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Nation cracks down on smugglers
( 2004-01-12 09:40) (China Daily by Liang Chao)

Chinese customs uncovered 12,939 smuggling cases involving 9.9 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) in 2003, officials announced on Friday.

A major crackdown towards the end of last year helped increase the numbers of arrests to 1,914, a senior official with the General Administration of Customs said on Friday during a national conference in Shanghai.

The result was a 23 per cent hike in the number of cases solved and a 51 per cent hike in the total goods seized.

China stepped up efforts to crack down on smuggling late last year following a national meeting in August. Some 560 cases "12 per cent more than the same time in 2002 "were uncovered during the following four months. The cases involved goods valued at 5 billion yuan (US$600 million), or 98 per cent more than the total seized in the previous year.

The cases also represented a 60 per cent rise in tax evasion.

"Such an intensive crackdown has held up the once rising tide of smuggling and launched a new round of anti-smuggling campaigns throughout China,"said the official.

Over the past months, anti-smuggling task forces have been set up to look into smuggling in major areas, key smuggling channels and important commodities.

Based on an information network, the customs administration's anti-smuggling police intensified crackdowns over areas and channels where smuggling have been rampant.

In Nanjing, the capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, for example, police found clues which helped them catch 30 suspects engaged in trafficking 460 million yuan (US$55.4 million) worth of refrigerated marine products into the province and its neighbouring areas.

The official said customs departments also clamped down on trafficking of drugs, cultural relics and pirated DVD disks during the past year, and Customs officers seized 4,456.5 kilograms of drugs during 2003.

To catch more major smugglers the administration and its agencies have expanded their information channels by issuing online circulars and co-operating with frontier guards.

This year, the official said, "anti-smuggling crackdowns will focus on major cases to regulate trade order, rectify the export and import market and create a level playing field for the country's foreign trade."

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