The recent mass shootings occurred in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas in the U.S. resulting in 29 deaths 53 wounded, again caught the public’s attention in the country. Violent crimes like the above mass shootings tend to be viewed as a hate crime out of racial discrimination or white supremacy due to historical reasons - black slaves and immigrants (especially Asians) were discriminated in a White dominated society. However, the slavery was abolished in 1865 for 154 years now and the Chinese Exclusion Act was terminated in December, 1943, 76 years ago. The U.S. came a long way to remove the shadow of racial or any other discrimination. Though discrimination still exists, it is not the sole cause for most violent crimes. Whenever we have violence, naturally we should try to find the root cause. Whether it was a shooting incidence or a mass murder or civil unrest or terrorist act, if guns were involved in the incidents, some people always focus on our gun laws, as if the availability of guns is the sole reason for attracting shooters and murderers to commit the violent crimes. Of course, availability of weapons to criminals can make the crime more deadly with more casualties, but the root of the violent crimes is not the guns but a social disease or society problem which the society rarely dealt with it deep enough or persistent enough beyond gun control discussion. I would claim that the violent crimes cited above, civil riots and terror attacks all have a common root cause with evidence, that is, the root cause of violent crimes can be traced to society of poor economic condition. When economy is poorly managed and people have no meaningful jobs to maintain a decent living, they are easily driven or lured to commit violent crimes. Even most of the fanatic terrorists influenced by religious faith to commit hate crimes were more likely poor people living in a poor country or region with devastated economy. I shall use real-life examples to illustrate the above point.
Violent crimes occur even in Communist China under strict gun control laws. In the city of Shao Yang (Hunan Province), there were serious crimes (extortion, mutilating human body, and mass murder) in years and the city was controlled and terrified by the local Mafia for decades. The provincial and central governments went in numerous times to get rid of the Mafia and the thuds by force but the criminals and crimes came back again and again. Finally the government figured out the root of the problem. Shao Yang was a successful industrial city with manufacturing in the 1970’s. But these industries were made obsolete in the 1980‘s as new technology replaced the old ones. Shao Yang’s economy sunk to one of the poorest city in Hunan. Then the Mafia and violent crimes started. Recognizing this, the central government devised an economic revitalization plan, offering Shao Yang youth job opportunities. Then the thuds and crimes were removed and gone.
The U.S. violent crimes are mostly committed in poor cities with poor economy as well. This correlation is known to sociologists, the question is why didn’t we do something for this problem and prevent crime in advance. The Shao Yang city example is a worthy study case for us. Recently, we have seen a string of news reporting about China’s Xinjiang Province where allegedly (by Western Media) Muslim Chinese are put in “concentration camp” violating human rights. Since China appears to be focusing on raising her people’s living standard (hundreds of millions of people moved out of poverty) and conscious of human rights in recent years, I did a little research on the Xinjiang issue. Based on my findings, the Communist Party of China was recognizing the vulnerability of China’s Muslim population to extreme Islamic infiltration and influence if there were not enough jobs for the Muslim population. China’s Muslim population is fairly populated in Xinjiang, thus China had set up quite extensive skill and job training camps in Xinjiang to offer Muslim Chinese skill training and job opportunities. The policy is honorable and the purpose is clear.
Shao Yang was a third tier industrial city peaked in 1980. It was in printing machines, hydraulic machines, truck manufacturing and chemical fiber, even a little bit of low-tech semiconductor industry. In 1970-80 all these supported 50% of the population as factory workers, but the industries started to decay in the 80’s, partly because war had stopped affecting Shao Yang’s manufacturing demand and partly because Shao Yang’s existing industries became obsolete. As time went on, the unemployment problem became very serious in Shao Yang. Thus jobless youth committed crimes; Shao Yang became a notorious crime city. What saved Shao Yang later was the rise of nearby Shenzhen - Zhu Jiang region which offered job opportunities to Shao Yang youth.
If one would review today’s current events, the U.S.-China trade war, South Korea-Japan trade conflict, Brazil’s new right-wing presidency, Britain’s painful Brexit from EU and Singapore’s near zero GDP growth (0.1% projected for Singapore’s second half of 2019, similarly a low growth in Hong Kong) calling for a drastic economic stimulation policy, we could understand that the world economy might be in trouble. One can then easily comprehend why today’s Hong Kong protests, on the surface, appeared as political demands but in reality its root cause was economic problems. The wealth gap in Hong Kong ranks the highest in the world. A large percentage of population struggles to make ends meet. With high price housing people cannot afford to have a decent living, basically feeling insecure and worrying about a dim future. Chinese government seems to be fully aware of Hong Kong’s problem beyond the external political agitation made by foreign interests. China selects to be calm refraining from using force to stop the riots and protests; instead, China is announcing an ambitious development plan to make Shengzhen-Zhujiang region to be the world’s Model development zone. This naturally will include Hong Kong and offer a future opportunity to Hong Kong youth in a similar way like Shao Yang situation discussed above except in a bigger scale and involving strengthening China’s financial industry and protecting Hong Kong as a world financial center.
We may return to the above mentioned Chinese government’s policy regarding offering job training for Muslim Chinese in Xinjiang. The job training and China’s One Belt and One Road (OBOR or BRI) economic development are matched programs which are implemented on the same philosophy of creating job opportunities to the youth in Xinjiang and improving Xinjiang’s economy. China is surrounded with Muslim countries and has a significant Muslim population in Xinjiang and Qinghai. Thus China is setting up systematic and organized vocational training camps in Xinjiang to train Muslims particularly the Muslim youth. This measure fundamentally addresses the job (economic) problems in Xinjiang and Qinghai where the Muslim Chinese population is vulnerable to the extreme Islamic influence if they don’t have a good economy. What is laughable is that The West fake news is reporting those camps as concentration camps violating human rights. I can predict that China will eventually have provided her Muslim population’s job needs through program like OBOR enabling the Muslim Chinese to be productive members in their society.
Based on the above examples and discussions, we may state that the root cause of violence can be correlated with poor economy. Thus creating jobs and improving economy are effective measures for preventing violent crimes and riots.