Have the text messages from your ex-lover gone from sad to scary? Need someone to help transport your frail, sickly son-in-law Dudley? Do you possess powerful insider knowledge that could convince official state bodies to put a bounty on your head?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you somehow happen to live in Qingdao in Shandong province, then boy do we have news for you.
Starting next month, you’ll be able to rent bodyguards as easily as you would a taxi. The app, called Jinyiwei (“embroidered uniform guard” – the name of the elite imperial secret police during the Ming dynasty), has rolled out to a mixed response. Some say it’s a good idea and will be useful to vulnerable groups. Others say the app will turn out to be a place of employment for petty crooks and good-for-nothings who fancy themselves bodyguards. Still others are concerned that the app will be exploited by lonely women looking for lovers (lowkey a pretty sexist thing to be worried about).
Li Shangshang, one of the app’s developers, spoke some words of reassurance to the State-run China Daily:
“Our employees need to upload their ID cards, military discharge certificates and permits. They are also required to take manners and etiquette training classes and wear a uniform at work. Those who don’t feel safe, especially when going somewhere uncertain or when carrying valuables, can log on and send requests. Those who are confronted with disputes or harassment but feel it’s inconvenient to have police intervene, can try the app, and the right helpers will respond.”
Apparently a lot of the bodyguards are ex-military, and can perform services that range from transporting valuables to administering emergency first aid. And at a reasonable price ranging from 70 to 200 RMB an hour (about $10 to $30), maybe you need a bodyguard more than you realized.
Qingdao – it’s time to feel safe. Accessibly, conveniently, safe.