Thursday saw senior members of China's legislature passing a law, which provides details regarding the extent of authority of the People's Armed Police, a large paramilitary force. The force had to face criticism in some quarters for being slow to react to the riots in the western Xinjiang region last month, in which nearly 200 people died. Under the new law, these concerns have been dealt with, by indicating as to how and when the troops may be deployed.
It should be noted that the law is the 'first of its kind' to overtly rule the force. The members of this force, who are best known outside China for their role in suppressing political and social unrest, serve as border guards, security guards for government officials, firefighters and relief workers during disasters.
The gist of law goes thus: "The troops will have authority in handling rebellion, riots, large-scale serious criminal violence, terror attacks and other social safety incidents."
Other than this, the authority of county-level local officials, to summon the force to handle disorders, is also removed by the legislation. The basic complaint of the Chinese citizens is that, sometimes, the armed police are recruited by low-level government officials to perform their duties violently, using excessive force!