year.

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