Thu, Jul 07, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Crackdown on cross-strait crime

Cross-strait crime has been increasingly worrisome as cross-strait ties have been getting closer in recent years. Three Chinese illegal migrants suspected in the murder of a taxi driver engaging in a gunbattle with police a few days ago in Taichung County was the most recent case. The police are still investigating whether the three Chinese might be professional killers hired by a local crime ring.

Some may still remember the shocking murdering of former Taoyuan County Commissioner Liu Pang-yu (劉邦友) in 1996 -- and several other people in his house. The case has never been solved but the police are convinced that the killer(s) might be Chinese gangster(s) recruited by a local individual or group.

According to one TV reporter covering the crime beat, Chinese gangsters have the reputation of being inexpensive and cold-blooded, and so are favored by local crime rings when muscle is called for. They have reportedly even been classified into three categories -- according to their training -- which then determines their price.

The most professional and expensive killers, according to the TV reporter, are those who once served in the People Liberation Army's special units. The second tier are those who used to serve as police. The third tier are the generalists who lack special training.

Hong Kong, as usual, can serve as an example for Taiwan in this regard. People in the territory have been using the term "ta chuan tzai" (大圈仔) to describe those Chinese gang members who come from poor and remote areas. They are said to be so poor and desperate that they fear nothing and no one and are ready to do anything for money. These gangsters have even become a stock character for the Hong Kong movie industry.

Most of the Chinese gangsters who have committed crimes in this country sneaked in illegally, usually via fishing boats, and left after completing their missions. Since they don't go through any immigration formalities, the police have no means of tracing them. This more or less encourages local gangs to hire them for high-risk endeavors. However, police say some have come under the cover of tourism or visiting relatives to look for crime opportunities.

Since cross-strait smuggling is rampant, Chinese gangsters also view Taiwan as a land of opportunity for petty crime. But cross-strait crime is not a unilateral problem for Taiwan. Organized crime committed by Taiwanese rings in China is increasing.

In addition, many high-profile Taiwanese gang leaders and fugitives are hiding in China. In order to stay safe in China, some gang leaders, such as Chang An-le (張安樂), nicknamed the White Wolf, have shown support for the "one China" principle and spoken out against Taiwan independence.

A joint effort at cross-strait crime prevention is urgently needed. Hong Kong has established a joint anti-crime mechanism with China. Taiwan's cooperation with China in fighting crime rests on cross-strait understandings and agreements. But Beijing cut such dialogue in 1995, to protest then president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) visit to the US.

It was childish and irresponsible to cut off cross-strait discussion on creating a crime-prevention network for political reasons. It is also short-sighted of Beijing to protect Taiwanese criminals just because they are willing to support unification. A soaring crime rate is already a major domestic problem for the Chinese authorities. But they also must face up to their international responsibilities and show a willingness to help crackdown on cross-strait crime.

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