Central Security Bureau of the Communist Party of China
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The Central Security Bureau (Chinese: 中央警卫局, also called Unit 8341, and less commonly, Unit 57001) or The Central Guard Unit (sometimes as the Central Guard Regiment) is the chief Security Detail military bureau responsible for the security of senior Chinese government, party, and military leaders.
Activated in 1949, in Xibaipo, Hebei, the bureau is an independent PLA security regiment that does not report to the Beijing Military Region. Instead, it is subordinated to the People's Liberation Army General Staff Headquarters and commanded by a Brigadier General of the People’s Armed Police.
When first formed in 1949, this unit included a single brigade consisted of 3 regiments, with the largest one being the 4th Regiment of the 2nd Division of the Public Security Army (PSA, 公安军) of PLA. The 5th Regiment and the 6th Regiment were from PLA units in Shandong and Northeast China respectively. Due to its important missions, the brigade sized unit was given a division unit status, and hence its original name, the 2nd Division of the PSA (公安二师) of PLA. Two years later, the unit was renamed as the Central Guard Division (中央警卫师) in 1951, and the 4th, 5th & 6th Regiments were renamed as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiment respectively, with the 1st regiment being the largest, totaling more than a thousand soldiers.
On Jun 9, 1953, the unit went through another and its most significant reorganization. The 1st Regiment of the 2nd Division of the PSA of PLA became an independent unit in Zhongnanhai, sole responsible for the missions of VIP protection. The regiment was renamed as the Central Guard Regiment (中央警卫团), and was placed under the direct control of the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China (MPS of PRC). A 9th Bureau was formed within the MPS for the new missions, with Wang Dongxing as the bureau chief, Zhang Yaosi (张耀祠) as the deputy bureau chief, reporting directly to the then MPS Minister Luo Ruiqing. After Luo Ruiqing's fall from power in 1965, Wang Dongxing was put in charge as the party boss of the regiment, and eventually he would be removed from this important position after his own downfall from power after the end of Cultural Revolution.
In comparison to the drastic change in the top leadership, the command of the Central Guard Regiment itself had experienced much more stable leadership. When the regiment was first formed and named in Zhongnanhai in 1953, Zhang Yaosi, the deputy bureau chief of the 9th Bureau of MPS of PRC was also named as the regimental commander, Zhang Hong (张宏, not related to Zhang Yaosi) was named as the deputy regimental commander and regimental chief-of-staff, Yang Dezhong (杨德中) was named as the political commissar, Wang Huayu (王化宇) was named as the deputy political commissar and the director of the political directorate, and Wang Lianlong (王连龙, not related to Wang Huayu) was named as the deputy director of the political directorate. The regimental officers would remain in their respective posts for the next few decades.
During the same year of the most significant reorganization, the unit begun to use the designation assigned to it for the very first time. The very first designation given to the unit in 1953 was General Character 001 (总字001), with General refers to the General Staff Headquarter of PLA. This designation was used until the end of 1950's, when it was changed to "3437". In 1964, designation "3437" was replaced by "8341", a designation originally used for a strategic warehouse of PLA. When the warehouse was deactivated and closed down, the General Staff Headquarter of PLA reassigned the "8341" designation to the Central Guard Regiment, and it was used for almost 8 years, when it replaced by "57003" in 1971. 8341 became the most famous and well known designation for the unit and although it is no longer used since 1971, many still refer the regiment as Unit 8341 today. After 8341, the unit was briefly designated as "57003" during the purge of the Chinese military after Lin Biao's death in 1971, but soon the designation was changed to "57001", the last known designation to the public, which is rumored (yet to be confirmed) still in use today. The original reason for assigning designation was for security reasons and soldiers of the regiment were not allowed to put down the name and address when writing to their relatives and friends, but simply putting down Unit 8341 or other designations instead.
