Chinese fish farmer complains that locals keep stealing his stocks, but police will not make the catch

Mandy Zuo

A shrimp and fish farmer in central China has complained that his neighbours are putting his business at risk because they keep stealing his stocks.

Liu Zhengxuan, a 28-year-old entrepreneur, started his business in Dongkou county in Hunan province five years ago with two classmates from an agricultural college in the provincial capital Changsha.

According to him, the thefts began about two years ago and since then the villagers have broken through the protective steel fences to raid his ponds 10 times, filling their containers with as much as they can carry and causing heavy losses to his business.

“In the most ridiculous case, there were more than 200 people looting at the same time,” Liu said.

“When they first started, they just took the fish,” he said. “Now, they have come for the shrimps although our staff tried to stop them.”

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Liu complained to the police on several occasions but the officers were reluctant to take action at first.

“The villagers told me that it was futile to call the police because they have just come for fishing,” he said.

But the police stepped up their action last week after Liu aired his grievances on social media.

Lin Libo, party secretary of the Yanshan township, where Liu’s shrimp farms are located, told The Beijing News  on Sunday that three villagers had been detained over the thefts so far.

Liu is one of the many victims of public plundering in China.

In August last year, residents in Henan province’s Gushi county stole 33 tonnes of concrete well covers that fell from a lorry that had been involved in an accident.

That same month, visitors to Shanghai Disneyland stole dozens of Disney-themed balloons, priced at 80 yuan (US$11) each, from a hawker who accidentally let them go.

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In June this year, the Longqiao Cultural and Ecological Park in Sichuan province’s Lu county was forced to close after hundreds of tourists stripped it of its celebrated lotus flowers.

Yi Shenghua, director of Brave Lawyers law firm in Beijing, said that it was a common problem in Chinese society because many people believed that “the law can’t be enforced when everyone is an offender”.

“People tend to think they are only taking a small amount of something cheap, and there are many others who are doing the same. Therefore, to them, it is just fun and nothing illegal,” he said.

“But it is an offence under existing law. It amounts to infringement of not only people’s rights to their property, but also a violation of public order. In reality, often the one who takes the lead or who plunders the most would be held responsible,” he said.

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