Nanjing, Mr. Qian Dabao

Nanjing, Mr. Qian Dabao


Mr. Qian is sitting along the road, on both sides of which houses are being demolished.


“All these houses will be removed, except for that yellow building.” “Because it is the gathering place of an underground organization”, he adds while lowering his voice.


Mr. Qian used to own three properties in the neighborhood area, but now two of them have been demolished. When asked about government’s compensation for the properties, he repeats that he knows nothing now and everything is still in negotiation.


After the destruction of his last property, Mr. Qian will move and live with his only child.


Nanjing, Mr. Qian Dabao



Nanjing, Bicycle journey

Nanjing, Bicycle Journey


We meet two tourists beneath the Yangtze River Bridge. They are travelling on mountain bikes and stop at times to take photos; in this case the famous bridge.


When asked, they answer that they started travelling one month ago in Beijing (around 1200 km north of Nanjing) and are halfway now on their route to the their final destination, Guangzhou.



Nanjing, Mr. Wang Jianfa and Mr. Sun Yong

Mr. Wang Jianfa and Mr. Sun Yong run a business in recycling household appliances. They collect old televisions, air conditioners, computers, fridges, electronic bikes, etc. They purchase the old equipment at low prices and sell the parts that can be recycled and reused in production processes, such as the parts made of plastic, iron and aluminum.


The prices of these materials depend on ever changing market prices. Currently aluminum can be sold at 8 to 10 RMB per kilo, while iron sells at less than 2 RMB per kilo currently.


Mr. Wang and Mr. Sun claim the monthly income of their business is between 2,000 and 3,000 RMB per person.


Nanjing, Wu Jia’Ai meat market

We visit a wholesale market for meat at BaoTaqiao Street, located on the east side of the Yangtze River. The place is deserted on the Sunday afternoon, except for the chaotic howling of livestock coming from one of the large, warehouse-like, buildings.

We enter the building. Once we get adjusted to the darkness, we see dozens of pigs crowded in iron cages.



We meet Mr. Wu, the owner of the pigs, and a colleague. Mr. Wu bought the pigs from Anhui Province and will sell them to butchers and supermarkets for 2,000 RMB each. Every day, he purchases and sells out 40 to 50 pigs, he says.


Beijing, Mrs. Li


We see a middle aged lady walking in a fast pace, yet almost unnoticeable in the crowd, discreetly putting small stickers randomly on lampposts, walls and other objects in the street.


We are curious and decide to catch up on her and have a chat. When we approach her she introduces herself as Mrs. Li and she tells us that she is a follower of the, in China forbidden, movement of Falun Dafa (Falun Gong). She is happy to talk with us and we can publish the interview with photos of her under the condition that it will not be published in the Chinese language.


In 1996, Mrs. Li was suffering from cancer. A friend introduced her to the book Zhuan Falun. That’s when she started to get interested in Falun Dafa.


According to Mrs. Li, she was at the lowest end of her life at that time; she suffered from her illness and in the same period she had broken up with her boyfriend. The introduction into Falun Dafa turned around her life. “It was my destiny”, she says.


Mrs. Li started to follow Falun Dafa by reading the Zhuan Falun and meditating, in which she tried to maintain peacefulness and kindness no matter what difficulty or disappointment she was confronted with. She followed the guidelines by performing a set of exercises that is needed to better understand the concept of the philosophy.


Mrs. Li tells that she gradually recovered from cancer has never been ill again since. “I’m 59 now, do you believe that?” We agree that she does look healthy, energetic and younger than her age.


In 1999 an intense nationwide campaign was started against the Falun Dafa in China. At that time, every school was propagating how wrong and mad the Falun Dafa is and the news came with terrifying stories every day; such as a story about a mother who immolated herself together with her young daughter.


Mrs. Li said that during that time she once came to petition against the crackdown together with many other Falun Dafa followers. However, they were all taken to the police station and asked to leave their personal information. In 2001, they were sent to a special class, which they felt was more like a “brain-wash class”, for all it was about was to change their mind and make them believe that Falun Dafa is evil.


Finally, Mrs. Li felt tired of the pressure and signed a guarantee that she would never follow Falun Dafa again after which she was allowed to leave the class and go home. However, after a while she felt guilty for lying and started to exercise and meditate according to the Zhuan Falun again.


Mrs. Li tells that there were a hundred million followers of Falun Dafa in China. Though some people stopped following Falun Dafa after the campaign against them, still a significant number of followers discreetly stick to their belief.


“Few followers died during that campaign”, says Mrs. Li, “they were tortured to death”.


Falun Dafa is not a religion, according to Mrs. Li, for it doesn’t restrict people with any external rules. You don’t need to pray every day or respect the God in a specific way. As long as you are sincere, kind and patient, you are already one of them.


How come that guiding individuals to be good and keeping them healthy is considered to harm people? Mrs. Li said that Falun Dafa has never been a political belief, and they didn’t aim to fight against the government. She reckons that the government is afraid of Falun Dafa because the government is built on fake principles, malice and revenge; which is the opposite of what Falun Dafa followers believe.


According to Mrs. Li, all the terrifying news about Falun Dafa reported by the government is a made-up story. Wei Huo (“False fire”), a forbidden documentary, shows all the evidence and analyzes those “made-up” footages.


Mrs. Li also told us that Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, used to be “the most powerful guy” in China. Many people were attracted by his faith of being kind, more than members of the Communist Party in China. “Even Jiang Zemin’s (*) relatives were followers”, says Mrs. Li, ”and so were many other officials”.

(*) In the official Falun Dafa communication, former president Jiang Zemin, is held personally responsible for the crackdown on Falun Dafa followers.



