Policing Organized Crime in China: Identifying Trends and Improving Countermeasures

Project: Research

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The rapid development of a modern market economy in China has also engendered therise of crime, especially crimes associated with acquisition of wealth and the exploitationof illicit markets. As China’s ‘globalized’ economy has grown in scale and complexity sohas the sophistication of criminal groups, such that ‘mafia’ or triad-like groups haveemerged that can exploit the masses, disrupt development and reduce thecompetitiveness of markets. In some circumstances such groups, unchecked, may evenbehave like local tyrants and ‘Sultanistic States’ that undermine the legitimacy of thestate. The transformation of such crime groups to more resilient, complex, transnationaland risk-aversive forms challenges the need for new approaches by police and courts aswell as new ‘metrics’ to gauge change and the impact of countermeasures.Despite concern little is known about the prevalence, seriousness and characteristics of‘organized’ criminal groups in mainland China. Although a number of studies haveexamined the role of organized criminal groups in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan muchless is known about the nature of organized crime in mainland China. We also argueeven less is known about the effectiveness of current countermeasures including thenew measures introduced by the 8th Amendment of the PRC Criminal Law in 2011, andwhat might be the main focus of reform in the criminal law and policing practice. Theproposed study aims to investigate the morphology (structure) and mobility of organizedcriminal groups in China, and to assess the utility of current and proposedcountermeasures. Interviews with police, judges, gang members, journalists and scholarscombined with a review of cases, focused on the formation and structure of triad-likegroups will enable us to test ideas about the nature and evolution of organized crime inChina. Based on our review of the literature on organized crime we hypothesize that atheoretical approach that incorporates ideas about ‘social capital’ may be more usefulthan a ’structure-control’ or ‘social-network’ approach in describing organized groups inpost-reform China. In the light of our review of theoretical approaches we shall alsoassess the adequacy of current laws, suppression strategies of the police, the role ofnational and international legal cooperation, and the utility of campaign-style tactics infighting organized crime. We review these approaches to suppressing organized crimeand compare them with many new measures (e.g. tainted wealth laws, pattern andassociation offences, victim protection, and coercive interviews) adopted elsewhere.


Project number9041844
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1321/02/18