CHINA BATTLES CRIME WAVE AS POLICE COOK BOOKS


2003.11.19
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The Chinese authorities have admitted to facing a mounting wave of horrific crimes, ranging from serial killings to revenge murders using rat poison and human trafficking, RFA�s Mandarin and Cantonese services report.

Beneath China�s official portrait of sparkling economic performance lies a grimmer picture, in which rapid social change has created a growing class of dispossessed, who are often victims or perpetrators of gruesome crimes.

�The rise of fatal crime rates reflects the fact that various social conflicts in China are becoming increasingly acute,� Yu Haocheng, a Chinese law expert living in the United States, told RFA�s Mandarin service. �Economic inequalities and government suppression of [personal liberties] will certainly receive adverse reactions, which may not necessarily be directed at the government but are indirectly caused by government policies.�

And a former police officer contacted by RFA has revealed well-established methods for hiding the true extent of the problem.

Gao Peiqi, a former high-ranking police officer in the southern city of Shenzhen, said that�during his career with China�s Public Security Bureau�it was common practice to massage crime figures so the public remained unaware of the true amount of crime that went unsolved.

�Public security bureaus usually kept two separate record books�one open to the public and one called �Not open unless solved.� Therefore, the number of cases solved was always 100 percent,� he said.

Last week, police arrested an ex-convict for 65 killings, a man suspected of strangling 25 high-school students, and a couple for murdering 12 women, all in the space of five days.

Ex-convict Yang Zhiya was arrested Nov. 3 in the northern province of Hebei in connection with a string of 65 stabbing murder�and in some cases postmortem rapes�across four provinces, local media reported.

In the central province of Henan, the killing of 25 teenage boys enticed from Internet cafes and video parlors has grabbed headlines nationwide. Eighteen sets of remains were found in the home of Huang Yong, arrested Nov. 10 after his latest victim fled a torture session.

Just four days later, the authorities announced the arrest of 37 members of a gang that kidnapped and sold 150 women and 27 children in six provinces.

In Henan, parents of the slain boys told RFA's Cantonese service police had asked for more than 10,000 yuan (about U.S. $1,200) from each family to finance a full investigation of the murders. Relatives of about a dozen victims went to the municipal police bureau this week to protest, they said. But local authorities, contacted by RFA's Cantonese service, denied that any protest had occurred and declined to comment on the status of any investigation.

While accurate statistics are almost impossible to obtain, the government said in August that the courts had sentenced 14,412 criminals convicted of violent crimes such as murder, arson, bombing, or robbery in Beijing alone. But it gave no details of how many cases went unsolved.

Politburo Standing Committee member Luo Gan, whose portfolio includes law enforcement, said this month that the government�s Strike Hard anti-crime campaign must be pursued with renewed fervor.

�Obvious progress has been made,� Luo said. �But we are not yet optimistic.�

�It is necessary to seriously make clear the causes of security problems�and earnestly safeguard the security of the life and property of the broad masses of people,� he added.

Gao said the recent crime wave showed that the government�s anti-crime campaigns of the last 20 years had been ineffective. �Mass executions of convicts have not solved crime problems,� he said.#####

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