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Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó Gōng'ānbù

Flag of the People's Police of China
Agency overview
Formed1954; 68 years ago (1954)
Preceding agency
TypeConstituent Department of the State Council (cabinet-level)
Jurisdiction China
Employees1.9 million
Ministers responsible
  • Zhao Kezhi, Minister
  • Wang Xiaohong
    Du Hangwei
    Xu Ganlu
    Liu Zhao, Vice-Ministers
  • Sun Xinyang, Leader of the Discipline Inspection & Supervision Team Dispatched from the CCDI & the NSC
  • Feng Yan, Politics Supervisor
  • Chen Siyuan, the Assistant to the Minister
Parent agencyState Council
Child agencies

The Ministry of Public Security (Chinese: 公安部; pinyin: Gōng'ānbù)[note 1] is the government ministry of the People's Republic of China responsible for public security. It oversees more than 1.9 million of the country's law enforcement officers and as such the vast majority of the People's Police (Chinese: 人民警察; pinyin: Rénmín Jǐngchá). While the Ministry of Public Security is generally concerned with regular policing, the Ministry of State Security is charged with domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering as well as combating espionage and subversion.

The ministry was established in 1949 (after the Chinese Communist Party's victory in the Chinese Civil War) and was known as "Ministry of Public Security of the Central People's Government" until 1954. Grand General Luo Ruiqing of the People's Liberation Army was its first minister. As the ministry's organization was based on Soviet and Eastern Bloc models, it was responsible for all aspects of national security; ranging from regular police work to intelligence, counter-intelligence and the suppression of anti-communist political and societal sentiments.[1] Military intelligence affairs remained with the General Staff Department, while the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party was active in fomenting revolutionary tendencies worldwide by funneling weapons, money and resources to various pro-Chinese movements.[2] With the creation of the MSS in 1983, the MPS lost the majority of its non-regular law enforcement responsibilities.

The MPS is generally comparable with a nationwide police force, such as the Japanese National Police Agency, Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs or the German Federal Police. The ministry employs a system of Public Security Bureaus throughout all provinces, cities, municipalities and towns of China; equivalent to local police forces or stations in most other countries. The special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau maintain their own, autonomous bureaus, agencies and police forces. The ministry is headed by the Minister of Public Security, who is nominated by the Premier of the People's Republic of China and confirmed by the National People's Congress (NPC). Zhao Kezhi has been the current minister since November 2017.


The Ministry of Public Security was among the first government organs of the PRC. It superseded the Ministry of Public Security of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s Central Military Commission (CMC), a transitional body created in July 1949 by removing the security service remit from the CCP Central Department of Social Affairs (CDSA). The ministry began operations on 1 November 1949, at the end of a two-week-long National Conference of Senior Public Security Cadres. Most of its initial staff of less than 500 cadres came from the (former) regional CCP North China Department of Social Affairs (CDSA). At the national level, its creation signaled the formal abolition of the CDSA. The ministry moved to its present location, in the heart of the one-time foreign legation quarters in Beijing, in the spring of 1950.[3] In August 2020, the Chinese police were handed their first professional flag by CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping in a flag presentation ceremony.[4]

List of Ministers

No. Name From To Premier
1 Luo Ruiqing October 1949 September 1959 Zhou Enlai
2 Xie Fuzhi September 1959 March 1972 Zhou Enlai
3 Li Zhen March 1972 1973 Zhou Enlai
4 Hua Guofeng 1973 March 1977 Zhou Enlai
Hua Guofeng
5 Zhao Cangbi March 1977 April 1983 Hua Guofeng
Zhao Ziyang
6 Liu Fuzhi May 1983 August 1985 Zhao Ziyang
7 Ruan Chongwu September 1985 March 1987 Zhao Ziyang
8 Wang Fang April 1987 November 1990 Zhao Ziyang
Li Peng
9 Tao Siju December 1990 March 1998 Li Peng
10 Jia Chunwang March 1998 December 2002 Li Peng
Zhu Rongji
11 Zhou Yongkang December 2002 October 2007 Zhu Rongji
Wen Jiabao
12 Meng Jianzhu October 2007 December 2012 Wen Jiabao
13 Guo Shengkun December 2012 November 2017 Wen Jiabao
Li Keqiang
14 Zhao Kezhi November 2017 Incumbent Li Keqiang


Headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing
Headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing

The MPS is organized into functional departments (see below). Subordinate to the MPS are the provincial- and municipal-level PSB's (Public Security Bureau) and sub-bureaus at the county and urban district levels. At the grassroots level, finally, there are police stations (Chinese: 派出所; pinyin: Pàichūsuǒ) which serve as the direct point of contact between police and ordinary citizens. While public security considerations have weighed heavily at all levels of administration since the founding of the PRC, the police are perceived by some outside observers to wield progressively greater influence at lower levels of government. Provincial public security bureaus are subject to dual supervision by both local provincial governments and the central government.[5] The ministry is also closely associated with the development of surveillance technologies used by police in China through the Third Research Institute (Chinese: 第三研究所; pinyin: Dì-sān Yánjiūsuǒ; lit. 'No. 3 Research Institute') focused on the development of AI based “smart surveillance,” and censorship technologies.[6]

The organization of local public security stations may be inferred from the tasks with which the police are charged. Generally, each police station has sections assigned to cover census and household registration (Hukou) matters, pretrial investigations, welfare, traffic control, cybersecurity and other activities. Each also has a detention center and respective SWAT team.[citation needed]

Departmental structure

At the time of its creation, the Ministry of Public Security had a simple departmental structure comprising one general office and six functional directorates, numbered sequentially and responsible for political security, economic security, public order and administration, border security, armed security, and personnel. Today the ministry is organized into the following departments:

Railway, navigation, civil aviation, forestry and anti-smuggling public security departments are under the dual leadership of their superior administration and the MPS.[7]

Responsibilities and operations

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In the 1980s the public security station—the police element in closest contact with the people—was supervised by the public security subbureau as well as by local governments and procuratorates. The procuratorate could assume direct responsibility for any case that it chose, and it supervised investigations in those cases in which the public security station was allowed to conduct investigations. A great deal of coordination occurred among the public security organs, the procuratorates, and the courts, so that a trial was unlikely to produce a surprise outcome.

The public security station generally had considerably broader responsibilities than a police station in the West, involving itself in every aspect of the district people's lives. In a rural area a station typically has a chief, a deputy chief, a small administrative staff, and a small police force. In an urban area it usually has a greater number of administrative staff members and seven to eighteen patrolmen. Its criminal law activities included investigation, apprehension, interrogation, and temporary detention. The station's household section maintained a registry of all persons living in the area. Births, deaths, marriages, and divorces were recorded and confirmed through random household checks. The station regulated all hotels and required visitors who remained beyond a certain number of days to register. All theaters, cinemas, radio equipment, and printing presses also were registered with the local public security station, permitting it to regulate gatherings and censor information effectively. It also regulated the possession, transportation, and use of all explosives, guns, ammunition, and poisons.

Another important police function was controlling change of residence under the Hukou system. Since large numbers of people move to larger cities every year search of better living standards, work, or education, the Hukou system acts as a form of population control and restricts freedom of movement so as to prevent the overburdening on social security and city services. In April 1984 the State Council issued the Tentative Regulations Governing People's Republic of China Resident Identity, this became the identification card of the People's Republic of China. The regulations, implemented over a period of years, required all residents over sixteen years of age, except active-duty members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police (PAP) and inmates serving prison sentences, to be issued resident identity cards by the MPS. The identification card indicates the name, sex, nationality, ethnicity, date of birth, and address of the bearer. Cards for persons sixteen to twenty-five years of age were valid for ten years; those for persons between twenty-five and forty-five were valid for twenty years; and persons over forty-five were issued permanent cards. As of early 1987, only 70 million people had been issued identity cards, well below the national goal. Also, even those with resident identity cards preferred to use other forms of identification.

