The Japan News – by The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Chinese government is considering reorganizing the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force (PAP) and placing it under the direct control of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party as part of the country’s military realignment plan, according to senior Chinese military officials.
At present, the PAP is commanded by both the commission, which controls the military, and the Public Security Ministry, which is in charge of police affairs.
Because the PAP is under dual control, there has been a number of instances when the PAP received conflicting instructions from the military and local public security authorities after being ordered to suppress riots or undertake other missions. As a result, decisions to deploy the PAP were delayed in some cases. Some government officials have complained that the PAP’s actions are inefficient.
By placing public security units under a single command, the Chinese government hopes to respond to large-scale riots and other incidents more rapidly.
The reorganization is aimed at dealing with incidents including the frequent clashes between public security authorities and armed groups in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and large-scale riots elsewhere.
According to the military officers, PAP units will be in charge of maintaining public security and guard VIPs under the military commission’s direct control.
PAP units in charge of border patrol and firefighting will gradually be transferred to the Public Security Ministry’s local organizations and other authorities.
In 2013, a series of incidents were regarded as challenges to the Chinese administration. They included a car that exploded into a ball of fire in Tiananmen Square in late October, and a series of explosions that occurred near the Chinese Communist Party offices in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province.
As public discontent in China has been increasing, partly because of the widening gap between rich and poor, the number of riots and protests has exceeded 180,000 annually in recent years.
To maintain stability, public security units must be operated much more efficiently.
The name of the reorganized units translates as “armed guard force” or “military public security force.”
As the Chinese military is considering large-scale cuts in military personnel, the PAP is expected to be downsized. The PAP was established in the 1950s as a public security force and reorganized in the 1980s. It currently has more than 1.5 million personnel.
It is now in charge of riot suppression, antiterrorism activities, maintaining public security, providing guards for embassies, and protecting VIPs.
PAP personnel have turned out to protect the Japanese Embassy when anti-Japan rallies became ugly.