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Fake guns and pushups: Inside China’s school for bodyguards

Trainee bodyguards at the Genghis Security Academy in Tianjin, China.
Trainee bodyguards at the Genghis Security Academy in Tianjin, China. © AFP / FRANCE 24
2 min

It bills itself as China’s only school for bodyguards and its students are put through rigorous training in everything from firearms to cybersecurity. For those who make the grade at the Genghis Security Academy a potentially lucrative career awaits with one of the country’s growing list of super-rich.

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Around 1,000 students graduate each year from the academy, in the northeastern city of Tianjin, but the path to success requires hard work and discipline.

Training takes place from dawn until midnight, mobile phones are confiscated, meals are taken in silence and poor performance is punished with pushups.

Each student must also pay around 2,500 euros to enroll.

But with top bodyguards in China earning up to 500,000 yuan (62,000 euros) per year, far more than an average office worker, there is an obvious appeal for students like army veteran Zhu Peipei.

“I am from a rural area. I have no academic skills or qualifications,” he told AFP. “I came here because I want a job.”

According to the school’s founder, Chen Yongqing, the growing number of wealthy business owners in China means demand for bodyguards is growing.

“The Chinese economy is developing at high speed. In the process, it’s given rise to a lot of billionaires. Their families as well as company shareholders of the company all need bodyguards. The first fundamental requirement for this position is not security, but business service."

According to a 2019 Credit Suisse report, China now counts some 4.4 million millionaires among its citizens, a rise of 158,000 on the year before.

 

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