More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 109

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, edited extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism’, is to be published March 1 next year, by Kennedy & Boyd, Glasgow, and available from

SHANGHAI society appears to be remarkably law-abiding – at least in respect of serious crime.

In the middle of February 2003, a local police officer was reported as being killed and his buddy seriously injured in the course of a raid on a house of prostitution in the Pudong district of Shanghai.

My first reaction was that surely this could not be so remarkable in a metropolis of around 20 million people.

In fact, this was the first recorded incident of the murder of a policeman in almost two years which seemed to me extraordinary in a city where there must inevitably be a considerable amount of crime purely on a statistical basis.

Of course, a contributory factor to this apparently innate sense of obedience has to be that murderers of policemen are almost invariably sentenced to death.