Chongqing police vow to safeguard foreigners

Updated: 2012-04-23 07:54

(China Daily)

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Case involving the death of Briton is out of the ordinary, officials say

Chongqing municipal police have vowed better protection of foreigners in the megacity for business, study or tourism, following a scandal involving the death of the British citizen Neil Heywood.

The Heywood case is highly unusual, an official with the municipal public security bureau told Xinhua News Agency, and very few foreigners have been the victims of crimes or other offenses in Chongqing in the past two years.

Investigators have uncovered evidence indicating that Heywood's death was a homicide. Bogu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief of Chongqing, and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Bo's home, are suspects in the case.

According to investigators, Bogu Kailai and her son had apparently been on good terms with Heywood; however, they are thought to have come into conflict over economic interests.

Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun have been transferred to judicial authorities on suspicion of homicide.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that except for the Heywood case, there have no violent crimes against foreigners in Chongqing since the start of 2010.

Some foreigners are targeted in illegal activities in Chongqing, just as in other major cities in the world, according to the source, but all the cases in the period have involved thefts, and virtually all the victims were foreign tourists and students.

The official added that most of those cases took place in crowded tourist sites.

In 2010, 320,000 people from overseas entered Chongqing, and 48 reported being victimized by illegal activity, or 1.5 people per 10,000, according to officials. In 2011, 58 of the 360,000 overseas visitors to Chongqing that year reported falling victim to illegal activity, or 1.6 people per 10,000.

Police spring immediately into action as soon such activities against overseas visitors are reported, officials said. In October, for example, police recovered a Nikon camera stolen from a Zimbabwean student in one day, according to the municipal public security bureau.

The bureau has also announced that it will strengthen its crackdown on crimes to protect Chinese as well as foreigners and it will also alert tourists to Chongqing to be more vigilant about their safety.

The number of foreigners entering and exiting Chongqing, an economic hub in Southwest China, has dramatically increased in recent years. According to the city's border control authorities, 12,000 non-Chinese entered the city during the first two months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 166.8 percent.

Chongqing foreign-experts affairs authorities announced the city is going to welcome 12,000 foreign experts this year to help with the city's development.

According to the bureau, the city has improved entry and exit services for foreigners in recent years, such as installing special service stations for overseas visitors and running a 24-hour hot line for booking services.

Wang Lijun, the former Chongqing police chief who entered the US general consulate in Chengdu on Feb 6, without authorization, alleged that Heywood was a homicide victim.

After Heywood's death and Wang's visit to the consulate, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to investigate Bo Xilai on suspicion of serious breaches of discipline.

The CPC Central Committee has suspended Bo's membership of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and the CPC Central Committee.