05/14/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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Dalian: The first Chinese city to ban begging in public places

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Dalian has become China's first city to forbid begging in public places. The northeastern port city ordered a ban on asking for alms in places like squares and near Communist Party offices and luxurious hotels.

According to Beijing news, "the regulation… aims to reinforce management of begging and to maintain social order in doing so". The city administration approved the regulation this week. Dalian, which is in the province of Liaoning, has also made begging in the city's main streets and tourist zones illegal.

Although in some cities the phenomenon is regulated by local police notices, Dalian is the first city to have passed an actual law against begging.

Begging has become commonplace in Chinese cities in the wake of a massive population shift from the countryside to urban areas. Many beggars maintain they earn more than farmers and there are even cases of beggars getting organized into well structured gangs.

Since last year, cities like Peking and Guangzhou have tried to contain begging in public places: the forces of order regularly round beggars up to dispatch them back to their towns of origin.

In the national media, some Chinese scholars have strongly criticized the ban on begging, describing begging as a free choice and a basic human right. (MAC)

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