PREMIER Li Peng has called for a joint effort by the public to crack down on crime to maintain peace and stability in the country. Mr Li was speaking to grass-roots representatives holding a meeting with him in Beijing to express views on work done by the Government this year. The call for greater mass efforts to beat crime was made after the head of the Guangdong police force said they would invest more in equipment and manpower and step up co-operation with their Hong Kong counterparts to help bring the province's soaring crime rate down this year. According to Chen Shaoji, Guangdong Public Security Bureau Director, the province last year witnessed at least a nine per cent increase of crime. Mr Li said at the Beijing meeting that the public was unhappy despite efforts to improve social order. He maintained that greater attention should be paid to identify new sources of friction and to eliminate negative elements arising from the development of a market economy. Speaking at a press conference in Guangzhou, the Guangdong police leader blamed the poor social order on declining morality and an increasingly mobile population in the southern province. With only about 70,000 officers policing 60 million people, Mr Chen admitted that his department was under great pressure to maintain order in the province. According to Mr Chen, Guangdong would step up intelligence, investigation, anti-triad and drug-trafficking exercises, and action against commercial crimes, in co-operation with Hong Kong. He pointed out that a growing number of criminals used Hong Kong as a safe haven after they had committed crime in the mainland. Extradition of these suspects was difficult because the mainland and Hong Kong did not have the same legal system, he admitted. While China's legal code allows the Government to prosecute criminals for crimes committed outside the country, mainland criminals who fled to Hong Kong could often escape punishment because the Hong Kong judiciary could not try them for crimes committedin China. The Chinese Government, Mr Chen said, might have to speed up its negotiation with Hong Kong on an extradition agreement in order to plug the legal loophole. Meanwhile, Mr Chen disclosed that they would soon launch another large-scale anti-smuggling campaign in the eastern part of Guangdong, where smuggling activities were rampant. He said instead of tai fei, high-powered speedboats, Guangdong police would target smugglers who now anchored on the open sea and ferried their merchandise to the shore using smaller vessels. He denied Guangdong police had relaxed their vigilance against cross-border smuggling and the recent upsurge only indicated that the big profits of illicit business were too tempting for some criminals.