Crackdown on gangsters "not a publicity stunt"

11:24, March 31, 2010      

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The crime sweep that led to the arrest and conviction of thousands of gangsters in this southwestern municipality is not a publicity stunt and the crackdown on "evil forces" will continue, the city's Party Secretary Bo Xilai, said on Tuesday.

In response to "cynics" who have been posting comments that the massive crackdown is just a well-orchestrated show to grab media attention, Bo said, "These are heartless comments".

The government's job is to ensure justice is served when people see their family members murdered and terrorized by gangsters, Bo told a visiting group of Hong Kong media representatives.

"I wonder what was on their minds when they described the battle against crime and graft as a publicity stunt," said Bo.

Fighting organized crime and corruption is not a one-time effort and the crusade must carry on, he said.

Known as dahei (combatting gangs), the sweeping campaign began last June and put the spotlight on organized crime and how it had infested local businesses and law enforcement agencies through bribery, extortion, blackmail and violence.

Among those rounded up in the massive crackdown was Wen Qiang, former deputy police chief and director of the city's justice bureau.

Wen was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year on charges of accepting bribes, rape and sheltering criminal rackets. Wen was replaced by Wang Lijun, who made his name as a tough, upright police chief in Liaoning province where Bo served as governor before he was made minister of commerce of the country.

The campaign was well-received by the city's residents and the city's crime rate has been decreasing, said the city's deputy police chief, Zhang Xiaodong. Some 94.3 percent of residents polled in a recent survey said they feel more secure now.

Bo also informed the Hong Kong media of Project Warm, a program tailor-made to help improve the livelihoods of the city's underprivileged.

Chongqing, one of the country's four municipalities that report directly to the central government, is home to more than 20 million rural residents. Many of them have homes in the mountains and live in dire poverty.

"The growing wealth of the city does not automatically trickle down to the least well-off," Bo said. "The government has a responsibility to make that happen."

The idea behind the project is to grant farmers land-use rights in the forested hills where they live, so that they have the incentive and flexibility to run poultry farms and grow fruit trees and cash crops.

"The government hopes to see each rural household earn an extra 10,000 yuan ($1,460) every year after they are given the incentive to make better use of the forested hills," he said.

Chongqing is one of the cities selected by the State Council to deliver coordinated urban and rural planning, and has relatively free rein to design and implement policies that promote social and economic cohesion.

"Narrowing the wealth gap between rural and urban residents will contribute to building a harmonious society," Bo said.

Source: China Daily
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