Image: baltimoresun.com

Training bodyguards has been a big business in China for years, largely due to the fact that the country has the world’s highest number of billionaires.

But now that a slowing economy and an anti-corruption drive are putting the brakes on the growing number of rich folks, the blossoming bodyguard industry seem to be feeling it most as there are less individuals to protect.

According to Chen Yongqing, founder of Genghis bodyguard school, being a bodyguard is more than what people thought of it, “before, people just thought bodyguards were thugs or gangsters, but we wanted to show that it can be a legitimate profession.”

In China, being a bodyguard is extremely lucrative. Professional bodyguards employed by Chen’s sister security firm earn around $3,000 a month — four times China’s average wage.

But the slowing economy has made an easy life harder to come by in China. The double-digit growth of the last decade has slowed, as the nation moves away from export-led development and tries to figure out what comes next.

With the economy slackening, and ordinary people struggling, ostentatious displays of wealth have become politically reckless.

President Xi Jinping has unleashed an anti-graft drive that, the Chinese Communist Party claims, has snared a million offenders.

In this climate, a phalanx of black-suited bodyguards can attract more problems than they repel.

“Clients are declining partly due to the anti-corruption drive and partly due to the economy, as people aren’t earning as much money,” says Chen.