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Serious Crime Down, Economic Crime Rises in China

China's Public Security Bureau says there were fewer serious crimes committed in the country last year than in 2006, but the overall crime rate has remained high and economic crimes are on the rise. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The Public Security Bureau said Wednesday that the number of serious crimes, such as arson, explosions, murder, rape and kidnapping went down last year.

The PSB says there were more than 6,000 arson cases, down 11 percent, and 586 cases involving explosives, down 25 percent. No precise figures were given for murder, rape and kidnapping, but the PSB said murder decreased by 10 percent, while rape and kidnapping each dropped about two percent each.

Wu Heping, a spokesman for China's Public Security Bureau, says economic crimes rose more than four percent last year, to more than 84,000 cases.

He says economic crimes have reached a new peak. In recent years with China's fast economic development, economic crimes have been climbing higher every day.

Wu refused to give figures for cases of what Chinese officials call "mass disturbances," such as rioting, demonstrating or protesting, even though such people are often treated as criminals.

He says the number of mass incidents went down last year and continue to decrease. But, he says it is not the Public Security Bureau's duty or responsibility to give such statistics.

In the past, Chinese officials have admitted that hundreds of such incidents occur every day in China's vast countryside, and have grown along with China's wealth gap.

Overall, the PSB says there were more than 4.5 million criminal cases last year, about the same as the year before. The vast majority of crimes involved theft, robbery, and burglary, which hardly dropped at all.