Serpentza relates a story of having had a few drinks and being in a good mood. While walking down the street, a middle-aged woman told him she had come to Shanghai looking for work and was hungry. She asked him to buy her something to eat.
He decides to buy something inexpensive at a local store. Then she asks him to phone her relatives in her rural hometown to let them know she couldn’t find work.
He says if a stranger asks you to phone someone for him or her, never give away your phone. The odds are the beggar will run away with it.
I have also had incidents in China of beggars approaching me. Since I know begging is illegal in China, I ignore them.
The Shanghai Scams Website says, “Tourists are sometimes approached by beggars or see them with small children on the street. Large underground networks sometimes take kids from villages, then put them on the street to beg, and will even physically deform a child in the hope of generating more sympathy money. So don’t feed this negative cycle by giving them money.
“Beggars may also approach tourists in outdoor dining areas on Nanjing Road (for example, outdoor bars, coffee shops, cake shops etc). These children may not really be poor but are just looking for an easy way to make money. These kids will often beg by standing near a table, then get down on one knee to beg, and as a last resort, will ask for food instead of money. The quickest way to get rid of these kids is to inform the restaurant staff, or to call the police.”
In fact, while shopping in an upscale shopping area near our home in California, I’ve been approached by an entire family of US beggars.
In Berkeley, if I walk several blocks, I’ll always run into several beggars. Some have even become nasty when I wouldn’t give them money. However, in China, days may go by without sight of a beggar.
Due to my experiences in the US, I learned to ignore beggars first in the US—not China.
From what I’ve read and been told, beggars in India are much worse and there are actually beggar cartels where the beggars are crippled and maimed to elicit sympathy.
Return to Shanghai Scams Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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