China’s Bodyguard Industry a Sign of Turbulent Times Ahead

December 31, 2013 Updated: December 31, 2013

As 2014 arrives, everyone is predicting the prospects for the new year. I noticed a sign that a lot of people may have overlooked—the sudden emergence of the bodyguard industry in China

According to a report by the Chinese newspaper The Economic Observer, China now has more than 4,000 security companies with more than 4.3 million bodyguards. Please note that this report is referring to bodyguard security companies instead of more ordinary security companies. 

In 2010, China began implementing the Security Service Management Regulations that officially recognized the legitimacy of the bodyguards. In the three years since then, the bodyguard industry has proliferated quickly like bamboo shoots growing up.

Why is there such a rapid development? According to the heads of these security companies, initially the demand came from social celebrities but later extended throughout the whole affluent class in China. 

So their business is very active, with some of the companies’ annual revenue reaching to the hundreds of millions. Some of the companies are considering selling their stock on the exchange. This is pretty remarkable and should make a Guinness World Record.

Bodyguarding is a normal industry. Like the Chinese saying “There are all sorts of birds in the woods,” there are all sorts of people in society. Celebrities and the wealthy are the most likely targets for kidnapping and robbery, and so there will be a bodyguard industry. 

There are bodyguards in the United States also. Even governments hire bodyguards. Their quality is usually high. Foreign dignitaries coming to New York for conferences receive professional protection from government-hired bodyguards. 

I received their protection when I just arrived in the United States. From that, I learned that their professional qualities are not as simple as what is depicted in martial arts films. Bodyguarding is indeed a very professional and very important industry.

Social Welfare 

But although the United States is much wealthier than China, with even a lot more celebrities, why is its bodyguard industry not as exaggerated and noticeable as in China, with millions employed and hundreds of millions in profits? We may analyze it from the following aspects.

First, the American social distribution is relatively even. After World War II, Western countries have implemented to various degrees measures that promote social welfare and income equality. Their middle classes have developed and expanded, while maintaining proper wealth distribution. 

In these societies, there is not the severe hatred against the rich, nor are there as many robberies and kidnappings as in China now. When the social crisis is eased and extreme moods are relaxed, there is no need for a large number of bodyguards.

Rule of Law 

Second, the legal institutions in the West guarantee that disputes are handled with fairness and equality. It is impossible for any society not to have all kinds of disputes. The difference lies in the methods used to handle them. 

The ancients invented legal systems to resolve all kinds of disputes through the same open and transparent standards in order to avoid having disputes expand due to the law of the jungle and unfairness. The Chinese word for “fair” has the meaning of being open and having equality before the law. “Fairness” means not leaning in one direction. There is no privilege before the law.

The concept of fairness is a normal phenomenon in countries with the rule of law, but in China the situation is the reverse. The Chinese government and its ruling party openly and routinely violate fairness and the rule of law. It is even stated in the constitution that the authority of the government and the Communist Party is above the law. 

In China’s reality, the will of those in power is also greater than the law, the rights of the privileged class are greater than the law, and those who enforce the law are free to interpret it in any way they want. 

Law is no longer a public institution and has become a private tool. The principles of fairness and justice have disappeared.


Third, in an unfair society for the privileged, people still tend to seek fairness and justice. Especially in China, which has known the rule of law for more than 2,000 years, people are not accustomed to extreme bondage and unfairness. 

Using the words of Yang Jia, a hero respected by the Chinese commoners, “If you do not give me fairness, I shall give you fairness.” This simple sentence speaks a profound truth: that without fairness and justice, there is no law. Instead, there is lawlessness. Therefore, there is no legal basis that people must comply with.

A government that violates the law while carrying out the law is the biggest violator of the law. When the Chinese Constitution places the authority of the government above the law, it abolishes the authority of the constitution and the law itself. 

How could a constitution, law, and government without authority manage a society? In other words, the Chinese government has forfeited its own legitimacy and must rely on violence to maintain its law enforcement. Is it possible for such a society to have a stable, legitimate government?

Such a government also has difficulty maintaining the safety of society. When the government is unreasonable and does not follow the law, the people will behave similarly, also being unreasonable and not following the law. 

Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, had a national policy called “People learn from the officials.” If the officials are lawless, how could you expect the people to follow the law? 

Lawlessness and unreasonableness are widespread in Chinese society now, with their roots in the constitution and laws that follow the one-party dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese people have a tradition of being law-abiding. But after decades in which the conduct of the Communist Party has educated the people about law, the law has less and less authority. 

One indication that the law has less authority: More and more people are using illegal means to solve their issues of wealth and revenge, as the issues of fairness and justice cannot be resolved in accordance with the law.

Social Contract Violated 

When people try to solve their own problems rather than proceeding through a fair and impartial judgment by the court, there will be more unreasonable miscarriages of justice for sure. That is, when the top bureaucrats and rich people in the society do not let other people have fairness and justice, they themselves also lose their rights to fairness and justice. 

With the pervasiveness of lawless thought, with the spread of a psychology of hatred against the rich and bureaucrats in China, the Chinese government needs to hire several million military police for protection, and the bureaucrats and wealthy individuals need to hire bodyguards. This is a normal phenomenon when the government itself tears up the social contract.

People are not lambs of either God or the government. Between the people and the government, there is a contractual relationship. This contract is the source of the constitution and laws. 

When the government violates the contract, when the government does not carry out its responsibilities, the people no longer are responsible to the government. 

When the upper social class in China treats the common Chinese people as lambs to be slaughtered, they are making themselves lambs waiting for slaughter. This is why the bodyguard industry in China is thriving now.

The Chinese society is on the brink of collapse. Chinese society has a tradition of rebellion and revolution, and this is the eve of a time of social unrest.

Wei Jingsheng is a prominent Chinese dissident. Human rights prizes he has won include the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Award in 1996, the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and the Olof Palme Memorial Prize.

This article was first broadcast by Wei Jingsheng over Radio Free Asia. 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.