“‘China has a serial killer problem,’ Beijing criminologist Professor Peng Weimin (a pseudonym at his request) told me over a two-hour dinner of dumplings”
The Chinese press cited the usual factors behind his going amok: greed, irrational hatred of women – his girlfriend supposedly broke up with him — and “revenge against society.” Commercial gain, girl trouble or a kind of all-purpose societal rage are habitually used to explain away otherwise-unfathomable crimes such as Yang Xinhai’s; there is, experts shake their heads, no method to the madness. Indeed, it was only a random spot-check at a nightclub in Cangzhou that caught him. Yang, whose details were on file from previous convictions, was wanted in four provinces for mass murder. Yet it took a background check for the cops to realize they had the country’s most-wanted non-political criminal in their cells.
“There used to be strict hukou [household registration] regulations which forbade people from flowing around,” said Professor Peng. “It doesn’t work like that anymore these days: people can go anywhere they want, which means police don’t have effective control of who’s in their district doing what.”
Allowing free-flow of labor to modernize industry has also enabled predators — and victims — to roam the provinces as anonymous hired hands and has helped create the kind of society that enables those who reject it to strike back the hardest.
“When I killed people I had a desire [to kill more]. This inspired me to kill more,” Yang confessed. “I don’t care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern… I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern.”