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China: The People's Armed Police Force
Country Study > Chapter 13 > Criminal Justice and Public Security > Law Enforcement > Public Security Forces > The People's Armed Police Force


The People's Armed Police Force (PAPF), after a trial period in selected jurisdictions, was officially established at the national level in 1983. In line with the general policy of reducing the size of the armed forces and transferring responsibilities to the civilian sector, the newly established force was formed from internal security units reassigned from the PLA to the Ministry of Public Security and from border defense (customs) and fire-fighting units. In 1985 the PAPF consisted of approximately 600,000 volunteers and conscripts. With a general headquarters at the national level and subordinate division-level provincial or specialized units, regimental-level detachments, and battalion-level brigades, it retained its military organization.

PAPF units assigned to internal security were responsible for guarding party and state organizations and foreign embassies and consulates, as well as for responding to emergencies and maintaining law and order. Border defense units performed standard customs duties, such as inspecting vehicles and ships entering and leaving the country, and maintained surveillance against smugglers and drug traffickers. PAPF firefighting units were responsible for fire-prevention education as well as for fighting fires. PAPF units at every level worked in close cooperation with the armed forces and other public security organizations.

Data as of July 1987

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

China Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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