In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, the Ministry of Public Security has vowed to crack down on crimes committed by foreigners, who accounted for about 9,000 criminal cases in Guangdong last year.
Deputy Public Security Minister Meng Hongwei told 27,000 police officers in a video conference that strengthening 'the management of foreigners' was vital, according to a statement yesterday on the ministry's website.
The forum was the ministry's first video conference on 'the management of foreigners', and involved staff from all levels of public security, from the ministry down to local police stations.
'The aim of strengthening and improving the management of foreigners is to attract more foreigners to China, to step up the economic and social development of our country so as to let law-abiding foreigners feel things are convenient, safe and relaxed. For those who break the law, we will make things difficult,' Mr Meng said.
The statement did not outline what measures would be taken or crimes to be targeted.
Guangdong detained 7,500 people each year on average between 2001 and 2004 for illegal immigration, residence and work. That figure rose by 8 per cent in the following two years, the Ta Kung Pao reported.
Most of the foreigners mentioned in the report came from Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. The crimes committed included robbery, contract fraud, people smuggling and drugtrafficking.
Xinhua's website placed the ministry statement next to earlier news articles on foreign nationals committing drug-related crimes in China.
One reported a threefold increase in the number of foreigners arrested for drug-trafficking in Guangdong in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year.
Another report said Shenzhen authorities had arrested two Colombian nationals for trafficking 141.4kg of cocaine to the mainland last year.
The case was exposed when three Hong Kong people employed by the Colombians brought the cocaine to Hong Kong and were intercepted at the Lo Wu border checkpoint.
'Everybody must abide by the law within China, no matter if you are a foreigner or a local,' Shenzhen University law professor Zou Xueping said.
'I haven't seen a sharp rise in criminal rates among foreigners in our country.'
Between 2001 and 2004 the number of people detained each year for illegal immigration, residence and work in Guangdong was: 7,500