Criminal procedure powers

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Public security officials also made extensive use of their authority to impose administrative sanctions through two sets of documents. These were the 1957 Regulations on re-education through labor, which were reissued in 1979 with amendments (abolished 2013), and the 1957 Regulations Governing Offenses Against Public Order, which were rescinded and replaced in 1986 by regulations of the same name. Offenders under the Regulations on Reeducation Through Labor might include "vagabonds, people who have no proper occupation, and people who repeatedly breach public order." The police could apprehend such individuals and sentence them to reeducation through labor with the approval of local labor-training administration committees. The 1957 regulations placed no limit on the length of sentences, but beginning in the early 1960s sentences of three or four years were the norm. The 1979 amended Regulations, however, limited the length of reeducation through labor to three years with the possibility of extensions in extraordinary cases. The Regulations Governing Offenses Against Public Order empowered the police to admonish, fine, or detain people for up to fifteen days. Goods illegally in the possession of an offender were to be confiscated, and payment was imposed for damages or hospital fees in the event that injury had been caused.

The criminal laws in force after January 1, 1980, restricted police powers regarding arrests, investigations, and searches. A public security official or a citizen could apprehend a suspect under emergency conditions, but a court or procuratorate was required to approve the arrest. The accused had to be questioned within twenty-four hours and his or her family or work unit notified of the detention "except in circumstances where notification would hinder the investigation or there was no way to notify them." Any premeditated arrest required a warrant from a court or procuratorate. The time that an accused could be held pending investigation was limited to three to seven days, and incarceration without due process was made illegal.

Two officials were needed to conduct a criminal investigation. They were required to show identification and, apparently, to inform the accused of the crime allegedly committed before he or she was questioned. The suspect could refuse to answer only those questions irrelevant to the case. Torture was rendered illegal.

The 1980 laws also provided that in conjunction with an arrest the police could conduct an emergency search; otherwise, a warrant was required. They had the right to search the person, property, and residence of an accused and the person of any injured party. They could intercept mail belonging to the accused and order an autopsy whenever cause of death was unclear.

In July 1980 the government approved new regulations governing police use of weapons and force. Police personnel could use their batons only in self-defense or when necessary to subdue or prevent the escape of violent criminals or rioters. Lethal weapons, such as pistols, could be used if necessary to stop violent riots, to lessen the overall loss of life, or to subdue surrounded but still resisting criminals. The regulations even governed use of sirens, police lights, and whistles.

Public relations


The relationship between the police officers assigned to neighborhood patrols and the people was close. Police officers lived in a neighborhood on a long-term assignment and were expected to know all the residents on a personal basis. Their task was not only to prevent and punish crime but to promote desirable behavior by counseling and acting as role models. These socially responsible aspects of the police officer's duties were constant responsibilities, and the bond between the public security units and the people was strengthened annually by means of "cherish-the-people" months, during which the police officer made a special effort to help the local people, especially the aged and infirm.


See also: Internal media of China

The Public Security Construction (《公安建设》) was a classified serial publication for internal purposes.[8] During the disastrous Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1961, the Public Security Work Bulletin (《公安工作简报》) was a top-secret serial which often described China's serious food shortages, directly contradicting Mao Zedong's promises of "bountiful economic fruit".[9][10] Another periodical People’s Public Security (《人民公安》)[note 2] was also produced and classified as "for official use only".[11][12]


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Police are officially drawn from every segment of the population without restriction as to sex or ethnic origin. Selection is based on political loyalty, intelligence, and health, as it is for the PLA. There is at least one police school in every provincial-level unit, and others are operated by municipalities. Usually those police designated for leadership positions attend the police schools, and patrolmen are trained at the unit and on the job. Legal training is emphasized as a method of improving the quality of the police forces. In 1985 three institutions of higher learning for police personnel were established—the Chinese People's Public Security University, the University of Police Officers, and the Institute of Criminal Police—offering more than twenty specialized courses. Students are recruited from the pool of senior middle-school graduates under twenty-two years of age, with a waiver to twenty-five years of age for those who have a minimum of two years' experience in public security or law enforcement work.


Local municipal police under the MPS formally were usually unarmed with firearms routinely in contrast to the soldiers of the People's Armed Police (PAP), however they are armed with expandable batons and incapacitant sprays. Sometimes, multiple use tactical knives are issued to the policemen.

A decision has been taken to train in the use of sidearms to all frontline MPS personnel since 2006. The 9×19mm double-action revolver manufactured by the China North Industries Corporation[13] are issued to frontline personnel, and officers armed them routinely

For more firepower, detectives and special units are routinely armed with NP 22 and QSZ-92 semi-automatic pistols. Sub-machine guns, rifles and light machine guns are deployed when more firepower is required.

