Policing Crises in Mainland China: The Shenzhen Landslide, Tianjin Explosion and Shanghai Stampede
The three case studies in this chapter show that the mainland Chinese police, including the fire service, had varying responsibilities in the incidents concerned. In the Shenzhen landslide, the police response to the landslide was swift, but the main responsibility came from the Guangming district government, which contracted out the waste management task to Luwei Company that in turn signed a contract with the Yishenglong Company to deal with the construction waste in the industrial park. Public maladministration at the industrial park level had to shoulder the responsibility of the landslide, for the Guangming district administration should have monitored the process of handling waste management. The police role in the Shenzhen landslide appeared to be minimal. However, the degree of police responsibility in the Tianjin port explosion tended to be much higher as the fire service department failed to grasp the serious extent of the dangerous chemicals that were stored in the port area. Again, public maladministration at the level of Tianjin provincial government existed; the lack of supervision and coordination from the customs department and the supervision and safety bureau demonstrated the limited power of the local police. The degree of police responsibility was the greatest in the Shanghai stampede compared with the Shenzhen landslide and the Tianjin explosion. The lack of contingency planning, the absence of crowd control measures and the clumsy response of the police to the Shanghai stampede all illustrated the extent of police maladministration at the level of Shanghai and Huangpu governments. The three case studies displayed a common pattern: public maladministration persisted and brought about the tragedies. While police accountability varied in the three cases, the most serious incident that exposed police maladministration was the Shanghai stampede. Overall, the PRC police can be seen as being responsive to crises quite promptly at the provincial and local levels, but they must take preventive measures together with better coordination, communication and collaboration with other government departments with a view to avoiding other.