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Crime on rise and social stability at riskNg Tze-wei27 February 2010The mainland’s crime rate is on the rise for the first time since 2000, a government think tank warned this week, adding that maintaining social stability will remain a big challenge.In its “Annual Report on China’s Rule of Law”, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said that in the first 10 months last year, the number of criminal cases rose 10 per cent to 5.3 million, while the number of public security cases rose 20 per cent to 9.9 million. The overall crime rate had previously been more or less stable since 2000.The number of serious crimes also grew noticeably. The report said they ranged from violent attacks, thefts, triad activities and mass incidents (protests) to terrorist activities, international companies stealing state commercial secrets and bribing state enterprises and other crimes that threatened the country’s economic security.Violent crime, including murders, arson, robberies and rapes, had been falling since 2001 but all rose last year, with the growth in armed robberies most prominent.The report predicted further growth in violent and commercial crime this year. “Since society has not yet completely emerged from the shadow of the financial crisis, pockets are facing employment difficulties, the wealth gap is widening, and the proportion of people in poverty is growing,” the report said.“And together with the multiple breakouts of mass incidents triggered by different social conflicts, the pressure on maintaining stability will not be light this year.”The report underpins the central government’s grave concerns over social stability across the country, which has seen widespread growth in discontent in recent years, manifested in the form of persistent petitions, mass protests and violent clashes with local governments.In an article published in the Communist Party magazine Qiushi last week, Zhou Yongkang , the Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of security and law enforcement, said: “Maintaining stable and rather quick economic growth, as well as maintaining social harmony and stability will remain a heavy mission.”He identified improving dispute resolution, innovating methods of governance and weeding out corruption as three top goals for the government this year.CASS researcher Mo Jihong said in his chapter on mass incidents that the incompetence of local government chiefs was the main reason that social disputes often erupted into such events.“They did not dare to face the people,” he said. “And the local government often failed to analyse the cause of the incidents in depth. They are used to making simple conclusions like ‘the people did not understand the truth’ and ‘were incited by an extremely small number of bad people and thugs’ when answering to superiors and the public.“This just misses the key to resolving such mass incidents.”
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