guess selling balloons by the roadside is illegal. Or perhaps he didn't
have an ID card, or perhaps he had no danwei violations of
sacred law back in the day, but commonplace these days, after Opening
has been real busy promoting virtue and prohibiting vice these days.
No one is sure how many executions it takes to accomplish these
two enormous tasks, but the PRC has reportedly reached 2000 over
the past six months. According to the China Daily, "the
crackdown has resulted in the solving of 27,951 criminal cases,
including 161 homicides and 2,394 robberies and
21,300 criminal suspects have been arrested, including 12,556 people
who migrated here and 1,100 runaways who have hidden for a period
of time or even years." The
Beijing Morning Post reported back in June that the Public
Security Bureau had already suffered 40 officers killed and more
than 1500 injured.
these criminals were and what they did to deserve to die is any
foreigner's guess. Politicians and their wives are not exempt from
the crusade to end evil in China, but they are also not the favorite
targets, no matter what CCTV claims.
victims are the millions of destitute migrant workers who arrive
in a city with a relative or three and take up some backbreaking
honor-less trade that no one else will do. Carrying stuff, sweeping
streets, collecting garbage, shining shoes, etc. The lucky or well-to-do
open up noodle or cigarette stands.
farmers sell fruit. I've seen old women hauled off and their produce
and basket confiscated because they were on the wrong side of the
street. Old men have their baskets and garbage-picking tongs taken
away as they pitifully protest and plead with the tough guy cop.
Motorcycle drivers are in constant fear of being pulled over because
they don't have the right license to be carrying passengers, or
to be in this district or they don't have the ID card required to
be in the city at all.
bridge in Chongqing is an oasis of dread for cabbies and truck drivers
carrying building supplies and motorcycle drivers. Cops clad in
riot gear now patrol the bridges and check randomly for proper identification.
The suburbs are crawling with tough guy-cops walking the streets
and smoking. Looking tough. Not many people are worried, because
the majority of the city's inhabitants have the proper ID, but a
"crackdown" always makes club owners and poor people uneasy.
for poor peasants who are trying to make a buck, the other favorite
victim is the Internet Bar, that wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Thousands have been closed down, including a reported 17,000 in
the past week. All for lacking the necessary controls on pornographic
websites and violent and/or porno games.
a joke this is. The most popular game right now involves terrorists
and cops chasing each other around and blowing each other up. Kids
can link up all over the web and kill each other like Quake or
Doom. Another popular one with the older crowd is strip Mahjong.
I wrote a column next to a city official (District Land Steward,
I found out) who kept winning. Needless to say it took me a while
to finish my article. So, yeah, porno and violence exists in the
Internet Bar. Kids spend all day playing games and chatting
(OICQ is the other favorite pastime) and drinking tea and smoking
packs and packs and packs of cheap cigs. Not
exactly a place I want my little sister to hang out in.
the joke of it all can be found on any street in Chongqing
or any other Chinese city for that matter. Pink lights illuminate
my walk home at night. If it weren't for them, I might lose my way.
And if it weren't for the cop-house that sits directly under the
pink light, well, I might have to fear a mugging or other some assault
from an overzealous madame.
the joke continues in any bar or club in China. Girls who
accompany you and drink with you and play games and such are a time-honored
tradition and no crusade against vice is gonna keep the bankers,
politicians, businessmen and cops and soldiers from honoring this
tradition. A girl can be had in most clubs for the right amount
of money (not much) and that's OK with the cops, but those cyber-babes
of the clubs have had to cut down on the number of stripper acts
per week, but they all just grin and say, "It'll be over soon,"
and then its business as usual. An
official in the US Embassy in Chengdu told me everything in China
was run by caprice and money. So imagine what a crusade against
vice must look like.
complex of bars with foreign employees in Kunming were raided in
September by a heavily armed squad of screaming Chinese cops because,
"Chinese girls are being seduced by foreigners, drugs are everywhere
and nobody has the right ID." Clubs down the street (empty
ones, which points toward the real motive behind the raid) offer
prostitutes at the front door and "head shaking" drugs
"Strike Hard" campaign is having results. The kind of
"national unity" needed in times such as these with an
economic revolution moving into another phase and a social revolution
expected to follow right on its heels. Strike
Hard was timed perfectly to rid China's WTO bid of potential critics:
those peasants and urban poor who stand to lose the most and gain
the least from China's transition into the world's factory.
printable version of this article
is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared
in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily,
and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column (usually) appears
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