Chai Chang, a 25-year-old woman, says she longs to be protected by a man, but as a bodyguard, she is paid full-time to protect others.
"I'm thinking about my clients' safety whenever and wherever I am. Their life is my life. When I retire and relax, though, I hope I have a boy friend to accompany and protect me," Chai told the Global Times.
As busy as Chai, is her boss, Chen Yongqing, 28, CEO of Genghis Security Advisor (GSA) in Beijing, who received about 3,000 resumes last week. About 30 percent are from college graduates. There are about 60 women bodyguards working for Chen, he said.
Usually, the bodyguard candidates come from Chinese Special Forces, Special Police and retired free boxing (sanda) players and college graduates with sanda and martial art majors or physical education colleges, according to Chen.
"Comparatively, female bodyguards are more popular among female entrepreneurs, famous female stars and tourists. They can enter a women's restroom and bedroom to protect our clients," Chen told the Global Times.
Generally, female bodyguards are required to be at least 1.65 meters tall, weighing 55 kilograms, with ordinary looks. Their annual starting salary ranges from 84,000 yuan ($12,650) to 200,000 yuan ($30,122), 20-30 percent higher than their male peers, according to bodyguard industry authorities.
"With China's economic development, there are more female executives who need special protection and the market is promising, " Chen told the Global Times.
Before they begin protecting, they receive three to six months' training including sanda, kickboxing, business etiquette, administration, public relations, English and law. When they start working they are always introduced as assistants or secretaries.
Being a bodyguard means being alert to possible danger at any time, even in seemingly safe environments, said Liang Xiao (pseudonym).
Liang, 25, works as a bodyguard at GSA after graduating from Harbin Institute of Physical Education in Heilongjiang Province last July.
"Before our clients attend an activity, we'll conduct a safe assessment to reduce danger and threats as much as we can. Usually, it's safe. But I can't let down my guard," Liang told the Global Times.
Her alertness makes a difference. Liang described a night when she was driving a client home after a conference and she noticed that they were being tailed by a strange car.
After speeding up, Liang still couldn't shake the mystery car so she suddenly changed her route and after seven minutes her pursuer disappeared.
"Seven minutes is a short time for others, but for me, it's too long," she told the Global Times.
Guarding the stars
The bodyguards have many opportunities to protect celebrities, though not to enjoy the same perks.
Chai has protected many stars including Cecilia Cheung, Lu Yi, Hu Jun and Zhao Benshan, and Stefanie Sun. Her main task is crowd control when stars meet their fans.
Last summer when she accompanied Cheung to an activity in Beijing, the fans were so excited that one of them tore Chai's blouse below her armpit, leaving her bra exposed.
"I was embarrassed and angry. If I were not at work, I would have taught the person a lesson. Since it was my work, I had to swallow the insult," Chai said.
Although they are so close to stars, they have few chances to enjoy the performances or to stay in personal touch with them.
"During their performances, our attention focuses on every place off the stage. When stars finish their work, we are not allowed to ask to have our pictures taken with them or for their autographs," said Ding He, 23, a bodyguard at Beijing Yunhai Elite Security Technology Consulting Company.
The career life for women bodyguards is only about five to six years. When they reach 28-30, they typically develop other careers including senior managers, CEOs or a celebrity's assistant or martial art coaching, according to Chen.
"Women bodyguards don't get married. It's difficult for us to find boyfriends. We hope to find a man who is superior, but young men usually can't meet our requirements when it comes to social experience and their financial situation," Chai told the Global Times.