Lights, camera, violence

It’s not unusual to find unemployed actors doing odd jobs to get by, but Beijing’s aspiring thespians have hit upon a new source of income: stepping in to control violent land-rights disputes.

According to this report, some villagers in the Fengtai district of Beijing were disrupting building work on a new subway line, because they believed price offered to for the land was too low.  The town government decided to bring in a team of security guards to disperse the crowd. But where to get enough security guards at short notice?

The local town government sent a couple of buses to one of Beijing’s oldest film studios, where a crowd of hopeful actors can usually be found hanging around by the studio gates .”You’ll just be making up the numbers”, goverment staff told the actors. Offered a 60 Yuan daily wage, more than 200 men took up the offer.

Successful actors shirking their security guard duties

Arriving at the village, actors found they were working alongside local police and chengguan (urban administration officers), altogether amounting to more than 1000 security staff. The locals didn’t give up so easily. According to the report, villagers created a human wall at the east of the building site, which remained until they were physically pushed aside by the security staff.

“If we don’t do it, someone else will” one actor turned security guard said. Often the actors shy away from the more violent aspects of the job. If things get too violent, most actors choose to run away from the scene. “We’re putting our lives on the line for cash”, one actor said. Out of work actors in Beijing also also sell medical products and work as life models, according to the report.

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