Nightclubs and bars hit during anti-gang crime campaign

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/18 19:08:40

A closed nightclub on Huaihai Road of Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, has an anti-crime banner hung on its wall. Photo: Leng Shumei/GT

An unprecedented crackdown has been carried out in China against entertainment venues providing illegal services in conjunction with the country's three-year national campaign against gang crimes, which entered a key phase in 2019. 

Insiders estimated that about 21,000 nightclubs and bars across the country have been shut down during the campaign, affecting 3 million employees. No official data has been released as of press time.

The Global Times reporter found that many nightclubs and bars had closed in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, the second largest economy in the Yangtze River Delta region after Shanghai.

Many slogans reading "Crack down on gang crimes, safeguard social stability" have been hung on streets and stores all around the city.  

Local police told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that this may be the toughest campaign the city has seen. If nightclubs or bars are found providing illegal services such as prostitution and drug dealing, police officials in charge of the area will be punished.

Residents of Dongtai county, Jiangsu, also told the Global Times that  many bath houses have been shut down and massage services offered by members of the opposite sex have been banned. 

Similar strikes were reportedly carried out in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Hainan.     

The campaign comes as the country enters a key year in its three-year crackdown on gang crimes, which aims to "pull out the roots" of organized crimes, namely, gangs and their "protective umbrellas".

To implement the campaign, central authorities deployed eight inspection teams to provincial-level regions, including Beijing, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province from late May to early June. 

Another two teams had also been sent to Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Northwest Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region by June 12, marking complete inspection coverage of all provincial-level regions, according to a report by the Xinhua News Agency.

Necessary move 

The campaign is reported to be mainly targeted at illegal services, unqualified fire protection equipment and nuisance problems.

Illegal entertainment venues, especially nightclubs and business KTVs, are places where crimes including prostitution, drug dealing and money laundering often take place. 

They are also usually related to gangs and corrupt police officials who serve as "protective umbrellas" for them, according to police officers reached by the Global Times. 

This is why some cities take them as a short cut to launch the campaign, and gradually spread the crackdown to gangs and local tyrants who are also involved in crimes in other fields. 

Since China launched its three-year national campaign against gang crimes in January, 2018, 1,082 mafia-style gangs had been dismantled and 1,620 guns seized by December 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of cases involving officials with links to mafia-style gangs reached 11,829 and a total of 8,288 people received Party disciplinary or administrative penalties by December 2018, Xinhua said. 

The  also followed major incidents that brought to light the problem of safety in nightclubs. 

On May 20, the roof of a bar collapsed in Baise, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, killing six people and injuring another 87.

Eleven days later, a fire broke out at a KTV in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin Province. There were no casualties, but several stores nearby were damaged. 

Losing business

As late as 10 pm, the Global Times reporter noticed not many people on Huaihai street in Suzhou, and there were just a few cars parked on the street.

Some large nightclubs were closed, with anti-gang crime slogans hung on their doors. 

For the reporter, it was a very different scene from what is usually expected on the most famous business street in Suzhou.

"The street used to get busy as early as 7-8 pm. You couldn't even find a parking spot if you came late," a local resident engaged in foreign trade, who called himself Peter, told the Global Times. 

Peter said that he used to frequently take his clients to the street, which cost him at least 8,000 yuan ($1,155) each time. "The campaign has helped me save money."

But he also pointed out that some sex workers are still doing business privately, which they refer to as "take out."

In response, the anonymous Suzhou police officer said that they were ramping up their crackdown on prostitution in cars, where this kind of illegal business is most likely to take place. 
Newspaper headline: Striking hard

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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