Re­porter ver­sus se­cu­rity guard

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Ka­trin Büchen­bacher Page Ed­i­tor: huangyi­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

As a re­porter, my re­la­tion­ship with the Baoan, the Chi­nese se­cu­rity guards, is com­pli­cated. I used to have a se­cret crush of ad­mi­ra­tion for their tire­less ser­vice to the pub­lic, so I started to “flirt” with them when I was a stu­dent in Shang­hai. Ev­ery morn­ing, I ex­changed a few words with the Baoan at my univer­sity cam­pus to prac­tice my Chi­nese.

Baoan are ubiq­ui­tous in China. There is one in ev­ery bus, at the en­trance of parks, pub­lic squares and streets, neigh­bor­hoods, and com­pa­nies. The Baoan’s duty is to pro­tect ci­ti­zens’ safety, but they do much more than that. They chat with the aun­tie whose hus­band passed away. They point you in the right di­rec­tion and help you find a park­ing lot. They even set­tle pub­lic quar­rels. Most of them are stand­ing, all day, ev­ery day. I do re­spect them. The Baoan used to re­spect me, too, un­til one day, I be­came a re­porter.

On my first day as an in­tern at the Global Times Metropoli­tan Shang­hai, the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor sent me straight into the streets, equipped with a cam­era, a mi­cro­phone, and a group of col­leagues. The of­fice was lo­cated near Jing’an Tem­ple, a beau­ti­ful spot, with a small park on the op­po­site side of the street. This is where we wanted to con­duct our in­ter­views. I felt like the luck­i­est girl in the world to fi­nally re­al­ize my dream! But only a few min­utes passed un­til un­cle Baoan had spot­ted us.

“You can’t film here,” he said. “It’s our guide­line.”

At this mo­ment, my se­cret crush with the Baoan came to an abrupt end and a new re­la­tion­ship started, where they were the preda­tor, and I was the prey. It was only the first round of re­porter ver­sus Baoan. Soon, I was to learn ways to out­smart them, but more of­ten than not, they would catch me and win the bat­tle. My col­league and I once ac­ci­dently stepped onto the cam­pus of the largest Chi­nese search-en­gine in Bei­jing’s tech park Zhong­guan­cun. When we saw the huge hunk of a Baoan run­ning to­wards us, we ran too while I was hid­ing the mem­ory card with the footage in my bra. They caught us even­tu­ally and asked me to hand over the mem­ory card or they would call the po­lice. If our boss hadn’t sent us a stamped let­ter of ap­proval last minute, I would have prob­a­bly seen a Chi­nese jail from the in­side.

Man, I would prob­a­bly die to be able take a look at a text­book from Baoan school. The golden rule, on page one, writ­ten in red let­ters, must be “Baoan’s nat­u­ral en­emy are re­porters. When you see a re­porter, chase them down, and es­cort them out. Make sure that your area of re­spon­si­bil­ity is al­ways safe, clean, and re­porter­free.”

My col­leagues would go un­der­cover, us­ing their mo­bile phones to film. We would learn to smile sweetly and beg the Baoan to let us fin­ish one in­ter­view. We learned the hid­ing spots and Baoan-free zones. Metro Shang­hai even man­aged to form a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with the se­cu­rity guard at Jing’an park, who even­tu­ally let them do their job. What a sweet ex­cep­tion!

Un­til we be­come friends again, dear Baoan, let’s see who wins next time at “re­porter ver­sus Baoan,” round 4,305.

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