Since its activation in 1949, the unit has guarded all the past Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Hua Guofeng, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and their immediate families.The unit is credited with helping to end the Cultural Revolution when Wang Dongxing, then head of unit 8341, supported the coup d'etat led by Marshal Ye Jianying against the Gang of Four in September 1976. When the unit was first formed, it had higher requirement for enlistment: any candidates must be a junior-high school graduate, a requirement that does not appear to be much today, but it was considered tough back in the early 1950, when the illiteracy rate in China was over a half of the entire population. The unit was prohibited from participate in any public parade, with only a single exception: after the arrest of the Gang of Four, a huge celebration was held in October, 1976 in Beijing, and the unit was granted the permission to participate in this and only public event.
The strength of the unit is more than eight thousand, organized into 7 groups totaling 36 squadrons, each has its own mission: 1st Group is responsible for Zhongnanhai and surrounding areas, the 2nd Group was formerly responsible for Maojiawan (毛家湾), Lin Biao's former residence, but now is responsible for the base camp, containing several barracks of the unit in central and in northwest Beijing near the Western Hills. The 4th Group is responsible for Jade Spring Mountain (玉泉山) and surrounding areas, and the 5th Group is responsible for Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and surrounding areas. The 7th Group is responsible for VIP residence in Beidaihe District, and the rest two group are mobile reserves. The 1st Squadron of the 1st Group is tasked to protect the Chinese president, while the 3rd Squadron of the 1st Group is tasked to protect the Chinese premier. After Lin Biao's death, a 8th Group was formed, and armed with anti-aircraft artillery, tasked for air defense, but it was soon disbanded.
The area of responsibility was divided into outer and inner security zones, with inner zone has higher security measures. The inner zone is further divided into three categories and the higher the category, the more strict the security measures. Security details assigned to higher level zones can enter lower level zones, but not vice versa. In addition to sentries and patrols, plain cloth agents were also deployed for security missions. Because the unit was deployment in the high profile areas in the capital, those who are doing security details are issued better uniforms to provide a better image for China, but as soon as the security detail has been completed, soldiers must immediately return the better uniform upon their return and change to regular uniforms other ordinary PLA soldiers wear.
In addition to the 7 groups, there are another two permanent unit of the Central Security Bureau. The first is a small factory of less than a hundred workers, while the other is a farm located in Jade Spring Mountain. Both were established to provide supplies to the need of the Chinese leadership for security reasons, because ordinary factories were not allowed to manufacture the goods the Chinese leadership needed for its daily life, though this practice has been significantly reduced after Chinese economic reform begun. Though the factory is small, it has adopted most advanced technologies available to China and the factory maintained over four dozen highly digitized and computerized machine tools that is capable of producing a wide range of products, including parts for the Chinese nuclear weapon programs several decade back when the program first begun, though majority of the good produced was consumer goods. The product from this small factory was once exported, but this practice has been abandoned.
The farm at Jade Spring Mountain was originally a ranch for the military horses, because the unit originally had a cavalry squadron, and many top Chinese leaders regular visited the ranch for horse riding and target practice. After the cavalry squadron was disbanded, the ranch was converted to a farm, producing all the food the top Chinese leaders needed, and a portion of the unit's own need. The farm has been practicing organic farming since its establishment, and had never used any pesticide or chemical fertilizers. As a result, the yield was not as high as other farms in China where pesticide and chemical fertilizer are used. Majority of the agricultural output of the farm is rice.
Formation and Duties
While the Central Security Bureau has a full regiment size of combat ready troops, its commander is a Division size ranking officer – a Brigadier General. The bureau’s current commander is General Cao Qing (曹清), a veteran of the Sino-Vietnamese War and the bodyguard of Ye Jianying.
Along with the personal safety of senior Chinese government, party, and military leaders, the bureau is also responsible for protecting the office and living quarters of the leaders. Locations such as Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the Great Hall of the People, Jade Spring Mountain, Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Tiananmen, and Zhongnanhai are all guarded by the unit. The area of responsibility was once greatly expanded during Cultural Revolution, but has since shrunk back to the original size after the end of Cultural Revolution.