China's Rich Seek Bodyguards Schooled In Digital Dark Arts
Tianjin, China, Sept 20 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th Sep, 2020 ) :At the "Genghis Security Academy", which bills itself as China's only dedicated bodyguard school, students learn that the threats to the country's newly-rich in the tech age are more likely to emerge from a hacker than a gunman.
Each day students in matching black business suits toil from dawn until midnight at the school in the eastern city of Tianjin, where digital defences are given equal pegging to the traditional close-protection skillset of combat, weapons training and high-speed driving.
Around a thousand graduate each year, hoping to land jobs as guards to China's burgeoning ranks of rich and famous, positions which can be worth up to $70,000 -- several times more than an annual office wage.
"Only by being strict can we cultivate every good sword. If you don't forge it well, it will break itself." About half of the students are ex-military, Chen says.
They train in rows in a large, shabby sports hall, holding blue plastic guns ahead of them with a steady stare -- before practising hustling their clients safely into a black Audi with smashed windows.
Other sessions are held in a classroom or gym, where they box in matching red T-shirts.
Mobile phones are confiscated throughout, while meals are taken in silence in a large dining hall presided over by pictures of acclaimed graduates, who have protected everyone from China's second richest man Jack Ma to visiting French presidents.
"We have been defining the standard of Chinese bodyguards," instructor Ji Pengfei told AFP.
In one class, students in pairs work through a scenario protecting a "client" from an intruder.
"Danger!" shouts Ji, prompting the guard to quickly throw their "boss" behind them and pull out a gun in the same move.
Those who fail to do it in two seconds are assigned 50 push-ups.
- Wiping data, blocking hacks - But in a highly surveilled country with a low rate of street crime, the modern minder needs an up-to-date skillset, against state monitoring or professional hackers.
"Chinese bosses don't need you to fight," Chen tells his students of a client base which includes the country's biggest real estate and tech firms.
"What would you do if the boss wants to destroy a video file immediately?" Chen asks a class.
Even so, old-school threats still exist in China -- earlier this year billionaire He Xiangjian, founder of Midea and one of the country's richest men, was kidnapped at his home.
"And of course, it's cool," he added.
That in itself is far more than the base salary in private companies of around 53,000 yuan.
Students must also navigate the quirks of their wealthy clients, says trainer Ji.
Another demanded a prospective bodyguard tell him what books he liked to read -- he was hired after saying he liked military novels.
"Then I can carry a gun... it will be more challenging and I can earn more."