If not for his heart attack in 2005, Chen Pingfu would still be a maths teacher, leading an ordinary life in Lanzhou, Gansu province.
That misfortune was followed by several more. Having no medical insurance from the state or his college, the 55-year-old fell into debt paying for his operation. Then he lost his job when his state factory-affiliated college closed in 2008.
Without an income, he turned to playing violin on the street for money – an act regarded as begging on the mainland. Police and officials would rough him up. But the experience opened Chen’s eyes to how people at the bottom of society are often abused.