Product list and details
 Make/Model   Type   Origin   Usage since   Main users 
Norinco Type 54  People's Republic of China 1954–1988 Frontline officers (obsolete, mostly phased out by QSZ-92)
Norinco Type 64  People's Republic of China 1980–2008 Detectives & frontline officers(obsolete, mostly phased out by QSW-06)
Norinco 9mm Revolver  People's Republic of China 2006–Present Patrol police
Norinco Type 77  People's Republic of China 1981–Present Detectives
Norinco QSZ-92  People's Republic of China 1996–Present Frontline officers
Norinco QSW-06  People's Republic of China 2006–Present Special forces
Norinco NP 22  People's Republic of China 2015–Present Special forces & detectives
Taurus PT109  Brazil 2014–Present Limited use in guard details
Submachine guns
Product list and details
 Make/Model   Type   Origin   Usage since   Main users 
Norinco Type 79[14]  People's Republic of China 1979–Present Special units
Norinco NR-08  People's Republic of China 2008–Present Special units
Norinco JS 9 mm  People's Republic of China 2006–Present Special units
Product list and details
 Make/Model   Type   Origin   Usage since   Main users 
Norinco QBZ-95  People's Republic of China 1997–Present Special units
Norinco QBZ-03  People's Republic of China 2002–Present Special units
Norinco Type 81  People's Republic of China 1983–Present Reserve units
Norinco Norinco CQ  People's Republic of China 1980–Present Some police units, notably Sichuan Police Department and Chongqing SWAT
Product list and details
 Make/Model   Type   Origin   Usage since   Main users 
Norinco Norinco HP9-1  People's Republic of China 2001–Present Patrol Units

See also


  1. ^ Mandarin pronunciation: [kʊ́ŋ.án.pû]; abbr. from Chinese: 公共安全部; pinyin: Gōnggòng Ānquán Bù; lit. 'Public Security Ministry' Mandarin pronunciation: [kʊ́ŋ.kʊ̂ŋ án.tɕʰɥɛ̌n pû]
  2. ^ Its official English-language title is People's Police.



  1. ^ From the Social Affairs Department to Ministry of Public Security, in Xuezhi Guo: China's Security State: Philosophy, Evolution, and Politics, 2012, Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency (December 1971). "Intelligence Report: The International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 31, 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  3. ^ Wang Zhongfang, "Gonganbu shi zemyang chenglide," in Zhu Chunlin (ed.) Lishi shunjian (Beijing: Qunzhong chubanshe, 1999), Vol. 1, pp. 3–16.
  4. ^ "习近平向中国人民警察队伍授旗并致训词强调 对党忠诚服务人民执法公正纪律严明 坚决完成党和人民赋予的使命任务 王沪宁韩正出席". 新华网 (in Chinese (China)). Archived from the original on August 27, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  5. ^ Cheng, Ming (March 1, 1997). "Spy Headquarters Behind the Shrubs -- Supplement to 'Secrets About CPC Spies'". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved July 18, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Kania, Elsa (November 16, 2017). "Seeking a Panacea: The Party-State's Plans for Artificial Intelligence (Part 2)". Centre for Advanced China Research (CACR). Retrieved July 18, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Schoenhals, Michael (February 18, 2013). Spying for the People: Mao's Secret Agents, 1949–1967. Cambridge University Press. pp. 105–6. ISBN 9781139619714.
  9. ^ Cheek, Timothy (August 23, 2010). A Critical Introduction to Mao. Cambridge University Press. p. 116. ISBN 9781139789042.
  10. ^ Schoenhals, Michael (February 18, 2013). Spying for the People: Mao's Secret Agents, 1949–1967. Cambridge University Press. pp. 31, 42, 106. ISBN 9781139619714.
  11. ^ Schoenhals, Michael (February 18, 2013). Spying for the People: Mao's Secret Agents, 1949–1967. Cambridge University Press. p. 129. ISBN 9781139619714.
  12. ^ Lim, J.; Petrone, K. (December 14, 2010). Gender Politics and Mass Dictatorship: Global Perspectives. Springer. p. 238. ISBN 9780230283275.
  13. ^ "9mm Chinese Police revolver". Archived from the original on April 6, 2008. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 16, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)