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Nation vows to smash smuggling
( 2003-08-06 07:08) (China Daily)

The full weight of Chinese law will be felt by smugglers as the country continues to fight the scourge, Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed.

Police intercepted a large amount of smmuggled cigarettes in Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province. [newsphoto.com.cn]
And although the fight against smuggling has achieved remarkable results in recent years, there is still much work to do throughout the country.

Wen made the remarks during a two-day State Council conference on fighting smuggling, which concluded Tuesday.

He said governments at all levels should view the clamping down on smuggling as their top priority.

Also, the supervisory role of the media should be strengthened in a bid to make greater inroads into the activities of smugglers.

Customs and other law enforcement agencies should take steps to prevent corruption that could assist smuggling and severely punish those who take bribes or allow smugglers to operate, Wen added.

At the meeting it was decided that efforts will continue to focus on smuggling activities in key coastal regions, the smuggling of key commodities and money laundering.

Law-abiding importing and exporting operations will become more standardized and the relevant laws and systems will be perfected.

In addition, advanced technologies and equipment will be introduced to combat smuggling.

Large-scale smuggling has been effectively curbed since 1998, according to data from the Customs General Administration.

Statistics show customs houses at all levels across the country uncovered nearly 56,000 cases of smuggling -- involving 43 billion yuan (US$5.2 billion) worth of goods -- from 1998 to the end of 2002.

In the same period, public security bodies solved 14,000 smuggling cases, industrial and commercial bodies unveiled 27,000 cases of smuggling and 220,000 tobacco smuggling cases were uncovered.

According to the Legal Daily, the number of smuggling cases uncovered each year has been declining since 1999.

Meanwhile, the amount of tax collected by the country's customs houses has been increasing. The total amount of tax collected from 1998 to last year surpassed 1,000 billion yuan (US$120 billion).

Customs' anti-smuggling police force has detained 14,955 suspects since 1999, with 7,791 of them being taken into custody.

In the past five years, procuratorates at all levels have litigated 7,030 smuggling suspects, while the courts at various levels have dealt with 3,324 smuggling cases. About 4,690 convicted smugglers have been punished.

One of the most notorious cases involved a gang in Guangzhou, the capital of South China's Guangdong Province, which had been smuggling diesel from Hong Kong to the mainland since 1998.

Within four years, the smuggling group, headed by Zheng Hongjun, had smuggled 540,000 tons of diesel and 10,000 tons of cooking oil, worth about 1.4 billion yuan (US$169 million).

The group had evaded 350 million yuan (US$42 million) in taxes.

More than 150 people, including Zheng, have so far been arrested.

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