China’s Xi Tightens His Control Over Paramilitary Police
Chinese President Xi Jinping has continued to consolidate his power by moving control of the People’s Armed Police (pap) to the Central Military Commission, of which he is chairman. Previously, the paramilitary police force of about 1 million officers was controlled by the State Council, which Xi does not directly lead. The move began to go into effect on January 1.
Paramilitary police conduct disaster and kidnapping rescues, special human trafficking and drug trafficking operations, protest control and other duties.
The Nikkei Asian Review said the move was seen as a “hedge against a coup”:
It has been suggested that Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, plotted to carry out a coup against the Xi administration by teaming up with Bo Xilai, a former Communist Party secretary of Chongqing who once was the president’s major rival. Zhou had a strong influence over the paramilitary force.
The South China Morning Post added that the previous structure “gave lower-level authorities the power to deploy the pap to tackle natural disasters, protests and hostage crises.”
The Communist Party’s People’s Daily reported that the paramilitary police would remain separate from the military.
Assuming control of the People’s Armed Police looks like a continuation of Xi’s reforms, which were given wide news coverage at the recent 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October. There, Xi proclaimed a “new era” of Chinese power, which is proving to be a new era of Xi Jinping power in China. At the time, the Trumpet described some of the ways Xi had been able to consolidate “personal power to levels not seen in China in decades”:
Altogether, he has assumed no fewer than seven top government positions and has reversed many of the nation’s core gaige kaifang—“reform and opening up”—policies. Xi has also made strides toward recentralizing China’s economy by rebuilding government-controlled monopolies, fortifying national enterprises, and limiting opportunities for competitors—both in China and abroad. Meanwhile, Xi has muzzled dissenting voices within Chinese society, making the country considerably less free than it was during the time of his predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Regarding China’s military might, Shanghai-based military affairs commentator Ni Lexiong says Xi now “not only controls the military but also does it in an absolute manner.”
Now Xi is adding control over the paramilitary police to the power of his regime.
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