'One million people' in Chinese gangs

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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK 'One million people' in Chinese gangs

By Beijing correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes Organised crime in China, including illegal immigrant smuggling, now involves more than one million people and is spiralling out of control, according to a new study.

China is fighting the trade in human smuggling It says criminal gangs are growing at a phenomenal speed and their activities are being aided by corrupt government officials and police officers.

The report, by Professor Cai Shaoqing of Nanjing University, gives a rare glimpse into the scale of the problem now confronting the Chinese Government.

Mr Cai estimates there are now thousands of gangs operating across China, and not just in urban centres, but in the countryside too, where secret societies have re-emerged as the authority of the Communist Party has waned.

Their main activities are drug trafficking, the abduction and sale of women, smuggling illegal immigrants and illegal trafficking in Chinese antiquities.


According to one estimate, gangs in Fujian province alone smuggle more than 100,000 illegal immigrants out of China each year.

Mr Cai cites two major factors fuelling this massive growth in organised crime: large-scale rural urban migration and an increasingly corrupt government bureaucracy.

Migrants flooding into China's cities provide the manpower for the gangs, and corrupt officials and police provide protection for their operations.

Mr Cai also gives a stark warning - if something is not done urgently, he says, the activities of these gangs could grow out of control, even threatening the Chinese communists' hold on power.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 24, 2000

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