POLICE have stepped up an intensive campaign against hard-core criminals, according to a report from the semi-official China News Service. Public security officials claimed hard-hitting efforts against gangs had 'effectively maintained' law and order. 'Hit them hard' campaigns have been waged in 17 provinces and cities including Hebei, Sichuan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Gansu, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. In Guangzhou, public security agents successfully cracked several car-theft cases involving criminals who posed as policemen. Several robberies involving sums of more than one million yuan (HK$930,000) were also probed. Other targets included triad societies, drug traffickers and gun-smuggling gangs. Every winter since the early 1980s, Chinese authorities have cracked down on criminals. However, some police officers say crime is so rife, it threatens political stability.