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Where world leaders and celebrities go, private bodyguards are sure to follow. They often come in the form of muscle-bound men in dark sunglasses and suits, but China's growing class of wealthy are looking for less conspicuous forms of protection. CCTV correspondent Teresa Tang explores China's market for female bodyguards and what it takes to make the cut.
Only the strong will survive the next twenty-eight days.
It's easy to see why this is often hailed as the Hawaii of the Orient. Lying at the southernmost tip of China is Sanya. Pleasure seekers descend here for the bounty of sand and sun. Groups arriving in this resort city are greeted by the humid air. But this bunch knows this trip is no vacation.
"At ease! Attention! Time for roll call!"
There is no time for niceties. The recruits have come with a mission - to survive the next 28 days. Among them are eight women vying to be one of China's newest bodyguards. A special training compound is waiting for them 30 kilometers away.
But suddenly the driver stops. Everyone is ordered off the bus. Ready or not, their first exercise is about to begin.
"I hope everyone takes it seriously. You have three minutes to prepare and then start running. Get ready!"
The fatigue of the long train journey weighs them down as much as their luggage. But sympathy is in short supply.
"Faster Faster Faster!"
Chen Yongqing is head trainer and founder of the Tianjiao training academy. As a retiree of China's special forces, he knows what it takes to be a top security agent. He sees a lot of potential in Gu Zishuo.
"Run faster! If you can't get in the top 10 you'll be cut."
Just over a decade ago the industry didn't exist - legally. But now China's Ministry of State Security licenses companies whose founders have at least five years of security experience. At the secluded beach the punishment continues. Increasingly, the company has noticed clients making specific requests for female guards. Chen says the tide is turning in China's private protection industry.
Many areas are off-limits to male guards like washrooms and changing rooms so perpetrators may take advantage of these blind spots to commit their crimes. Except for the United States, more millionaires call China home than any other country in the world. And reports estimate that 30% of those millionaires today are women.
Female guards are not that obvious. Clients want to be low-key. Females can look like they are secretaries or relatives and can protect the client without anyone noticing. What is getting noticed - the payoff of a career in private protection. While the training regimen for men and women is the same, the salary isn't. Female guards earn as much as 50% more - up to $100 a day. University graduates in China make on average $800 a month.
"Protect the clients at all costs!"