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Ministry of Public Security

The distinction between intelligence and internal security policy is minimal, institutionally speaking. This makes these services not just part of a policy staff process but an integral tool for the preservation of the power of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). According to press reports, State Council budget figures for 2010 and 2011 — even if not broken out by agency — show that the expenditures on internal security systems have outpaced the cost of China’s dramatic military modernization, coming in at $95 billion compared to $92 billion in 2010 and up to $111 billion for 2012.

The responsibilities and structure of public security agencies in China include: the prevention, suppression and investigations of criminal activities; fight against terrorist activities; maintenance of social security and order; fight against behaviors jeopardizing social order; control over traffic, fire and dangerous objects; administration of household registration, identification cards, nationality, exit-and-entry, stay and travel of foreigners in China; maintenance of border security; protection of state assigned persons, venues and facilities; management of gatherings, parades and demonstrations; security inspection on public information networks; supervision and instruction of security work in state organizations, mass organizations, enterprises and important construction sites; and instruction of crime prevention work of community security commissions.

Since the early 1990s, China has appeared precariously unstable; various sources have noted mounting unrest — well over 100,000 “mass incidents” per year by 2001. Reports and photographs of violent demonstrations in various places have given rise to analysis that “Beijing’s control over the coercive system, as well as that system’s capacity to maintain social control, appears to be slipping.” Since that assertion was published in 2001, Beijing has reinvigorated its coercive apparatus.

Releasing statistics about social disturbances has become a winter ritual of sorts for the Chinese Government. At a press conference in January, MPS Vice Minister Liu Jinguo said the number of "mass incidents" in China declined by 16.5 percent in 2006. Also in January, Chen Xiwen, director of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, announced that the number of "mass incidents" nationwide fell by some 20 percent last year, to 23,000, adding that about half were in the countryside. The figure is confusing because in January of last year, the MPS stated that in 2005, there were some 87,000 "disturbances of public order" across the country; by Chen's count, the number of "mass incidents" for 2005 would have been closer to 30,000.

The statements represented the first official reports in recent years of positive progress in reining in protests. The 87,000 "disturbances of public order" figure constituted an uptick over statistics leaked to outside sources in January 2005 indicating that the MPS tabulated some 74,000 "mass incidents" in 2004. In addition, an official Xinhua News Service report from 2005 pegged the number of "mass incidents" in 2003 at 60,000.

How security authorities differentiate a "disturbance of public order" from a "mass incident" remains unclear. The term "mass incident" has no legal definition. Nonetheless, a 2005 article on the website of the China Law Society (an official organization of Chinese legal scholars and professionals) argued that "mass incidents" have two main characteristics, namely 1) they involve large numbers of persons, from tens to hundreds and 2) about two-thirds of the incidents pit regular citizens against government authorities seen as failing to fulfill their official duties. A "disturbance of public order," however, is a legal term in China's criminal code that covers 37 offenses, including unsanctioned public assembly and obstruction of justice, among others.

The Government wanted to give the impression to both domestic and international audiences that its policies, such as the New Socialist Countryside and others initiatives meant to address social disparities, are working. In connection with this, the assumption in media and academic circles is that the statistics on incidents are doctored to show that things are constantly improving.

The ongoing concern at the highest levels stems from the fact that the underlying factors causing social discord in China remain an in some respects are getting worse. Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but many estimate that corruption, land grabs and environmental degradation are the most common complaints touching off protests. Moreover, disparities between coast and interior, rich and poor and urban and rural residents are as pronounced as ever. Bitterness abounds in the countryside because many rural residents feel they have borne the cost of China's modernization and "paid" for the growth of the boomtowns whose residents reap a disproportionate share of the benefits. A cadre's ticket up the career ladder comes from ensuring economic growth. When protest activity erupts, the instinct is to suppress it and then cover up the fact that it ever occurred.

The hiring of heavies to disperse rallies is a regular occurrence and that often local police forces provide them with fake uniforms. The practice only serves to increase tensions and exacerbate public skepticism about the police. In fact, doubts about security officials' honesty remain rampant in Chinese society. A popular Chinese aphorism translates roughly as "police and thugs are all in the same family."

The Ministry of Public Security is the principal Chinese police authority. The ministry had functional departments for areas such as intelligence, police operations, prisons, and political, economic, and communications security. Subordinate to the ministry were provincial-level public security departments; public security bureaus and subbureaus at the county level (the bureaus located in the prefectures and large cities, the subbureaus in counties and municipal districts); and public security stations at the township level. While public security considerations had a strong influence at all levels of administration, the police appeared to wield progressively greater influence at the lower levels of government.

