Saturday, December 26, 2009

Protester for hire

Wanted: One live-in protester, $146 a month, no days off.

When the managers of a Beijing restaurant marked for demolition were too busy to fight it, they posted an Internet ad and hired a stranger to stay there around the clock. The job seems to be a first for China, where frenzied urban construction has led to violent evictions, protests and even suicide.

Huddled on a makeshift bed in the trash-strewn, freezing restaurant, Lu Daren said he once worked for a demolition crew and understands their tactics.

"I'm tired," the 46-year-old said Thursday, after a long night of fending off the latest visit from what he suspects were hired thugs by the landlord. "Tired, tired, tired." He stays — wrapped in blankets, reading the newspaper or writing idle poetry, occasionally taking short walks — because he thinks the restaurateurs have been treated unfairly. ...

"I'm staying until we get paid," said Qin Rong, who said she invested 500,000 yuan ($73,000) in Fish Castle after signing a three-year contract last year and wants that money back. She said the couple has been given only 35,000 yuan in compensation so far.

But the 28-year-old also has an office job and is too busy to stay at the site. So she decided to pay someone to do it.
--Cara Anna, Associated Press, on Chinese outsourcing to the Chinese. HT: Marginal Revolution

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