Vow to ‘dig deep’ to find corrupt police amid Xi Jinping’s anti-mafia sweep

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China’s Ministry of Public Security has vowed to crack down on collusion between police and triads after President Xi Jinping last week launched a nationwide campaign to tackle corruption at the grass-roots level.

“[We will] dig deep into the corruption problem … and [we are] determined to break the network and the sheltering of vicious power,” the ministry’s disciplinary committee chief Deng Weiping told his colleagues, reported on Thursday.

Deng, speaking at a ministry meeting on Monday, was referring to the “protective umbrella” of police sheltering and tipping off triads, which the disciplinary committee has identified as one of six key areas for attention this year.

The ministry has also expanded the power of disciplinary committee chiefs so that they can organise their own investigation teams or request additional personnel from elsewhere if the case involves a broad range of, or high-level, officials.

Xi Jinping puts China’s mafia in cross hairs, but fears of judicial abuse remain

The ministry made the pledge after Xi identified collusion between triads and officials, especially the protectors of mafia-style organisations, as a threat to the party’s rule.

Xi’s anti-graft campaign since he took power in 2012 has taken down top-level Communist Party members and cadres at the local level, especially those involved in poverty alleviation work. But in January, state media reported a new front in the campaign, aimed at lower-level government officials.

It will involve nearly 30 top party and government organs, according to the State Council.

Xi launched the campaign in a closed-door meeting of the party’s top graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, aiming to shore up the legitimacy of the party and resuscitate eroded public confidence in the leadership, according to state media.

Rampant corruption, particularly at county and village levels, has long plagued Xi’s ambitious goal of lifting all the country’s citizens above the poverty line by 2020.

First he swept up corrupt officials. Now Xi is tightening party control

At the public security meeting on Monday, the committee reported there were 10,390 cases involving illegal action by police last year, and disciplinary action was taken against 8,159 personnel.

In one of the most recent cases, the deputy chief of a Guangdong police station, Li Weijun, was jailed in December for accepting bribes and colluding with the Luo Brothers triad, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

Li was found guilty of taking 7,000 yuan (US$1,100) in bribes from the Luo Brothers and benefiting from its illegal gambling dens, the report said.

Some 28 other officers are under investigation in the province – with three of them already charged – in cases involving collusion between police and triads. They are accused of helping triads by not investigating cases involving the groups or not giving them the appropriate priority.

Such sweeping criminal campaigns have been unleashed in China before. In Chongqing, the now-disgraced party chief of the southwest metropolis, Bo Xilai, launched a broad and controversial sweep against organised crime. While it earned him national prominence, it was also seen by some critics as overstepping the legal rights of the accused and an excuse for Bo to lock up or sideline enemies, both in business and politics. Bo was jailed for life for bribe-taking, embezzlement and abuse of power in 2013.

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