ourts around China will hand down harsher sentences, up to and

including the death penalty, for gang-related crimes, under a directive released on Tue

sday by the country’s leading group pursuing a national crackdown on gang crime.

China has taken a tough stance and stepped up its efforts

against gangs. In January last year it launched a three-year campaig

n against mafia-style gangs and officials who shelter criminal organizations.

Chen Yixin, director of the leading group, said at a news confere

nce in Beijing on Tuesday that as of March, more than 79,00

0 people had been prosecuted, and trials are crucial at this stage of the campaign.

Jiang Wei, deputy director of the leading group, said the directive clarifies the legal

definition of mafia-style gang crimes so that other types of cases won’t be misidentified.