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Chinese People's Armed Police Force (CAPF)
Chinese soldier on Tienanmen Square.jpg
A PAP Guard in the second lowest rank, Private First Class in front of Tiananmen
Active June 19, 1982
Country  People's Republic of China
Branch State Council and Central Military Commission
Type Quasi-Military Force
Role Preservation of Public Order and Security, Civil Defense, Reserves, Engineering Projects
Size 1.1 to 1.5 million
Part of Armed Police Headquarters
Garrison/HQ Beijing, Haiyang area, 3rd Western Flag
Nickname(s) PAP
Colours Red, Green
Senior General Wu Shuangzhan(吳雙戰上將)
Political Commissar

Primary Political CommissarMeng Jianzhu孟建柱(Concurrent Position)

Political Commissar:Senior General Yu Linxiang(喻林祥上将)
(Since November 2007)

The People's Armed Police Force (Abbreviation: PAP or 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 paramilitary or gendarmerie force primarily responsible for civilian policing and fire rescue duties in the People's Republic of China, as well as provide support to 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 Police (People's Police). 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 1.5 million, with over half its strength (800,000) employed in its internal security units (Simplified Chinese: 内卫部队; pinyin: nèiwèi bùduì).


The history of the People's Armed Police is as long as 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.[1] 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 內卫), 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.[2][3] 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.[4] Among them, the Border Security and Fire Fighting are under the control by both Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Public Security (which also controls the People's Police) while the other forces are under the control of Ministry of Defense only.

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.[5]


The PAP has a dual command structure including the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the State Council through the Ministry of Public Security. By law however, the PAP is not part of the PLA.[6]

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.[3] 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.[7] Furthermore, due to its history with the PLA and paramilitary organisation, 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.

Special Units

See also


  1. Shambaugh, David L. (2004). Modernizing China's military: progress, problems, and prospects. University of California Press. p. 170.
  2. Top legislature passes armed police law. China Daily. August 27, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wines, Michael (August 27, 2009). China Approves Law Governing Armed Police Force . The New York Times.
  4. Full Text: China's National Defense in 2006. Xinhua. December 29, 2006.
  5. Blasko, Dennis J. (2006). The Chinese Army today: tradition and transformation for the 21st century. Routledge. p. 87.
  6. Blasko (2006), p. 18.
  7. 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.

External links

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