China faces a new threat of widespread crime and violence this year after a sharp jump in the number of violent crimes in 2009, an annual legal research report by the country's top think-tank warned Thursday.
Last year saw a "drastic increase" in violent crimes, crimes against property, crimes disrupting the market economic order, and crimes disrupting social stability, according to the report on China's Rule of Law released by the Social Sciences Academic Press Thursday.
Criminal prosecutions increased by more than 10 percent in 2009, and public security cases increased by about 20 percent, it said.
"The dire crime situation has a close connection to the influence of the economic crisis," Jin Gaofeng, associate professor of criminology at Chinese People's Public Security University, said in the report.
The report noted that employment-related conflicts will not be solved even if the economic situation improves in 2010.
Therefore, stealing, robbery and swindling cases will continue to increase this year, the report said.
"Another reason (for the increase) is because of the authority's tightening measures last year against bribery and embezzlement crimes, as well as crimes of malfeasance," Jin said.
For example, by the end of 2009, the Chongqing operation to crack down on gangs resulted in nearly 3,000 people detained and 200 officials implicated for their alleged connections to organized crimes.
The government also tightened measures to discipline its legal enforcement officials in 2009, in the wake of the widespread disbelief and outrage of netizens toward the official explanation that a 24-year-old man died from serious brain injuries while playing hide-and-seek in a detention center in Yunnan province.
"Internet anti-corruption" also became a popular phrase in 2009, referring to netizens' oversight of officials' acts of corruption, the report said.
Zhou Jiugeng, a real estate management bureau chief in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, whose taste for expensive cigarettes and large cars triggered an online debate in China, has been sent to jail for corruption.
The report also said the proportion of "major and key cases" saw an uphill trend in 2009, with more senior officials involved in cases of corruption.
The corruption frequently happened in the field of construction projects, and the amount of money involved also sharply jumped, it said.
"China has carried out judicial reforms and made remarkable processes," Xiong Qiuhong, a researcher of law with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily Thursday.
"The government has worked against tempering justice with mercy, strengthened the supervision of judicial personnel and reformed the fund safeguarding system," she said.