The organization of local public security stations could be inferred from the tasks with which the police were charged. Generally, each station had sections for population control, pretrial investigations, welfare, traffic control, a detention center, and other activities.

The police agencies include the Ministry of Public Security at the central level, the local public security bureaus at various levels and public security forces for railways, highways, navigation, air transport, forests and other fields. The organizational structure from top to bottom is: Ministry of Public Security, Provincial Public Security Departments/Bureaus, Prefectural Public Security Departments/Bureaus, County Public Security Bureaus, Local Police Stations. In addition, the Public Security Offices of Ministry of Railways and Public Security Offices of Ministry of Communications also fall under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security.

The Ministry of Public Security, which operates under the State Council, is the highest police agency in the country. Local public security agencies are responsible for the public security in their respective localities under the dual leadership of local government and higher public agencies. The public security forces for railways, highways, navigation, air transport, forests and other special fields are under the administrative leadership of their respective ministries or departments and the professional leadership of higher public security agencies. They cooperate closely with the local public security agencies.

The Chinese People's Armed Police is a part of the armed forces in the country, a component of the public security force and a branch of the People's police under the leadership of The Central Military Commission and the Ministry of Public Security. The local armed police are under the leadership of the local public security agencies and higher organizations of the armed police. Their principal duties include inner guard, frontier control and inspection, exit and entry control, as well as fire-fighting.

In the 1980s the public security station--the police element in closest contact with the people--was supervised by the public security subbureau as well as by local governments and procuratorates. The procuratorate could assume direct responsibility for handling any case it chose, and it supervised investigations in those cases it allowed the public security station to conduct. A great deal of coordination occurred among the public security organs, the procuratorates, and the courts, so that a trial was unlikely to produce a surprise outcome.

Police were drawn from every segment of the population without restriction as to sex or ethnic origin. Selection was based on political loyalty, intelligence, and health, as it was for the PLA. Most recruits had Communist Youth League backgrounds or were former PLA personnel. There was at least one police school in every provincial-level unit, and others were operated by municipalities.

Usually those police designated for leadership positions attended the police schools, and patrolmen were trained at the unit and on the job. Legal training was emphasized as a method of improving the quality of the police forces. In 1985 three institutions of higher learning for police personnel--the University of Public Security, the University of Police Officers, and the Institute of Criminal Police--offered more than twenty special courses. Students were recruited from senior-middle-school graduates under twenty-two years of age, with a waiver to twenty-five years of age for those having a minimum of two years' experience in public security work.

The Science and Technology Bureau, operating under the Ministry of Public Security, is in charge of national scientific and technical administration that is related to the public security. Computers are extensively used in criminal investigation, traffic control and communication. A fingerprint search system was computerized in 1986. In 1987, a special police communication network linking all the police agencies at the county level and above was established. A radio communication network at provincial level was also established in the 1980s.

China's Ministry of Public Security is in charge of public security for the entire country and is responsible for the education and training of public security personnel and police officers. The basic purposes of public security and police education and training are to enhance the ideological and professional caliber of police officers and to develop them morally, intellectually, and physically. The educational system is designed to develop specialized public security personnel at different levels in universities, colleges, and schools; to train police officers according to their different grades; and to produce specialized personnel of all ranks. Goals of higher institutions are to foster specialized, high-level public security personnel and to train leading police officers above the rank of director of county public security bureaus or sections. China also has vocational schools with 2-year or 3-year programs that are run by provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities.

The Public Security Administrative Cadres College admits applicants for public security organizations who have graduated from middle schools or have an equivalent educational level. The People's Police School is a kind of specialized secondary school that admits graduates from senior middle schools. Once enrolled, students of all universities, colleges, and schools observe a military routine. Inservice training for cadres and police officers is provided in accordance with long-term plans of the Ministry of Public Security.

The Chinese People's University of Police Officers was established in 1980 as the Institute of International Politics. It provided training for public security cadres, along with training for counterintelligence and political security cadres. When the former Central Investigation Department training institute became part of the Ministry of State Security, the Institute of International Politics, which remained part of the Ministry of Public Security, was renamed the Chinese People's University of Police Officers. Its counterintelligence department still supplies the Ministry of State Security each year with a small number of cadres, while graduates of other departments primarily work for the Ministry of Public Security.

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Page last modified: 12-07-2022 16:49:19 ZULU