Sunday, 1 May 2011

Why is there so little mafia activity in communist China?

I am probably not the only person who has been wondering why there are so few reports about traditional mafia operations in China. Is it because the communist regime is so effectively fighting criminality? Not really. The answer is to be found in Frederico Varese´s ( Varese is a professor of criminlogy at Oxford) book "Mafias on the Move":

 Given the shortcomings of the Chinese legal system, why haven't they permeated the People's Republic? The answer is simple: Corrupt government officials are performing mafia-like services so competently that the real mafias can't compete. Bribe-taking Communist Party cadres act as a "protective umbrella" for all kinds of businesses.

"Since any economic activity in China is subject to intrusive inspections and requires several permits, and independent courts are not effective in protecting the victims of officials' harassment, even entrepreneurs producing legal commodities, such as light bulbs, can benefit from entering into such arrangements," Mr. Varese writes. "The umbrella system ensures continued control over the economy by officials, albeit one that distorts incentives and produces significant waste."

That's not to say Chinese officials are shy about skimming from illegal activity too. Prostitution, illegal in China, is a prime example. Prostitutes are caught, judged and punished by the police under administrative law—they can be sentenced to severe fines or imprisoned without ever facing a judge. Practically, this means police protecting brothels can coerce prostitutes and brothel owners.

Read the entire article here


In Russia we have a somewhat different situation, compared with China:

Russia and its intelligence agencies are using mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations such as arms trafficking, according to allegations contained in the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

The Kremlin's spy agencies have such a close relationship with top organised criminals that Russia has become a "virtual 'mafia state'," the cables say. The gangsters enjoy secret support and protection and in effect work "as a complement to state structures".

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