More than 80,000 people in 'high-alert' groups deemed a threat to security have been evicted from Shenzhen this year by officials aiming to achieve social stability for the Summer Universiade in August.
City police launched a 100-day security campaign on January 1 against people local authorities regard as suspicious, mainland media quoted Shen Shaobao, vice-director of the city's Public Security Bureau, as saying in reports published yesterday.
'People living in Shenzhen without proper identity, justifiable reasons and those acting suspiciously posing a threat to people and security are what we call high-alert groups,' he said.
Eight types of people are listed in the high-alert category. They include former inmates; people without proper jobs who are considered to have abnormal living habits; drug traffickers and smugglers; mentally ill people who could pose a danger to others; and residents in rental properties who do not have proper ID cards.
Shenzhen police were not available yesterday to discuss how the 80,000 people were chosen, where they went after leaving the city and how to stop them returning.
Shen called the campaign successful, if only because the number of robbery cases fell by more than 16 per cent during the past four months.
'During the Universiade, we will deploy over 500,000 mobile civil watchmen and set up at least 22,000 checkpoints to further intensify social security inspections with special focus on the floating population, checking for explosives and monitoring the community, including residential security checks,' Shen said.
As of last Wednesday, police had raided 330,000 rental apartments, 60,000 inns and hotels and 20,000 entertainment venues, and shut down 1,180 of them.
The evictions, which authorities consider an achievement, were condemned by petitioners and criticised by lawyers and scholars who said the campaign violated mainland law.
It comes at a time when the central government is urging local authorities to improve their handling of social unrest and to track dissent more carefully.
'The move is very ill-considered and lawless,' Peking University administrative law professor Wang Xixin said. 'In the past couple of years, the Supreme People's Court has called for an end to the public shaming of criminal suspects and to protect the human rights of the accused.
'Criminal suspects are presumed innocent under human rights until proven guilty, let alone the fact that these 80,000 people so far have done nothing against the law. They deserve the right of residence and work anywhere in their country.
'Since 2008, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have held important and high-end international events, like the Olympics, the World Expo and the Asian Games. None of them launched such illegal campaigns, and their security measures still worked out.'
Liu Zilong, a Shenzhen activist lawyer said: 'It marks a departure from Shenzhen's efforts to cultivate an image as a leader of economic and social reform on the mainland.'
This is not the first time Shenzhen has forced people to leave the city for big events. In September, when President Hu Jintao came for Shenzhen's 30th anniversary as the nation's first special economic zone, many dissenters and petitioners were offered free trips to and tours of Shanghai.
One petitioner and protest organiser said: 'A senior political and legislative affairs official with the district government even called and threatened me, saying whoever organised protests at the courthouse during Hu's visit would be definitely detained.'
Shenzhen police have cracked down on people regarded as suspicious in a campaign lasting this many days: 100