She insists this is the reason why the government attempted to destroy Falun Dafa. In her words, the Chinese government first had police infiltrate into their group, trying to find something wrong, and finally made up stories to crack down on them.


Mrs. Li has been on the list of the police since the very beginning of the campaign. When she hears that we have been following her for a while before contacting her, she realizes that she did not notice that and that she has to be more careful in the future. If they catch her putting up stickers, they will put her in jail. Then she again says we should publish her story as long as it is not in Chinese and starts posing for a photo while holding up a text that reads: “FaLun DaFa is good! Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance is good!”


Despite not being able to openly exercise her believes, Mrs. Li wants to stay in China. Not only because the majority of followers are still here, but also because it’s better to practice and meditate in the most complicated environment. The more difficulties and suffering you have to deal with, the better achievement you will make.


Besides putting up stickers, Mrs. Li does her Falun Dafa exercises and studies Zhuan Falun every day. She claims that she has read it for a hundreds of times. Although “Falun Dafa” is a sensitive word online, which you will absolutely not be able to find and use on the Internet in China due to censorship, there are still articles to be found that share feelings about the experience of studying Falun Dafa. “You won’t find any words about it through the article, yet you know what it is about if you are a follower” said Mrs. Li.


Mrs. Li used to be a teacher and also a businesswoman with a little bit of success. According to her, she has always been in the forefront of new developments. Mrs. Li says that these have corrupted society into a filthy world with the lowest moral standard, where almost everyone is pursuing money. Thus, it’s important to continue promoting Falun Dafa to purify the world.


She also believes that Li Hongzhi, their master, as well as all the other followers abroad, will come back to China one day, when it has become a better place.


Mrs. Li has some friends who are also followers and has hardly any contact with anybody else.  When asked about her family, she refuses to tell anything about it.




Nanjing, Zhang Xinlu


We meet Xinlu (Lulu) on the street. She recently returned from Canada, where she spent four years learning Digital Arts. The course of her major was classified into eight programs, each of which did cost her family 2,750 dollars. She stopped after the fourth section and decided to come back to Nanjing, for she had acquired all the necessary skills through the course, such as how to write an academic paper or deliver presentations in the field of Digital Arts.


After being abroad for such a long time, Lulu finds it difficult to accommodate herself to the life in China again. At some point she describes her feeling as “horrible”. One thing she minds much is that Chinese people do not greet each other heartily. “In Canada, people say hello to each other in the morning bus, even though they do not know each other,” she says. “Here nobody does this anymore. In everyone’s eyes, I can sense their mistrust of strangers and their silent questioning: ‘what do you want from me?’ ”


Lulu has got an offer from a famous art university in London. However, her parents do not allow her to further her study in art, claiming that art students cannot find well-paid jobs in China. Lulu is not too disappointed about their decision, because now she also believes that it is only with a large fortune that she can realize her dream of traveling, painting and making photos.



Lulu states that her current goal is to earn a great amount of money. She does not take being an artist or taking a boyfriend into her current consideration; claiming that art and love consumes money. She tells us: “There is no love between my parents, which seems not that problematic. However, can you imagine a love without a house and a car? Love needs these, so love needs money!”


Given the question: “Suppose you have two choices for your future: one is your true love and two thousand RMB per month, and the other is no love but ten thousand per month RMB. Which one do you prefer?” Lulu hesitates for a while and answers firmly: “One: true love.”




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.”




Nanjing, Mr. Song Yi





Mr. Song, a local of Nanjing, works as a security guard for a KTV (Karaoke venue) and motel just south of Hunan Road. His daily work includes guarding the entrance of the building and leading the guests to park their cars.


He works from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day of the week. Although his salary (that he is unwilling to disclose) may not be that satisfying, he likes his job for its convenience and ease. It is only five-minute walk from his home to the workplace and he appreciates the fact that nobody is supervising him during his work.


Mr. Song likes to read books. The amount of idle time in his work allows him to read a lot. He is currently reading a Chinese science fiction novel called Chromosome (written by Yi Xing). He tells that, next to guarding, one of his tasks is to borrow books from the city library for his boss. With the permission of his boss, he can borrow as many books as he likes for himself. His favorite reading is Yi Lin, a famous Chinese magazine that publishes translated foreign literature.



Nanjing, Mrs. Chen Defang


Mrs. Chen, a 60 year old woman from a rural area near Yancheng (a city not far from Nanjing), is working as a maid for a Nanjing family since 4 months. Her everyday job is to take care of a mentally disabled woman who cannot take care of herself.


The family needs Mrs. Chen to cook and wash for the woman, which takes her nearly 6 hours per day. She is allowed a short leave every two months, so that she can go back to her hometown. For her job, she earns 1,800 RMB per month, a large part of which will be sent home.


She and her husband, who is a farmer, have three children. Her son, a teacher working in one of the best high schools in Yancheng, is the reason that she continues to work at her age. In order to buy an apartment for her newly wed son and his wife, she and her husband borrowed a large amount of money. They would have to endure the debt for years if living on the earnings of her husband’s farming work. Therefore, she has to go out to work so that they can pay off the debt as early as possible.



Beijing, Car wash



Mr. Chen (pictured below in the middle) comes from the Hubei province and works in the car wash company of his brother in the Xicheng district of Beijing. All cars are washed by hand. It takes between 2 and 3 minutes to wash a car with four people and the price is 25 RMB.





According to Mr. Chen, owners of luxury cars prefer the hand-wash service. The most luxurious car he ever washed was a Rolls-Royce.

This car wash employs 7 employees and they all come from the same village in Hubei province. They can make between 2,000 RMB and 2,500 RMB per month.