Rural law hits crisis proportions
A SENIOR security official has admitted that the law-and-order situation in many villages has reached crisis proportions with some corrupt cadres even sheltering criminals.
Addressing a meeting of the Communist Party's Comprehensive Management Committee on Social Order in Beijing yesterday, its director, Ren Jianxin, warned that internal security was an ''outstanding problem'' particularly in the countryside.
''At the moment, the law-and-order situation in many rural areas has worsened,'' said Mr Ren, a member of the Central Committee's Secretariat.
''A major reason is that grassroots Communist Party and government organisations have become lax and weak.
''And some village cadres even offer shelter to and connive with criminals.'' Mr Ren said the authorities would try to build a ''strong line of defence'' by mobilising the masses to fight crime and to promote ''joint [crime] prevention by the police and the people''.
''We must strive to ensure a palpable improvement in the security situation in the villages in a short period,'' said Mr Ren, who is also President of the Supreme People's Court.
He called on ''major leaders of all party and government units'' to give emphasis to the task of maintaining social stability.
The senior security official also revealed that there were serious problems in areas including prostitution and robberies on the highway and on trains.
He indicated ''specialised struggles'' would be waged to deal with these black spots.
The meeting called by the Comprehensive Management Committee came in the wake of a spate of security-related conferences recently convened in the capital by units including the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Public Security.
China analysts said Mr Ren had been surprisingly frank about the fact that the authorities seemed to have lost control in rural regions.
They said in addition to peasant riots, caused by heavy taxes early this year, law-and-order problems sprang from the rising influence of triad societies and clansmen organisations, many of which had succeeded in ''co-opting'' local cadres and policemen.
The analysts said the breakdown of social order had also been exacerbated by the de facto dissolution of party cells in rural areas.
This was despite the fact that in 1990 and 1991, the Chinese Communist Party mounted a nationwide ''rural socialist education campaign'' to rebuild the party structure.
Diplomatic analysts said Mr Ren's appeal to citizens to join hands with law officers in fighting crime was an indication the police and the People's Armed Police lacked sufficient resources to handle the situation.
Xinhua (the New China News Agency) last night reported representatives from more than 20 party and government departments, in addition to the National People's Congress, took part in the meeting.