BEIJING (AP) — On a frigid January day at a derelict military base outside Beijing, nearly three dozen recruits take target practice and conduct evasion and extraction drills as part of preparations to provide security for the growing number of Chinese businesses investing in turbulent regions of Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere.
The Genghis International Security Academy is one of several bodyguard schools in China that offer protection for the country’s growing number of wealthy businessmen and women, but in its case, the focus is on the international market.
Privately owned but with military connections, it currently hosts 24 men and nine women — down from the 48 who initially enrolled — on a highly demanding three-week course, overseen by former Portuguese special forces soldier and veteran bodyguard Marco Borges, who doesn’t hesitate to correct their missteps with a slap or a kick.
Recruits are drawn largely from the military, but also include former athletes, entrepreneurs looking for work experience, and even college graduates seeking to put a little zest into their life.
Company owner Chen Yongqing says he wants to build the school into a comprehensive security service along the lines of Britain’s G4S and America’s Academi, the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater, by providing escorts for convoys, close protection and other services.
The vulnerability of Chinese businesses overseas was illustrated most recently by the kidnapping of four Chinese workers in Sudan’s North Darfur region last week.