Beijing, Mrs. Li


Mrs. Li is from Hebei. She has been a rickshaw driver in Beijing’s Jiang Tai area for 10 years.  With her three-wheeler she makes a business as a private taxi. The government has announced this business illegal many years ago, but you can find these taxis anywhere in Beijing outside the 3rd ring road. There are no standard charges, but usually the fare is much cheaper than a normal taxi.


We meet Mrs. Li around 4 pm. She has made 90 RMB so far today. Sometimes, she says, she makes less that 100 RMB a day.


Ever since the rickshaws have been banned, the police is hunting for illegal taxis. Mrs. Li tells that the police in the area know her well as she has been caught many times.


Every time she was caught, the “urban-management” police confiscated her motor. According to Mrs. Li, the motor costs her 10,000 RMB. Thus, she has to beg them to give her motor back. Since Mrs. Li’s husband is disabled, the police would always return her motor after giving her a fine of 1,000 RMB.


Mrs. Li tells that she gets along very well with her husband, who has been disabled ever since an injection damaged his nerves when he was a kid. Having to take care of two children, one is five and the other is eight, Mrs. Li is not able to take a regular full-time job.


Commenting on her cat-and-mouse game with her illegal taxi and the police, she says: “I have no choice, I just need to earn as much money as I can.”




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