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  • The Politics of Cross-Border Crime in Greater China: Case Studies of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao
  • Franklin J. Woo (bio)
Sonny Shiu-Hing Lo . The Politics of Cross-Border Crime in Greater China: Case Studies of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2009. xvii, 245 pp. Hardcover $72.95, ISBN 978-0-7656-1276-2.

Sonny Shiu-Hing Lo is an associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He formerly taught at the University of East Asia (Macao), and three institutions of higher learning in Hong Kong (Lingnan College, the University of Science and Technology, and the University of Hong Kong). His book is part of a series of thirteen volumes written by different authors between 1991 and 2004 focusing primarily on Hong Kong. Lo's The Politics of Cross-Border Crime in Greater China, however, represents a conscious move of the series to expand beyond Hong Kong to a more inclusive integrating China, showing the interactive linkages between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

It is the author's claim that

political science has neglected the topic of transborder crime until very recently, when focus on the subject was greatly increased after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. Most textbooks on international relations have turned a blind eye to the concepts of organized crime and transborder crime, although terrorism remain one of the crucial topics in the study of world politics.

(p. 5)

Though Lo focuses is primarily on crime across borders as part and parcel of economic ties in Greater China, his book is a good indication of the fact that in today's globalized world, we can no longer look at any one place or region in isolation from the larger picture.

For Lo, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, "three thriving dynamos—all staunchly capitalistic, highly marketized, liberally open and vigorously freewheeling—are [End Page 242] now closely pursued in style and replicated in practice by Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and other mainland Chinese metropolises" (p. xi). This coming together of an avowedly Communist state with three capitalistic enclaves has been the ongoing process since the economic reforms in the PRC that began in the late 1970s. With the centripetal forces of economic integration that are bringing this East Asia region more closely together, the emerging relationships between China, Hong Kong, and Macao are complex, "yielding almost unlimited developmental opportunities and also posing unforeseeable risks and greater challenges to mainland China's own quest for modernity, development, affluence, international recognition and national integration" (pp. xi-xii).

We can read on the Internet of the 174,000 tourists from the People's Republic that visited Taiwan between the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009; we can well imagine the amount of human traffic moving to Hong Kong and Macao. Before the economic reforms in the PRC and the subsequent influx of economic and social traffic among these four places, cross-border crimes in greater China was pretty much limited to illegal border crossings, smuggling of manufactured and agricultural products, and such rare events as the hijacking of an aircraft. Increased economic integration of these four places since the 1980s, however, has also brought complex criminal activities such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking, smuggling of stolen objects of art, fraud, laundering of embezzled or other illegal money (especially between China and North Korea), cross-border gambling, kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking for prostitution, loan sharking at high interest, and other crimes—all made the more efficient through the use of electronic technology such as the cell phone and the Internet. The porous nature of the borders of these places is not unlike the border between Mexico and the United States, where the drug cartels' and drug lords' internecine killings threaten the stability of both countries.

Although Hong Kong and Macao both returned to the PRC in 1997 and 1999, respectively, the one country/two system formula applicable to these two is an anathema to Taiwan, which rejects it flatly, insisting on its own integrity and autonomy, not as a province of China...


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