Local People's Congress Acts to Clear Streets of Crime

Xuchang, an old city in central China's Henan Province, was notoriously crime-ridden three years ago, but life on the streets is different now.

One evening in early December, many residents were still shopping at a downtown department store as late as 9 p.m., and vendors selling a variety of goods were crowded outside the store entrance -- a scene that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago when people were too scared to venture out at night.

"At that time I would not go out in the evening unless there was emergency," said Zhou Yingping, the manager of a local pager station. "I have many female employees. Their families used to pick them up after work every day as robberies frequently happened at night."

The change from a crime-infested city to a safe one was initiated by five proposals jointly raised by 61 delegates to the Municipal People's Congress of Xuchang, the municipal legislature also in charge of supervising government administrations.

Public security was not on the agenda of the fifth session of the Third Municipal People's Congress of Xuchang that opened on February 25, 1999.

"But we talked about this issue most and on the second day of the session -- 61 delegates from five groups put forward five proposals concerning the crimes in the city," said Han Liangyu, one of the delegates to issue the proposal.

In late 1998, Han conducted his own survey on the people's views on police work in his community and found that many residents were worried about the worsening crime wave.

"In fact, I myself have been worried about this issue for a long time. My daughter-in-law once had her handbag robbed in the downtown at around 7 o'clock in the evening," he said.

The congress passed a bill to crack down on crimes and mafia- style gang activity, which attracted great attention from the government and even resulted in the change of the city's police chief. And a joint action against gangsters started in early 2000.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested and 200 organized crime groups have been smashed so far with over 100 guns found, according to local police. Ordinary residents are not allowed to have guns in China.

The Municipal People's Congress has kept an eye on the progress of the strike-hard campaign and played a role linking the public with the police, said Xi Tieshan, chairman of the Standing Committee of the congress.

"Delegates offered a great deal of information to the police before the action began, as we had closer contact with common people than the police," Han said. "And the police also gave us feedback about the situation."

Wang Jianrong, a shoes dealer from east China's Zhejiang Province who has been wholesaling shoes in Xuchang for six years, said a group of gangsters had assaulted him on eight different occasions one year hoping to drive him out of the city.

"Now I can express my opinion about this sort of activity through delegates of the local people's congress," he said.

"We are elected by the people and have the responsibility to make their voice heard," said Yi Bingxiang, a delegate of both the Municipal and National People's Congress.

Since April this year, about 1,882 delegates launched a five- month review of the work of police. They spoke to more than 60,000 residents and collected about 2,000 suggestions on ways for the police to better handle the crime problem.

( People’s Daily December 10, 2001)

In This Series

County Legislature Urged to Play Bigger Role

Local Congressional Meetings Open to Public



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