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August 8, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Metro battles card distributors

WALKING quickly back and forth along crowded Metro train carriages, teenagers hand out name card-sized advertisement to passengers.

If in a particular rush, they just throw the cards on to passengers' laps or bags and rush off.

Most of the cards, usually featuring flight ticket and tourism information, end up on the ground, waiting to be swept away by cleaners.

But while most commuters give little thought to the cards, they are a headache for the subway operator and police.

"It's much harder to stop the distributors than it first appeared," said an officer, surnamed Yu, with the city Metro police force. "They just keep coming back."

The situation was highlighted last week when a young man stabbed two guards at a Metro Line 2 station after he was stopped for handing out advertisement cards.

The 22-year-old man has been detained, police said.

Teenagers are hired by adults who work for small or illegal travel agencies because, due to their age, they usually avoid punishment if caught, said police.

Officers and security guards at the Metro station admit they let the teenagers go after lecturing them and confiscating their cards.

"The adults know that and ask the boys and girls go back again, just as child beggars are forced by their parents or bosses," said Yu.

Teenagers can make hundreds of yuan each month by handing out thousands of cards, leading some young people to quit their studies, the authorities said.

Like child beggars, they may be beaten if they don't do the job to the satisfaction of their bosses, insiders say.

City police say they will target the agencies.

But for now the cat-and-mouse game continues.

"Sometimes it's a grey area to know who is responsible," said a Metro spokesman.

Inside stations, Metro staff stop card distributors, while on the streets it's the responsibility of urban management officials. However, at Metro entrances and exits, it is unclear who is responsible.

Maybe sympathy also plays a part. "I feel they are trying hard just to make a living," said a Metro security guard.

"So why should we push them too hard?"


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