Political element in crime battle

THE political future of Guangdong police chief Chen Shaoji will largely depend on how successfully he tackles the growing problem of organised crime, especially prostitution.

Sources in Guangdong say the 48-year-old police boss faces great political pressure to turn the so-called ''yellow tide'' around.

They say the provincial leadership has become ''increasingly anxious'', with crime rates as high as 20 per cent.

A protege of Guangdong Communist Party boss Xie Fei, Mr Chen was elevated to the provincial senior echelon last May when he was made a member of the provincial Communist Party Standing Committee.

He was commended for his efforts in cracking down on rampant smuggling between Guangdong and Hongkong in the past year and was hand-picked by Mr Xie to take over from law and order guru Fan Bao, who stepped down in the latest government reshuffle.

Last week, Mr Chen convened a tele-conference urging provincial cadres to ''hit hard'' on criminals.


On Wednesday, the official Nanfang Daily reported that 12 criminals were executed in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Huizhou earlier this month for operating five major syndicates controlling about 100 prostitutes.

The left-wing Wen Wei Po also reported yesterday that 40 ''customers'', including 23 men from Hongkong and Macau, were arrested last Saturday in a raid on the Weiwei Hotel by police from Huiyang.

A total of 43 mainland prostitutes and four drug addicts were netted in the raid, the newspaper said.

But sources were sceptical of the campaign, saying many grassroots cadres were only paying lip-service to the Government's latest call.


They said in some cases the cadres even petitioned their local party secretaries for ''greater freedom'' so that they could help develop the ''tertiary industry'' in their cities.

The cadres claimed that ''hair salons, saunas, karaoke clubs, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs'' were legitimate businesses and were ''essential attractions'' for foreign businessmen, who invested in the cities, as well as tourists.


However, sources said a large number of hair salons and hotels were in fact brothels and casinos, and many were under the protection of the local police authorities.

They claimed that corruption was also widespread and many police officers were on the payroll of local triads and owners of illegal establishments.