Emerging Civil Society in Shenzhen

Recently I experienced something that moved, astonished and excited me. I’m not sure whether Shenzhen’s Civil Society is fully here yet, but at least I think Civil Society in Shenzhen is becoming a part of our day to day reality.
 
I got a call late last Friday afternoon. “Are you Ms Pan, this call is from Shenzhen Public Security Bureau”. What? I’ve never got their call before. My first response is a little bit strange. ” Yes, I am. What’s up? I’m in trouble ?”

”No, no, sorry to interrupt you. Can I take you a few minutes to response to your queries and advice to the People's Government of Shenzhen Municipality hot line a few weeks ago. Your inquiries were forwarded it to our department for us to follow up on. Firstly, many thanks for your participation actively and good advice.”   “Oh, that’s ok”, I started to put my heart at rest
 
l         “Re SMS short messages flooding into our cell phones.” It’s really a serious problem at present. Many people suffer a lot, in a sense it is a high tech crime. It’s an international problem. We are paying attention to it. We need many related departments and units’ corporation such as China Mobile, China telecom, etc., sometimes we even need cross-regional or cross-border cooperation. Though our department took a lot of measures, it’s so difficult to collect evidence and to track and catch the criminals. Normally, the cell phone numbers shown in the short messages for cheating are fictitious. The criminals hide so deep, their criminal headquarters or short message group-sending System may be located in other city or other country-----. Next time once you get the short message please edit it with the original cell phone number and forward it to 0755110 or 10086999. First hand information is very important for us. We can track and investigate and connect related units to cooperate avoiding more victims.” 
 
Note: This point relates to mobile phone ‘phishing’ that is rampant here in China. It generally works like this. You get an SMS message on your cell phone telling you that you have won the lottery or some other award and they ask you for your bank account number so they can deposit the funds directly. So, people hand over lots of sensitive information and are essentially robbed electronically. Why would people do that? Well, here a very large part of all business is handled electronically, people pay their bills via cell phone, and the way the criminals use those SMS messages is virtually identical to a lot of other legitimate business that already goes on here. So, it is often hard to tell what is real and what is not.      
 
l         “Re some beggars in Shekou Sea world often block the way begging for money. Actually, civil affair department want to help them and sent them to official rescue station, but most of them don’t like to go home, they can make more money via this way. That’s a social problem—we have no solution but we are working on it.”
 
l        “Re Dong Bin road crime happens frequently. Dong Bin road located between Shekou area and Nanyou area. It was involved with three police stations. It’s a cross-area place. We will focus on that place-------.”
 
Note: A little background might be necessary to bring into focus of the Dong Bin Road question. Way back when China opened itself to the outside world, they did so incrementally. First Shekou was identified as an ‘open to the outside world city’ and Special Economic Zone. Now, the city of Shenzhen has in excess of 14 million people and is made up of zones or areas of the city – just like New York. Shekou is one and Nanyou is another. Until just a few years ago, Chinese Nationals were not supposed to have access to the Special Economic Zone and foreigners were still issued visas only to the Shekou part of Shenzhen. I still have visas like this in my passport. So, that border street bisects an area that is now all part of one city, but is still a border between the rich and developed part of Shekou and the lesser affluent Nanyou. So, some street crime does exist there because there is a jurisdictional issue with the police where neither police force really knows who is responsible for that part of town. So, that vacuum of police enforcement has, of course, been filled by those that take advantage of that lack of police patrols.
 
“Anyway, we really want you to understand our government and we are truly grateful to you.
We earnestly hope Shenzhen citizens look like you can keep sharing their concerns and pointing out problems. Let’s cooperate together to keep us living in a good safe environment.”
 
“Thanks for your call, you have given me a lesson. You have changed my old ideas about being just a common citizen, the government did not used to listen to my complains, my advice, my voice. I’d like to keep going to do what I’ve done, it’s a citizen’s responsibility
 
That sweet and tender woman’s voice sounded like a beautiful song and left me a with a deep impression.  I feel so cool.