China’s ‘crime-fighting’ pop star Jacky Cheung adds 12 crooks, two drones to his tally

Police in Sichuan province apprehend ‘about a dozen’ suspects for petty crimes as ‘God of Songs’ passively reinforces his reputation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 10:19pm

Hong Kong Canto-pop star Jacky Cheung’s unlikely association with crime-fighting got another boost at the weekend when about a dozen people were arrested at his concert in southwest China.

The so-called God of Songs, who has sold more than 25 million records in his decades-long career, first became associated with foiling fugitives in April when a known criminal was identified with the help of facial recognition software at his gig at Nanchang, east China’s Jiangxi province.

In the following weeks, two more fugitives were apprehended at separate performances by the crooner – also with the help of the new technology – while a further five were picked up at gigs across the country in the months that followed.

The incidents earned Cheung the nickname “enemy of fugitives” online, and the performance in Sichuan province on Friday showed once again that his concerts are no place for criminals.

According to a report by Chengdu Business Daily on Monday, “more than 12” people were arrested while attending the event at the Suining Hedong Sports Centre. The charges ranged from pickpocketing mobile phones to scamming would-be concertgoers by selling fake tickets or pretending to be venue employees, it said.

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In a television interview in May, Cheung made light of his association with fighting crime and even joked about his popularity among the criminal fraternity.

“I guess everyone needs entertainment no matter what they do,” the 57-year-old said. “It just so happens that some are crooks.”

Besides the arrests made on Friday, police also used an anti-drone gun to shoot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was spotted flying illegally in the skies above where Cheung was performing, the newspaper report said.

A second UAV was also spotted in the area, but the report did not make clear how police dealt with it.

China’s facial recognition cameras apprehend third fugitive Jacky Cheung concertgoer in two months

While Cheung continues to make headlines for his apparent association with police efforts to fight crime, just how the authorities or the media are making the link is moot.

The first person to be arrested at a Cheung concert was suspected of an “economic crime”, while the second, about a month later, was wanted in connection with unpaid debts of 110,000 yuan (US$17,200).

In May, after the third such arrest, police in Henan – where a Cheung concert had been scheduled for the following July – issued a statement on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service – saying that they were “ready” for any fugitives planning to attend the gig.

Despite the warning, a man was arrested at the concert on suspicion of using forged identification papers.

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So, while the initial arrests exemplified the authorities growing use of facial recognition technology to apprehend known criminals, such a claim could not be made about the “everyday” crooks arrested in Sichuan.

As Cheung himself said in the television interview: “If you're a crook, you will get arrested wherever you go.”