A Reuters report on a Chinese soldier-turned-businessman depicts an emerging market of privately-owned security companies serving the country’s elite.
Chen Yongqing, who runs China’s first training academy of former soldiers and others as bodyguards, estimates that his company’s annual revenues will reach 100 million yuan ($16.5 million) within the next five years. He charges 500,000 yuan ($82,400) a year for each personal protector.
Training at Chen’s company, Tianjiao, is no joke. The 28 days of training in reconnaissance, anti-terrorism training, martial arts, and business etiquette involve some extreme situations. (Afterwards, the best trainee is offered a chance to attend further study at the International Security Academy in Israel.)
These photos will give you an idea of the intensity:
According to The New York Times, training academies like Chen’s also provide security to “guard overseas facilities, manage locally hired security staff and deploy personnel to protect ships from pirates.”
With over 20,000 Chinese companies operating overseas, many of them located in conflict-ridden areas (such as various parts of Africa), the demand for greater and more advanced security is skyrocketing.
Such private bodyguard training academies were illegal in China until 2010. Now that the ban has lifted, security companies are cropping up all over the place as entrepreneurs like Chen capitalise on the vast numbers of retired military personnel looking for higher wages.
The company currently employs about 250 full-time bodyguards in China.
Female bodyguards are in especially high demand — and get much higher salaries — because they are less visible than their male counterparts and can assume roles such as secretary or nanny, The Daily Mail reports.
Reuters notes that while Chinese citizens are not often targeted by kidnappers for ransom like Venezuela’s elite are, the guards serve to bolster the safety and sense of importance among China’s rich and famous.
Reuters reports that Zhang, a man whose friend was kidnapped and killed, now employs 18 bodyguards hired from Tianjiao.
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