What is the Status of Private Detectives in China?
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What is the Status of Private Detectives in China?

The biggest feature of China's private detective industry is "mystery." This has nothing to do with a professional image, but because they are not recognized by Chinese law. China joined the WTO. According to the requirements of the World Trademark Intellectual Property Organization, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China listed "detective companies" in the new "Division of Goods and Services Trademark Registration" in October 2002, allowing registration of "detective company" trademarks. But being able to register does not mean that the company can be established and operated. Because the state has not explicitly changed the relevant policies, private detectives are still "illegal", and private detective companies exist in the form of "consulting companies" and "investigation companies". In China, it is not easy for "private detectives" to avoid legal risks. In order to avoid being hit by government departments, detective companies are so secretive about their business that it naturally looks very mysterious.


Chinese people needs for private investigators fall into four categories: one is investigation of marriage issues, and due to an increase in extramarital affairs and other phenomena, one party in a marriage relationship needs to obtain evidence of "infidelity" from the other; second, it is in a debt dispute The creditor needs to know the debtor's whereabouts, so that the debtor can repay the debt in a timely manner. Third, In business activities, there is a need to understand the business background, credit, and capabilities of participants. Fourth, in criminal cases, the parties want to obtain More evidence to defend or sue.


2002-2012 was a decade of rapid development of private detectives in China. Without government supervision, China's detective industry was very chaotic. The scale of Chinese private detective companies was the largest in 2008. There are about 2,500 to 3,000 private survey companies, with more than 200,000 professional investigators, plus part-time and temporary hires, and nearly 300,000 employees. This shows the demand of society for the private detective industry. Prior to 2009, the most prominent problems in the detective industry were: first, personal privacy information was sold by small companies for extremely low prices, resulting in a flood of personal privacy leaks; Second is that private detectives often include debt collection work. The use of underworld debt collection and violent debt collection is widespread, and even lead to the death of the debtor. Third, some malicious clients use the information and materials provided by private investigators to carry out criminal activities, causing many social hidden dangers and risks.. In 2009, China's public security department, in conjunction with other national agencies, has focused and severely cracked down on private detective companies nationwide. At least more than 70% of private detective practitioners have switched careers, but the market has a demand for private detectives and the private detective industry still exists.


After China's entry into the WTO, international trade and economic activities are frequent. Now some large foreign multinational groups in the Chinese market, many issues involving the company's key interests will seek the assistance of private detectives (in fact, foreign investigative agencies such as Pinkerton in the field of intellectual property And other companies have entered the Chinese market).There are many matters that are very professional and not suitable for general legal institutions such as government agencies and law firms.Solving social problems with business logic is the advantage of private investigators. In a society ruled by law, solving problems through legal procedures is undoubtedly the first choice for people to resolve disputes, but there are unavoidable disadvantages: the procedure is relatively complicated, the cost is too high, and it may not be effective. If private detectives can provide more powerful evidence and facts, they can not only provide services to the parties, protect the legitimate interests of citizens, but also greatly reduce the pressure on public prosecutors' agencies. This is why many western countries have complete legal systems, and the private detective industry cannot be completely replaced, and sometimes even the government has to rely on this industry. More importantly, private detectives behave differently from the government. The government does not charge for serving citizens. Private detectives deal with social issues based on business logic. Therefore, to a certain extent, private detectives may be more powerful. Willingness to serve and better work efficiency. From the perspective of market competition, the rise of private detectives may also encourage the government to provide better services to the people. Some scholars believe that if private detectives can obtain a benign social evaluation, this also means that as members of society, we are also an important social management force. This is a manifestation of social progress.


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