- A restructuring of the People’s Armed Police that began two years ago may be reaching its end after a number of senior commanders were promoted last week
- The force is now under the direct control of the Central Military Commission – which is chaired by President Xi Jinping – rather than local governments
A recent shake-up of the top ranks of the armed police in China suggests that a restructuring designed to tighten the Communist Party's control over the paramilitary force is reaching its conclusion.
Two years ago the force was placed under the direct control of the party's Central Military Committee as part of a wider reform of the military initiated by President Xi Jinping.
The reform also moved the force beyond the control of local governments, which will no longer be able to mobilise the force to crack down on public disorder.
The size of the force was also reduced from 800,000 to 400,000, as part of the restructuring which also removed many of its civilian functions and branches such as firefighting, border inspection, and even gold prospecting. As part of the same process it also took on responsibility for the coastguard.
Armed police stage another riot drill near Hong Kong
Last week in the third group promotion in just under a year, the People's Armed Police Force saw one new lieutenant general and 36 major generals appointed.
The new lieutenant general is the force's director of the political work department Gao Wei, a former army major general who moved over to the police last October.
The major generals are mostly the force's provincial chiefs, the top commanders of the China coastguard and the leaders of armed police academies.
"This suggests the PAP leadership shift and internal reorganisation over the past two years has reached a milestone," said Chen Daoyin, a Shanghai-based political analyst.
The force, formally established in 1983, now will be focused on homeland security, preventing social instability, emergency response, counterterrorism and maritime law enforcement.
Chen said that the reform was designed to strengthen the control of the party and guarantee the absolute authority of the central military commission, which Xi chairs.
"The absolute leadership must be carried out through people's work, that's why batches of new cadres are being appointed and promoted," he said.
Armed police truck convoy rolls into Shenzhen
Since 2015, a number of former armed police generals have been sacked or arrested on corruption charges.
Among them are the former commander Wang Jianping, political commissar Xu Yaoyuan and several of their deputies. In 2016 alone, 19 generals in provincial divisions and academies were reportedly removed from their posts.
In July, the PAP promoted three lieutenant generals to fill the post of vice-commander, secretary of its discipline inspection commission and chief of staff
At the end of last year, 22 new major generals were promoted to act as provincial and departmental heads.
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