McDonald's Golden Arches Shelters China's Homeless

Saturday, January 02, 2016

He woke to the cry of the morning janitor. "Put your shoes on!" she said. "Put your shoes on!" She rattled a chair. "This isn't your house! Sit up!" Ding Xinfeng's eyes blinked open. Dawn had yet to break, but inside a 24-hour McDonald's restaurant in central Beijing, more than a dozen homeless people had begun their daily routines.

Mr. Ding lifted his head, revealing a mess of food stains and decorative slogans on the table in front of him. "Wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen," one read.

Mr. Ding could not read the English, but he said he liked the warmth of this table, in this corner, in the peace of McDonald's, the place he had called home for several years.

Every night across East Asia, in major cities like Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo, an invisible class of people - shut out of shelter systems, scorned by their families, down on their luck - turn to a beacon of Americana for a warm, dry place to sleep.

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