The instance of a group abusing women in Tangshan, Hebei province, China, has recently sparked public outrage. The Tangshan gangsters’ past is astonishing, and the recent events all have links to the underground.

Guns are outlawed in China, although illegal weapon possession is rampant in Tangshan city, Hebei province. According to Chinese media, during the “Special Operation Gun Hunting” in 2015, Tangshan municipal police confiscated more than 1,200 weapons and nearly 32,000 rounds of ammunition in three months (from June to September). Tangshan police recovered 207 illicit firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammo, comprising more than 1,800 kg of explosives, between April 1 and May 7, 2017.

Except for the 1976 earthquake, what made Tangshan renowned throughout China was the “Tangshan Milling Knife Team,” which arose a few years after the earthquake. According to Sina, the team is called “The Milling Knife Team” because the members like to carry military green school bags with a sharp milling knife in each bag that may be brought out and used at any time. Because individual ownership of guns and ammunition are prohibited in China, milling knives have become the weapon of choice for brawls.

The Tangshan milling knife team’s operating zone is not restricted to Tangshan. According to The Epoch Times, they once traveled to the south to confront the gangsters in Tianjin, Dongxian, and Qinhuangdao so they could fight with the gang there and steal the territory and business of the Northeast gang. They also robbed their business area. These “trophies” have earned them the title of “North China’s No. 1 Hegemon.”

The milling knife team is portrayed as a horrible act in China’s state official media, but online discussions reveal this is not the case. A Tangshan local who goes by the nickname Joycee on the foreign website (Chinese name is Anonymous Forum) stated that they were demolished because they halted Deng Xiaoping’s convoy, the Chinese leader Communist Party at the time. It is impossible to verify explicitly, as state media has confirmed the words “block the way of military vehicles.”

The CCP started the so-called “Strike Hard” campaign in 1983. The CCP’s highest level proposes that punishment for public security issues is to be “heavier and speedier” and that the death penalty be “returned to subordinates.” On July 25, 1983, Liu Fuzhi, the Communist Party of China’s Minister of Public Security at the time, called the Tangshan City Public Security Bureau, demanding that the Milling Knife Team be obliterated within a week, or he would be fired from the job as director. As a result, almost 600 people were arrested in Tangshan, with over 50 sentenced to death.

The CCP has performed three “Strike Hard” campaigns since 1983. According to NetEase, the first crackdown alone resulted in the deaths of 24,000 people. According to the People’s Daily, Deng Xiaoping chose suppression because the Tangshan milling knife team obstructed his motorcade.

Deng Xiaoping took a vacation at Beidaihe, Hebei province, in the summer of 1983. Because there was no freeway then, they could only travel on the national highway, which passed via Tangshan. However, when the convoy passed by, the police car clearing the road did not pay the toll and did not comprehend the local norms, which enraged the Milling Knife Team. Dozens of Milling Knife squad members surrounded Deng Xiaoping’s convoy, two policemen were attacked and killed on the scene, and the police car was wrecked. The convoy was attacked for half an hour, and the Milling Knife squad did not “respect the chief” until the Tangshan City Public Security Bureau arrived. Deng Xiaoping became enraged, and the “Strike Hard” campaign began. Tangshan Milling Knife, which had ruled Northern China for several years, was rapidly besieged and suppressed, becoming the first to be destroyed.

Another factor that makes Tangshan notable is its leader, Yang Shukuan, a local mob boss who was nicknamed “Tangshan Wolf” more than ten years ago. According to NetEase, he not only illegally utilized dozens of guns, but he also owned an armored car.

Yang Shukuan was born in 1969 and began working after finishing junior high school. During the reorganization and transformation of Chinese firms in the 1990s, he purchased a bankrupt factory with bank loans and sold it similarly. Yang Shukuan developed Huayun Industry Group in 2000, transitioned to private enterprise, and joined the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Yang Shukuan loves collecting automobiles and has purchased numerous premium vehicles, including Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and others. Yang Shukuan is claimed to have personally imposed the rules: automobiles in the mid-range, such as Toyota, are not permitted to enter the area. Tangshan was previously a third-tier Chinese city, but Yang Shukuan used his power to bring high-class vehicles to Tangshan, elevating the city to a new level.

However, what Yang Shukuan enjoys the most are the numerous military vehicles, including an amphibious jeep, a military Iveco, and even disguised armored cars. He and his juniors frequently drove military vehicles through Tangshan’s streets, showcasing their superiority, terrifying others but also making them envious.

Yang Shukuan also enjoys collecting weapons. A deputy director of the Tangshan Public Security Bureau gave him his first two Browning firearms. He then “borrowed” a gun from the local armory to play with, which he has not yet returned.

When Yang Shukuan was apprehended in 2007, police seized 35 pistols of various sorts, 19 handguns, several assault rifles, more than 300 rounds of ammunition, and 12 tear gas canisters. The case has been labeled the “largest gun-related case” since the establishment of the CCP.

Yang Shukuan and his gang used military trucks and guns to extort more than 800 million yuan ($120 million) from other enterprises and occupy multiple mines.

Unlike the United States, China has traditionally prohibited the possession of firearms, but the illicit gun ownership rate in Tangshan City is exceptionally high.

Mr. Sun, who frequently does business with Tangshan companies, told The Epoch Times that Tangshan is teeming with iron and steel firms, most of which are run by gangsters. Many local private entrepreneurs and venture investors are “collaborators with criminals.” 

Mr. Sun had met some of the “more capable” people in the area ten years before arriving in Tangshan. They introduced him to the military vehicles marked ‘Guard.’ This provides them with several advantages:

  1. No one dares to antagonize them.
  2. They can violate traffic lights.
  3. They do not have to pay to cross the highway.

“Once in their automobile, I met armed officers with helmets checking in at night,” Mr. Sun said. When the armed officer demanded that the motorist present his driver’s license, the driver replied, “Look at the license plate in front of you.” When the armed cop saw our license plate, he instantly greeted us and let us go. “

Many private entrepreneurs in Tangshan, according to Mr. Sun, have weapons, armored helmets, and bulletproof vests at their workplaces.

As previously reported, a group of people abused several young women at a barbecue restaurant in Tangshan early on June 10 this year because they refused to speak to them. Following the event, someone circulated a photograph of the culprit and the local police. NetEase, a Chinese news web, tweeted, “Many Tangshan police officers have been detained! The former Secretary of the city’s party committee serves as the underground’s henchman. “Zhang He, the former Secretary of the Tangshan City Committee, is said to be the backbone of local criminals.

According to independent writer Zhuge Liangming, “gang” or “gangster” refers to gangs that plundered houses and resisted the authorities. However, gangsters are now working with the government, police, and bandits to form one family, which is the mutual use of bad individuals for their mutual advantage.

He said: “In the Tangshan case, at least the police turned a blind eye to this wicked force; otherwise, why did the criminals vanish during the CCP’s ‘strike hard’ campaign? The CCP is, in fact, China’s true underworld. When Jiang Zemin, the former CCP leader, pushed people to “shut up and make money,” and when he intended to “annihilate” the Falun Gong followers who practice Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, the CCP became the most powerful mafia. And in a country dominated by gangs, anything is possible.”

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