04/06/2006, 00.00
CHINA

Communist official dares police to shoot criminals

Deputy Communist party chief in rich Guangdong province dares police officers to shoot criminals; if not, they should be ashamed.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews/SCMP) – A senior Guangzhou party official dared local police to shoot when faced with armed criminals. Zhang Guifang, Guangzhou's deputy party chief and secretary of the Guangzhou Politics and Law Committee, issued the challenge at a press briefing on social order in the city.

"Officers should dare to shoot when facing violent gangsters such as armed bag-snatchers who slash people's arms while robbing bags," Mr Zhang said. "If not, it is to the shame of the police."

The Public Security Bureau said that although petty crime is on the rise in southern China, criminal cases in the first quarter of this year dropped 1.8 per cent over the same period last year,

Mr Zhang said the party committee aimed for a 10 per cent decrease in street robbery cases this year, urging the police to set up plain-clothes teams to tackle street crime.

Guangdong province has become the scene of widespread social unrest as a result of government policy that favours expropriating land from farmers and resell it to industrial interests.

In Dongzhou, coastal village in southern Guangdong province, police last December 6 shot at residents demonstrating against land confiscation.

The Chinese government claimed that three were killed; residents said the number was at least 20. The report it issued on the incident laid blame for the violence "on a small group of instigators who must be treated like criminals."

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