CRACK DOWN ON CRIME
July 19, 1983
The number of crimes, including serious ones, has increased substantially, and the people are very disturbed about it. Over the past few years, far from being checked, the tendency has grown. Why is that? Chiefly because we have hesitated to take prompt and stern action to combat criminals and have given them very light sentences. This is true of both economic crimes and violent crimes such as robbery and murder.
Why not organize a relentless campaign against crime — or two or three campaigns? Every large or medium-sized city should organize several such campaigns over the next three years. Take Beijing for example. It should not be difficult to find out the exact number of criminal gangs in Beijing and who belongs to them. Just as Comrade Peng Zhen said not long ago, we should conduct some investigations with the advice of veteran policemen, and then we shall be able to organize campaigns. In every campaign we should crack down on a large number of criminals. We have decided not to launch any more political movements, but if we are going to combat serious crime on a large scale, we must mobilize the masses. If we mobilize all the people in a city to participate in our campaigns, it will educate them and help save a lot of them, including many young people. It is true that if the masses are mobilized, there will be so much publicity that the criminals will be alerted and some may escape. But that doesn’t matter, because we can round them up in our second campaign.
Recently in some cities a number of criminals have been arrested, and the situation there has improved. Of course, this may not last long. The criminals still at large are waiting to see what we are going to do next. If we are still weak and fail to deal severely with the ones who have been arrested, the evildoers will be emboldened again.
Serious offenders, including, for example, murderers, robbers, members of criminal gangs, instigators of crime, habitual criminals who continue to pass on their criminal skills to others while being reformed or educated through labour, traders in human beings and proprietors of brothels, should be arrested and prosecuted without fail, reformed through labour or severely punished according to law. A number of criminals should be executed according to law, and some others should be put behind bars for a long time. We should keep cracking down on criminals, arresting them whenever they surface. Otherwise, they will have nothing to fear, and 10 or 20 years from now the problem will still not have been solved. When we were handling problems in railway work in 1975, I proposed that the factionalists should not be arrested at the moment but transferred to other posts. The Gang of Four did not agree with me. I said that all faction leaders should be transferred and that if new ones appeared, they should be transferred too. If we transferred one every day, that would make 365 a year. When my words were acted upon at lower levels, order was immediately restored on the railways. If we want to solve problems like that, that’s what we have to do.
Combating crime will be a long-term struggle and require the efforts of people in all fields. Since the current situation is unusual, we have to strike hard, fast and according to law. The only way to stop crime is to be tough about it. If we go easy, we’ll lose the support of the people. This is what we mean by strengthening the people’s democratic dictatorship. So far as humanitarianism is concerned, since we are protecting the safety of the overwhelming majority of the people, we are humanitarian in the true sense of the word! The people will be highly gratified to see us vigorously combat crime. We should begin with Beijing and then go on to Shanghai, Tianjin and other cities. If we keep fighting crime, the situation will surely improve.
(Excerpt from a talk with leading members of the Ministry of Public Security.)