People's Armed Police
|Chinese People's Armed Police Force (CAPF)
Badge of the People's Armed Police
|Active||June 19, 1982|
|Country||People's Republic of China|
|Branch||State Council and Central Military Commission|
|Role||Preservation of Public Order and Security, Civil Defence, Reserves, Engineering Projects|
|Size||1.1 to 1.5 million|
|Part of||People's Armed Police Headquarters|
|Garrison/HQ||Beijing, Haidian District, China|
|Nickname||Armed Policemen (武警)|
First Political Commissar: Guo Shengkun
(Since December 2014)
The People's Armed Police (Chinese: 人民武装警察, Abbreviation: PAP), officially Chinese People's Armed Police Force (officially abbreviated CAPF; simplified Chinese: 中国人民武装警察部队; traditional Chinese: 中國人民武裝警察部隊; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Wǔzhuāng Jǐngchá Bùduì), is a Chinese law enforcement force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as providing support to the PLA during wartime.
In contrast to public security police, PAP servicemen, also called as "Armed Policemen (武警战士)", wear olive green instead of the blue uniforms of the Public Security Department People's Police (公安机关人民警察, abbreviated 公安民警) and other branches of People's Police (人民警察, abbreviated 民警). From January 1, 2005 to July 31, 2007 the position had been renamed 'internal guard' (内卫) with arm insignia reflecting this change; new uniforms issued on August 1, 2007 carried to term for "China Armed Police Force" (中国武警).
The PAP is estimated to have a total strength of as high as 1.5 million, with over half its strength employed in its internal security units (Simplified Chinese: 内卫部队; pinyin: nèiwèi bùduì). The official estimate in 2006 was 660,000.
The history of the People's Armed Police is as long as that of the People's Republic, and its origin can be traced back to the People's Liberation Army, which was responsible for both defending the nation from foreign invasions and internal security. Although the force was officially established in 1982, its constituent units stretch back to 1949. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, it was soon apparent that the different troops were required for the vastly different missions, and the domestic security functions had to be removed from the People's Liberation Army. As a result, the portion of People's Liberation Army responsible for internal security and other domestic police missions branched out to form the Public Security Army, under the administration of the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China. Although under the Ministry of Public Security, the Public Security Army troops were not exactly public security police officers because in addition to regular police work, they were also tasked with secondary military tasks which was not part of the responsibility of regular police officers of the public security ministry.
After numerous name changes and reorganization, the PAP was created on June 19, 1982 by an amalgamation of the PLA's border control, internal security units (domestic 'internal guard' or and fire department), as well as from Ministry of Public Security units.
The PAP's primary mission is internal security. The first law on the People's Armed Police, the Law on the People's Armed Police Force (PAPF), was passed in August 2009, giving it statutory authority to respond to riots, terrorist attacks or other emergencies. Such units guard government buildings at all levels (including party and state organisations, foreign embassies and consulates), provide personal protection to senior government officials, provide security functions to public corporations and major public events. Some units perform guard duty in civilian prisons and provide executioners for the state. The PAP also maintains tactical counter-terrorism (CT) units in the Immediate Action Unit (IAU), Snow Wolf Commando Unit (SWCU) and various Special Police Units (SPU).
PAP border security forces (Simplified Chinese: 边防部队; pinyin: biānfáng bùdùi) guard China's land and sea borders, as well as its ports and airports. Other units guard China's forests (Simplified Chinese: 森林部队; pinyin: sēnlín bùduì), gold mines (Simplified Chinese: 黄金部队; pinyin: huángjīn bùduì) and hydropower facilities (Simplified Chinese: 水电部队; pinyin: shuǐdiàn bùduì), as well as provide traffic-policing (Simplified Chinese: 交通部队; pinyin: jiāotōng bùduì), Fire Fighting (消防部队) and road construction services. Among them, the Border Security and Fire Fighting are under the control by both Central Military Commission and Ministry of Public Security (which also controls the People's Police) while the other forces are under the control of CMC only. The border security force in particular, is also a law enforcement agency.
The secondary mission of the PAP is external defence, and in times of war PAP internal security units can act as light infantry supporting the PLA in local defence missions.
The PAP is estimated to have a total strength of 1.5 million, with over half its strength (800,000) employed in its internal security units (Simplified Chinese: 内卫部队; pinyin: neiwei budui). However, government figures put the number at 660,000. Such units are organised in division-sized elements (Simplified Chinese: 总队; pinyin: zongdui, or 'contingents') and are located in each province, autonomous region and centrally-controlled city. Some provinces have more than one internal security zongdui due to the transferral of 14 PLA Divisions (numbering 500,000 personnel) to the PAP during the late 1990s. Additionally, the PAP maintains a national headquarters in Beijing.
Although their uniforms (olive green) and insignia are different from those of the PLA, PAP guards wear military-style uniforms and insignia that often leads to them being mistaken for soldiers. Furthermore, due to its history with the PLA, the PAP has a similar rank structure to the PLA and also obeys its general regulations. PAP guards are also recruited at the same time and through the same procedures as PLA soldiers. However, the PAP has its own education and training system separate from the PLA. Like PLA, PAP also celebrates Army Day on August 1st of every year, and enjoys the same services as the PLA.
- Shambaugh, David L. (2004). Modernizing China's military: progress, problems, and prospects. University of California Press. p. 170.
- Top legislature passes armed police law. China Daily. August 27, 2009.
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- Blasko (2006), p. 18.
- 栾, 尚林 (2005) 武警统一佩戴新式臂章胸标含义及使用范围 (The People's Armed Police new arm patches and badges and their uses). Xinhua.