After investigation on Heywood’s death, Chongqing police vow better protection of foreigners

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

The Heywood case is a very rare one, and very few foreigners have been victimized in crimes or other offenses in Chongqing during the past two years, an official with the municipal public security bureau told Xinhua.

Evidence uncovered so far in investigation of the Heywood case indicates he died of homicide, of which Bogu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief of Chongqing, and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Bo’s home, are highly suspected.

According to investigation results, Bogu Kailai and her son had 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 over suspicion of homicide.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that except for the Heywood case, there have not been any violent crimes against foreigners in Chongqing since the start of 2010.

Some foreigners are targeted in illegal conducts 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 the majority of such cases took place at densely populated tourist sites.

In 2010, 320,000 people from overseas entered Chongqing, and 48 reported being victimized by illegal conducts, a proportion of 1.5 per 10,000, according to official statistics. In 2011, 58 of the year’s 360,000 overseas visitors to Chongqing reported falling victim to illegal conducts, a share of 1.6 per 10,000.

Once such cases are reported, police spring into action to redeem losses for foreign visitors. For example, in October last year, policemen recovered a Nikon camera stolen from a student from Zimbabwe in just a day, according to the municipal public security bureau.

The bureau has also announced that it will strengthen crackdown on crimes to protect Chinese as well as foreigners, and also alert Chongqing-bound tourists to increase self-protection awareness.

The number of foreigners entering and exiting Chongqing, an economic hub in southwest China, has dramatically increased in recent years. Figures from the city’s border control authorities show that 12,000 non-Chinese entered the city during the first two months of this year, a year-on-year rise 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 economic and social development.

According to the bureau, the city has improved entry and exit services for foreigners in recent years through initiatives including installing special service stations for overseas visitors and running a 24-hour hotline for booking services.

The murder of Neil Heywood was alleged by former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun who entered, without authorization, the U.S. general consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6.

After the death of Heywood and the Wang Lijun incident, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) decided to investigate Bo Xilai for serious discipline violations.

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

Xinhua