Two children featured online after police discovered them begging in a Nanjing subway had been instructed by their mother, the Yangtse Evening News reported.
An Internet user posted a comment claiming to have seen a boy singing and a girl, both later discovered to be from a county in Gansu province, who were found kneeling and kowtowing as they begged for money in East China's Jiangsu province last week.
Police found the boy, 6, and girl, ten, two days after the post went online. Many people were concerned that they had been kidnapped by adults and forced to beg.
According to the children, they were following instructions from their mother, who contacts them by mobile phone. The mother appeared and admitted making them beg.
She claimed the children are her own and offered a birth certificate and household registration as proof.
The mother said she had taught them how to sing and beg, playing on subway passengers' sympathy and contacted them later to collect the money.
There are no strict regulations surrounding begging and adults who solicit money are lectured or fined by police. Fines are very little compared to how much money they can make.
Some beggars are connected to organised gangs and team up to cover different areas. They carry no more than 100 yuan to avoid unexpected inspection and confiscation. Money received is passed to their handlers after it is collected.
According to data from subway police, beggars can earn 400 to 500 yuan (S$87-110) a day and easily take more than 10,000 yuan a month.
Between May 1 and June 30, most of the 480 begging incidents reported in the Nanjing subway were related to mothers using their children in gangs. They came from Min county, a remote area in northwestern China, more than 1,600 kilometers away.
Xiaozhai town in Min county, Gansu province has a notorious reputation as a "beggar town", according to earlier reports. In the past, people from Xiaozhai begged because they lived in poverty. Now it is a common way to make a lot of money. The beggars use many methods, dressing poorly, faking disabilities, singing badly or carrying children, they try to win more sympathy.