Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó Gōng'ānbù
Ministry of Public Security Headquarters
|Type||Constituent Department of the State Council (cabinet-level),|
National level police and counterintelligence agency
|Jurisdiction||Government of China|
|Parent agency||State Council|
The Ministry of Public Security (MPS, Chinese: 公安部; pinyin: Gōng'ānbù)[note 1] is a government ministry of the People's Republic of China responsible for public and political 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. The MPS is a nationwide police force; however, counterintelligence and so-called "political security" remain core functions.
The ministry was established in 1949 (after the Chinese Communist Party's victory in the Chinese Civil War) as the successor to the Central Social Affairs Department 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 (PLA) 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, counterintelligence and the suppression of anti-communist political and societal sentiments. Military intelligence affairs remained with the General Staff Department, while the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was active in fomenting revolutionary tendencies worldwide by funneling weapons, money and resources to various pro-CCP movements.
The ministry employs a system of Public Security Bureaus throughout the provinces, cities, municipalities and townships of China. The special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau maintain nominally separate 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). Wang Xiaohong has been the minister in charge since June 2022.
The Ministry of Public Security was among the first government organs of the PRC. It superseded the Ministry of Public Security of the CCP's Central Military Commission (CMC), a transitional body created in July 1949 by removing the security service remit from the CCP's Central Social Affairs Department (SAD). The MPS 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. At the national level, its creation signaled the formal abolition of the SAD. The ministry moved to its present location, in the heart of the one-time foreign legation quarters in Beijing, in the spring of 1950.
The MPS's Guangzhou office historically handled foreign spies such as Larry Wu-tai Chin.
With the creation of the Ministry of State Security (MSS) in July 1983, MPS lost much of its counterintelligence personnel and remit. Scholars Jichang Lulu and Filip Jirouš have argued that the establishment of the MSS "may have contributed to the illusion that the MPS is simply a law-enforcement police body, separate from intelligence agencies." According to analyst Alex Joske, "the MPS lost much of its foreign intelligence remit after the MSS's creation, but has established new units for cross-border clandestine operations since then." Since then, the MPS remains a commonly used cover by MSS officers.
Following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, the MPS worked to counter Operation Yellowbird.
The MPS and its officers have been active abroad in Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Sky Net. The MPS under Sun Lijun had reporters from The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong under "full operational surveillance" for their reporting of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
In 2017, Europol signed a "strategic cooperation agreement" with the MPS. Starting in 2019, the MPS began replacing "domestic security" with "political security" in the names of its units. In 2020, the United States Department of Commerce added the MPS Institute of Forensic Science to the Entity List over human rights issues related to the Uyghur genocide.
In 2022, it was reported that the MPS had established numerous overseas police service stations, which sparked investigations by law enforcement in multiple countries. In 2023, the United States Department of Justice stated that the MPS engages in covert "intelligence and national security operations far beyond China’s borders," including "illicit, transnational repression schemes."
|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|
|5||Zhao Cangbi||March 1977||April 1983||Hua Guofeng|
|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|
|9||Tao Siju||December 1990||March 1998||Li Peng|
|10||Jia Chunwang||March 1998||December 2002||Li Peng|
|11||Zhou Yongkang||December 2002||October 2007||Zhu Rongji|
|12||Meng Jianzhu||October 2007||December 2012||Wen Jiabao|
|13||Guo Shengkun||December 2012||November 2017||Wen Jiabao|
|14||Zhao Kezhi||November 2017||June 2022||Li Keqiang|
|15||Wang Xiaohong||June 2022||incumbent||Li Keqiang|
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. 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.
The journal Public Security Construction（Chinese: 公安建设; pinyin: Gōng'ān jiànshè）was a classified serial publication for internal purposes. During the disastrous Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1961, the circular Public Security Work Bulletin (Chinese: 公安工作简报; pinyin: Gōng'ān gōngzuò jiǎnbào) was a top-secret serial which often described China's serious food shortages, social unrest and famine directly contradicting Mao Zedong's claims of "bountiful economic fruit". Another periodical the People's Public Security (Chinese: 人民公安; pinyin: Rénmín gōng'ān)[note 2] was also produced and classified as "for official use only", functioning for the purposes of internal intelligence sharing and coordination among various branches of the public security apparatus.
The MPS' First Bureau operates a united front organization called the China Association for Friendship.
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Ministry of Public Security (China)