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Online beggars ask for money, get sympathy only
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"I'm a 24-year-old graduate with two years' experience as a mineral water salesman. But I'm out of work and only have 232 yuan left in my pocket. Does anyone know if begging websites are a good way to raise money?" A netizen who styles himself "Blue sky after raining" caused a stir online when he posted this question on a Bulletin Board.

Like most online ideas, begging websites originated in America. The most famous is Everyone Give Me One Dollar set up by David Daw, who asks netizens to help him achieve his ambition to become an "eccentric millionaire." But the idea is catching on in China.

Chinese begging website the Old Village Store rather hopefully invites "pretty girls and boys to take a look." The owner says he was born in the 1980s, left college without a degree, and is jobless, poor and practically homeless.

The owner of the Old Village Store asks "successful, rich and charitable young people" to help out. He assures donors he will not "cheat, rob or blackmail" them and swears that if he shakes off poverty he will himself become a philanthropist.

Another begging page is the Angel Shopping Mall. The 21-year-old owner originally planned to open an online shop but when he read that an American online beggar online had raised ten thousand dollars, he figured that sounded easier. He relates his sad life story online; he started work after middle school but only managed to get an unpaid internship. He assures readers that his story is 100 percent true.

But so far no-one has given any money to the Old Village Store or the Angel Shopping Mall and very few people have even viewed the sites. It seems that online beggars have no market in China

Opinion on the street is not encouraging for online beggars. A Mr. Liu said online beggars are cheats trying to con the gullible. Psychologist Tan Gangqiang said "I don't see how anyone who can set up a website is poor enough to be a beggar," adding that begging sites reflect "the bad character of some teenagers. They see this sort of roguery as fun because they have empty minds."

A few people are more sympathetic "If I was sure an online beggar was really poor, I would give them money." said a Miss Wang.

Lawyer Sun Yuanqiang supported online begging as an alternative to street begging as it "at least doesn't make the city ugly. I don't think it's a big deal. Everyone has their own way to solve their problems. There is no law against online begging, and it's up to the individual to decide whether to make a donation."

(China.org.cn by Wu Huanshu, June 29, 2009)



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