Such gangs or triads are also called “black societies” in China.(Hindustan Times)
Such gangs or triads are also called “black societies” in China.(Hindustan Times)

Showing off tattoos, throwing feces part China’s new ‘soft violence’

The government announced the new category after it was found that organised crime groups or gangs were taking to “soft violence” instead of the well-defined norms of criminal behaviour like physical violence.
By Sutirtho Patranobis | Beijing
PUBLISHED ON APR 10, 2019 06:34 PM IST

China has put together a new category of criminal behaviour called “soft violence” that includes stalking, throwing feces, brandishing tattoos and deliberately shutting utilities to threaten and harass citizens as the country’s ongoing campaign against organised crime gathers pace.

The government announced the new category after it was found that organised crime groups or gangs were taking to “soft violence” instead of the well-defined norms of criminal behaviour like physical violence.

“Revealing personal information, damaging property, home invasions, setting off firecrackers, playing funeral music or placing wreaths to threaten others, are considered soft violence,” the government said.

Some gangs have been found to be operating in the real estate sector and also running illegal taxi services.

Such gangs or triads are also called “black societies” in China.

The new category was announced at a high-level conference attended by officials from China’s top government bodies -- the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the top body responsible for prosecution and investigation, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), responsible for internal security, and the Ministry of Justice.

“The move comes as many mafia-style gangs in China have deliberately turned to ‘soft violence’ instead of downright violent criminal behaviour amid the nationwide campaign against organised crime,” the officials announced.

Soft violence has long troubled law enforcement personnel at the basic level as no regulation clarifies what this behaviour is or tells them how to deal with it, Du Hangwei, vice minister of the MPS was quoted as saying by the state-controlled tabloid, Global Times.

Du added: “Public security bureaus should implement the new regulations carefully.”

The new category also includes a definition for mafia-style gangs.

“Groups of people that try to threaten others by organised behaviours, including wearing the same clothing or showing off tattoos or special slogans will be treated as mafia-style gangs,” the report said.

China’s campaign against organised crime initiated in January 2018 has seen the removal of 1,082 mafia-style gangs and the seizure of 1,620 guns by law enforcement agencies until the end of the year, the official news agency, Xinhua reported.

As part of the campaign, China punished 3,021 people in a crackdown on gang-related crime and the local “protective umbrellas” that allow it to operate, the news agency reported in February.

The “strike hard” campaign will last for three years and is part of President Xi Jinping’s broader anti-corruption campaign.

Defining soft violence indicates that the campaign will be specific, Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told GT.

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