Law on the People’s Armed Police to be passed on Thursday

Yesterday Liu Xirong, the deputy chairman of the NPC legislative committee, suggested that the draft law on the People’s Armed Police be submitted for a vote on Thursday, after the second reading.

Normally a bill of law undergoes three rounds of reading before it can be put to vote. The Law on legislation does not formulate this rule in absolute terms, thus some exceptions – as this one – are allowed:

Article 27 A bill which has been put on the agenda of the Standing Committee session shall in general be deliberated three times in the current session of the Standing Committee before being voted on.

第二十七条 列入常务委员会会议议程的法律案,一般应当经三次常务委员会会议审议后再交付表决

The Urumqi riots and the upcoming sixtieth anniversary of the PRC provide sufficient ground to speed up the legislative process, give an adequate legal basis to the People’s Armed Police and its powers.

This far the existence and powers of the PAP are based on a generic legal provision in the People’s Police Law:

Article 51. The People’s Armed Police carries out the security protection tasks given to it by the state

第五十一条 中国人民武装警察部队执行国家赋予的安全保卫任务。

on a 1979 report delivered by Ulanhu, who served as party secretary and governor of Inner Mongolia, and on a 1982 circular issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

The 660.000-strong force will soon receive the powers to:

– handle terrorist attacks, public security incidents, riots, mass unrest, and large scale crimes.
carry out armed patrols
– question and search criminal suspects
– restrain and hand over to the police or to state security organs those found in the course of committing a crime, wanted fugitives and those who carry forbidden goods.

Opinions over who enjoys the power to mobilise and deploy the PAP seem to be divided. The first draft gave county level governments and public security organs the power to use the PAP in case of need (art. 7). To avoid that the People’s Armed Police be turned into a sort of private army commanded by local governments, the legislative committee and the PAP general headquarters have tried to centralize control over it.

According to the revised draft, the PAP should be deployed in accordance with the law, following a strict approval procedure. Procedural norms on its deployment should be made jointly by the State Council and the Central Military Commission. It is not yet clear how the centralization of power will take place in practice.

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